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Bellini and Titian, the Feast of the Gods

Video transcript

we're in the National Gallery in Washington DC and we're looking at one of their great canvases it's the Feast of the gods and there are actually three painters involved here two principal the main artist is Giovanni Bellini the Venetian and then ultimately his student petition who was sort of really great Renaissance master who completed the landscape Deborah Lee knee was after he died dosoo painted a bit of the landscape which I think then Titian painted over right ultimately this was done for the Duke of Ferrara so this is a dusty right so this is commissioned at the highest levels of the aristocracy in Venice but this was not a public Commission this was where his study which is to say it was allowed to have a kind of private subject matter which is a kind of playful sexuality really it is yeah this is a bacchanal feast of the gods it is eating and drinking and cavorting and cavorting and having pleasures of various kinds in the landscape all the figures are identifiable odds a Naiad satyrs Bacchus interestingly enough is the young child on the lower left in lightnings of mine that's right of course appropriately and the large figure just to the right I'm finding is mercury if you look closely there's all kinds of wonderful little interludes the color is very Venetian in its brilliance and in the way July night polities that's a result of the privileged place between Italy between the Florentine tradition on one hand the north and of course is the oil painting because the colors could not have been so saturated if it was 10 15 times were fresco the figures really feel part of the landscape they're not an excuse for the landscape they're very much embedded although they do kind of form this frieze along a single plane it looks very classical to me like a classical relief sculpture but it's an incredibly complex composition with 18 or so figures who you know are all in various positions and there's a kind of the figures are interrelated and there's nothing stiff about the composition this is really leading into what I consider the style of the high Renaissance where the figures have a kind of fluidity and grace they really are representing people with their own motivations and I love that the sunlight coming through looks like this part of the landscape that Bellini painted of the the trees this vertical trees and that yellow orange and blue sunlight right coming through the rice and the light and all of the things we consider very Venetian it is an incredibly ambitious painting that tells stories you would never tire of looking at and that you can imagine the Duke in his study King at these gods these Olympian gods enjoying the pleasures of earthly life so a kind of justification of the pleasures that he enjoys