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Renaissance Top 48: Feast of the Gods

Identification

Giovanni Bellini and Titian, The Feast of the Gods, 1529. 

Oil on canvas, approximately 5'7" x 6'2". 

 

Context

Bellini actually drew from the work of one of his own students, Giorgione de Castelfranco, who developed his master's landscape backgrounds into poetic Arcadian reveries. 

Derived from Arcadia, an ancient district of the central Peloponnesus, the term Arcadian referred, by the Renaissance, to an idyllic place of rural, rustice peace and simplicity. 

Giorgione had a premature death, so Bellini embraced his student's interests and, in the painting, developed a new kind of mythological painting. 

During this time artists liked to incorporate shape/design infused with color. 

Content

Describes a banquet of the Gods. Olympians gathered together on a summer evening. 

The figures are spread across the foreground.

Satyrs attend the gods, nymphs bring jugs of wine, a child draws from a keg, couples engage in love play, and the sleeping nymph with exposed breast receives amorous attention. The mellow light of a long afternoon glows softly around the gathering, caressing the surfaces of colorful draperies, smooth flesh, and polished metal. 

Warm, lush tones of the figures, and a background of cool green tree-filled glades which extends into the distance; at the right, a screen of trees creates a verdant shelter. 

The atmosphere is idyllic, a lush countryside providing a setting for the never-ending pleasure of the immortal gods. 

http://www.nga.gov/collection/gallery/gg17/gg17-1141.0.html

Image

Form

Texture revealed by the full resources of gently and subtly harmonized color. 

Oil on canvas. 

Paint application.

Approximately 5'7" x 6'2". 

The flesh tones, iridescent silks, and even the foreground pebbles here demonstrate his delicate touch. 

 

Function

The duke of Ferrara, Alfonso d'Este, commissioned this work for a room in the Palazzo Ducale. 

To decorate the camerino d'alabastro (alabaster study) of his castle in Ferrara.