Titian: Women, Myth and Power Exhibit
“Titian: Women, Myth and Power,” at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, represents a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to view the six “poesie” paintings together in one place, including the Gardner’s own “The Rape of Europa,”.
Tiziano Vecellio, called Titian, transformed Western art. Employed by the Holy Roman Emperor, several princes, two popes, and the city of Venice, he forged a peerless international reputation as Europe’s leading portraitist and master of mythological subjects.
Titian was as much a legend in the Gilded Age as he was in his own time. In 1896, Isabella Stewart Gardner bought the Rape of Europa, which became the most famous Renaissance artwork in America.
This exhibition brings together Europa with her five companions, reuniting a legendary series of six mythological paintings called the “poesie,” painted poetries, commissioned by King Philip II of Spain.
Titian created them for Philip between 1551 and 1562, responding to ancient Roman myths, above all through the poetry of Ovid, in majestic color and with unprecedented originality.
View the Titian Gallery Guide
Titian’s relationship with Philip was the most productive of his career, and its artistic legacy endures. Inspired by his work, painters of subsequent centuries—including Peter Paul Rubens and Diego Velázquez—transformed Titian into an icon and shaped the future of painting in his wake.
We invite you to consider Titian’s poesie from multiple perspectives, then and now. Portraits of Philip and his older wife, Queen Mary Tudor, help us to imagine their points of view. Scholars and artists share personal insights into individual paintings with audio stops.
Newly commissioned responses by the contemporary artists Barbara Kruger (Body Language on the Anne H. Fitzpatrick Façade) and Mary Reid and Patrick Kelley (The Rape of Europa in the Fenway Gallery) engage with questions of power, agency, and sexuality as relevant today as they were in the Renaissance.
Together they help us to reconsider Titian for a new era.
$20 Timed Entry | Purchase Tickets
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