Titian's Rape of Europa

Dubbed “a mighty poet” by American author Henry James, Titian remains one of the most celebrated painters in Western art. Since his death in 1576, the artist’s reputation has never waned. In Gilded Age America, Titian paintings became the peerless prizes of leading collectors and quickly rose to the top of Isabella Stewart Gardner’s wish list. In 1896, she landed his masterpiece, The Rape of Europa. It became the sole example of his celebrated cycle of poesie outside of Europe, inspired an entire gallery in her newly built museum, and contributed to England’s national outcry over the loss of its art treasures. This book – the first dedicated to Europa – tells the painting’s story in Gardner’s time, in Titian’s, and offers rare insights into the artist’s virtuoso technique.

Published here for the first time, dramatically enlarged details of the composition demonstrate Titian’s deft touch and dazzlingly technical accomplishment. These bravura passages recently revealed by the painting’s comprehensive cleaning – the first since its arrival in America – are accompanied by commentary from the conservator, Gianfranco Pocobene, who returned Europa to its original glory.

This book accompanies the Gardner Museum exhibition, Titian: Women, Myth, and Power, reuniting his poesie series in the United States for the first time. Gift at the Gardner also carries a hardcover title, Titian: Love, Desire, Death, which is the National Gallery’s exhibition catalog for the same suite of paintings.

Edited by Nathaniel Silver, previous William and Lia Poorvu Curator of the Collection at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (2018-2022)
80 pages
Published by Paul Holberton Publishing, 2020
Measures 9.3" x 7.6"