José de Ribera: Tityus
Oil on canvas
227 x 301 cm, 1632
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado
The “Furias”: From Titian to Ribera
MADRID • Museo Nacional del Prado • Until 4 May 2014
|The “Furias”. From Titian to Ribera offers an in-depth analysis of the Renaissance and Baroque’s interpretation of antiquity and looks at the circulation and exchange of artists, works and aesthetic ideas across Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. In addition, it seeks to encourage a reflection on why certain forms acquire meanings that are passed down from one generation to the next. Despite their classical origins, the “Furias” first appeared as a group in art in 1548 when Mary of Hungary commissioned Titian to paint four canvases for her palace at Binche (on the outskirts of Brussels) depicting Tityus, Tantalus, Sisyphus and Ixion, figures whom she associated with the German princes who had rebelled against her brother, the Emperor Charles V, and whom he had defeated the year before at Mühlberg. |
In Spain, the name the “Furias” was applied to four figures who dwelled in the Graeco-Roman Hades as a punishment for defying the gods: Tityus, whose liver was constantly pecked at by a vulture for attempting to rape one of Zeus’s lovers; Tantalus, condemned to vainly try to obtain food and drink for serving up his son at a banquet of the gods; Sisyphus, who had to endlessly roll an enormous rock for revealing Zeus’s infidelities; and Ixion, obliged to turn forever on a wheel for attempting to seduce Hera. Strictly speaking, the Furies were female figures who personified punishment and vengeance and were responsible for ensuring that those in Hades underwent their punishments. In Spain, however, and from the 16th century onwards the name was used for Titian’s canvases of Tityus, Ixion, Tantalus and Sisyphus, and the term thus became used for the subject in general.
Divided into five sections, the exhibition includes 2 drawings, 8 prints, 1 medal and 16 paintings and centres on a copy of the Laocoön from the Museo de Escultura in Valladolid.
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