Orpheus and Eurydice

Titian (Tiziano Vecellio) (Italian, Pieve di Cadore ca. 1485/90?–1576 Venice)

ca. 1508–12
Oil on wood
15 9/16 x 20 7/8 in. (39.6 x 53 cm)
Credit Line:
Accademia Carrara, Bergamo, Guglielmo Lochis Collection, 1866
  • Gallery Label

    Although not accepted by all critics as a work by Titian, the young artist most likely painted this ambitious mythological, pastoral scene early in his career, while he was under the influence of Giorgione. It shows two moments in the tragic tale told by Ovid of Orpheus and his bride, Eurydice. At left the beautiful Eurydice is bitten by a "serpent" (shown as a snaky dragon), while at right Orpheus has rescued her from the inferno of Hades and is making the fatal error of turning back to look at her, thus losing her forever. The landscape itself plays a major role in creating the mood of the narrative, with the figures scrambling through the hilly terrain and the fires of Hades contrasting with the gentle skies at left. Paintings including fires and inferni were popular in Venice at this time, inspired in large part by the work of the northern artist Bosch, which had been installed in the Palazzo Ducale.