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Titian's pastoral scene: a unique rendition of Lot and his daughters.

Titian's drawing called Pastoral Scene or Landscape with a Sleeping Nude and Animals ([ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 1 OMITTED]; see appendix, p. 845 for subsequent figures)(1) is no ordinary landscape, its unordinariness underscored by an unusual combination of elements: a huge, partly naked woman in the right foreground - her stomach, genitalia, and legs turned toward us, but her head, face, and upper body covered with her clothing or a draped cloth [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 1A OMITTED]; a boar and goat, each remarkably large and prominently placed in the foreground center; a herd of sheep behind the boar and goat; beyond them two figures resting or sleeping beneath a clump of trees [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 1B OMITTED]; some thatched houses at the middle left; and in the distant background [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 1C OMITTED], a domed and spired city on fire, its secret drama accentuated by the portrayal of burning buildings in the city's right quarter [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 1D OMITTED].

The peculiarities of this landscape and its elements have frequently been remarked upon. For example, the half-naked woman was described by Konrad Oberhuber as an "odd figure";(2) David Rosand described her as an "enigmatic sleeping nude";(3) Harold Wethey thought her presence "a bit eccentric," and stated that she "puzzled copyists".(4) The uncommonness of the drawing as a whole elicited comments too: M.A. Chiari Moretto Wiel wrote of the "difficulty of interpreting the work";(5) John Walsh, the director of the Getty Museum, saw it "full of enigmatic poetry";(6) Michael Kimmelman in his New York Times review of Getty drawings wrote that it was "compellingly strange";(7) and the late James Byam Shaw described the landscape as "imaginary, the setting for a mysterious subject."(8)

Few writers, however, have risked suggesting what its mysterious subject might be. Most scholars have dealt with the drawing's attribution and date. Assigned to Domenico Campagnola by S.A. Strong in 1902,(9) James Byam Shaw later attributed the drawing to Titian,(10) and most scholars accept that attribution as well as a date of around 1565 for the drawing. Konrad Oberhuber, in 1976, may have been the first to have proposed a theme for Titian's landscape, when he suggested that it might be an allegory of Sloth leading to Lust.(11) Clark Hulse ventured further and argued that the subject is Venus mourning the death of Adonis.(12) Both Oberhuber's and Hulse's suggestions hold clues to Titian's subject, which I propose is a unique rendition of Lot and His Daughters - a theme whose pictorial metamorphoses have touched on Lust and have alluded to aspects of Venus.

Before proceeding with support for my identification of Titian's drawing as a rendition of Lot and His Daughters, it is important to review the biblical account of Lot in Genesis 19.(13) The story begins when Lot welcomes two men-angels and offers them hospitality. Sodomites surround Lot's house and press him to hand over the visitors whom they want to violate. Lot tries to stop them, and even offers them his virgin daughters, but the Sodomites continue to press for the male visitors until God intervenes and strikes the Sodomites blind. Then the angels warn Lot that God will destroy Sodom and the other wicked cities, that Lot must leave Sodom with his family, and they must not look back. Lot agrees, but he tells God that he is afraid to live on the mountain, and he begs God to save the little town of Segor and let them live there. Lot stresses its small size: "There is this city here at hand, to which I may flee, it is a little one, and I shall be saved in it: is it not a little one, and my soul shall live?" God agrees to save Segor, but he urges Lot and his family to quickly flee there. Then God sends brimstone and fire to destroy the wicked cities and their inhabitants. Lot's wife disobeys, she looks back, and is turned into a statue (pillar) of salt. The biblical account reports that Lot suddenly becomes afraid to stay in Segor, but no reason is given. Lot, the biblical story continues, thus takes his daughters to live on the mountain in a cave. Believing that no males had survived to per petuate the human race, the elder daughter convinces her younger sister that they should make their father drunk with wine, then without his knowledge each should have incestuous sex with him to preserve his seed. On two successive nights each daughter lays with Lot, and each becomes pregnant. The older daughter bears a son called Moab, the younger a son called Ammon, and the two sons father the Moabite and Ammonite tribes.

The biblical story itself and its inconsistencies, mixtures of pagan myths, and varying biblical strands of different authors need not concern us. Once fixed in text, the story remained virtually as we know it now, although its Christian, Jewish, and Muslim exegetes and artists viewed the story in varied ways. Lot was most often seen as virtuous, a victim of fate, or a victim of women's wiles. The daughters were frequently excused for their acts, seen rather as a team that functioned like other paired matriarchs such as Sarah and Hagar, Leah and Rachel, Ruth and Naomi. They cooperated to exploit a male target, sometimes with drink, but always with their sexuality, and ostensibly to promote a patriarchal line. Notably Lot's daughters have sons, although their descendants, the Moabites and Ammonites, became persistent enemies of Israel.

Titian undoubtedly knew the biblical story as we know it today, and so our primary question is, how does the Titian drawing reflect this biblical story? First I will offer a very brief outline of the drawing's elements that suggest a version of Lot and His Daughters; later I will present argument and documentation to support these suggestions.

The large, half naked woman in the right foreground is one of Lot's daughters; the two small figures resting or sleeping beneath the trees are Lot and his other daughter; the thatched houses in the middle left represent the little town of Segor where Lot first fled; the sheep represent livestock that Lot brought out of Sodom, as do the boar and goat; the boar and goat, however, also serve as symbols of lust and lechery; and the distant city with burning buildings in the city's right quarter is Sodom.

To grasp the significance of Titian's choices and to understand his innovative iconography, an abbreviated overview of how the theme of Lot and His Daughters evolved in the visual arts is essential. Lot's seduction by his daughters was not a particularly popular theme in medieval art. Artists sometimes avoided the indelicate story of Lot's seduction and concentrated on Lot's flight, the destruction of Sodom, and the transformation of Lot's wife into a pillar of salt. For example, on a folio from an English manuscript of about 1250 [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 2 OMITTED], we see the destruction of Sodom, its dying inhabitants, Lot's wife as a statue (indicated by elliptical designs on her body), and in the upper right the hand of God pushing Lot forward, a sign of divine liberation. A slightly different approach to the theme is portrayed on a folio in the Psalter of St. Louis of about the same date, but again with no allusion to the daughters' seduction of Lot.(14) On that folio two angels are helping to destroy the wicked cities by miraculously tumbling buildings, and the transformation of Lot's wife is indicated by her image portrayed all in gray.

Emphasis on the same events appear frequently as a theme in the Speculum humanae salvationis, where Lot's liberation from Sodom is coupled with Abraham's liberation from Ur, the latter an event related by Peter Comestor in his Historia scholastica. Although the images vary, they emphasize Lot's flight, the destruction of Sodom, and the transformation of Lot's wife into a statue, as exemplified in the Kremsmunster manuscript of about 1330 [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 3 OMITTED].(15)

Similar choices appear on a folio in a German Universal Chronicle of about 1375-1380 [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 4 OMITTED],(16) which displays the novelty of an empty outline to represent Lot's wife as a statue. Some artists avoided Lot's seduction by eliminating portrayal of any part of the biblical account of Lot; a notable example is its total absence in the Queen Mary's Psalter.(17)

Although infrequently portrayed in medieval art, Lot's seduction does indeed turn up. In the Vienna Bible moralisee, c. 1250, the biblical account of Lot appears in two roundels at the top of folio 5 recto. In the top left roundel [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 5 OMITTED](18) are the destruction of the city, Lot's flight, and the wife's transformation, her change represented as a nude. The distinct drawing of the wife's breasts and the graphic depiction of her genitalia accentuate that nudity. Lot's seduction appears in the right roundel [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 6 OMITTED], represented by his two daughters embracing him and by Lot responding, his arms around each girl.

A different approach to Lot's seduction occurs in the fourteenth-century French Bible of Jean de Sy.(19) Contemporized imagery tells Lot's story, which begins on folio 27 verso where Lot leaves Sodom with his wife and daughters. Next, on folio 29 verso, at the left side of the picture, Lot's wife is turning back, while at the right side one of the daughters is depicted offering drink to Lot. The seduction itself appears on folio 30 recto [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 7 OMITTED]. Again one daughter serves drink to Lot, here at the picture's center, while the two nights of incestuous sex are portrayed as though they occurred simultaneously: Lot is in bed with one daughter at the left, and with the other daughter in another bed at the right.

A Bavarian version of Lot's seduction occurs in a Weltchronik of about 1405-1410.(20) Lot's flight with his daughters and his wife transformed into a pillar of salt are portrayed on folio 31 verso; then on 32 recto [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 8 OMITTED], two sequential scenes report Lot's seduction. One daughter offers drink to Lot in the left scene, while at the right, Lot is in bed with one daughter as the other daughter holds her sister's hand, a gesture meant to show how one daughter - perhaps the elder - encouraged the other.

A full portrayal of the story of Lot, including his seduction, also occurs in the fourteenth-century English Egerton Genesis.(21) Yet even in the late fifteenth century the theme did not have universal appeal. Albrecht Darer, for example, seems not to have had a taste for the scabrous subject. His portrayal of Lot and His Daughters Fleeing from Sodom and Gomorrah of about 1498 [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 9 OMITTED](22) reveals traditional elements of Lot's story in a realistic mode. The flight appears as a narrative with small figures in a spacious landscape. The city is bursting into bright flames with smoke taller than the buildings; Lot and the two daughters are carrying bundles, distaff, and a coffer; but there is no seduction scene. Durer's naturalistic realism enhances the biblical story, but something has changed. Lot's wife is no longer of central importance. Darer has relegated her to the distant background as a tiny dark figure on a mountain path, a shift of emphasis that is reflected in later examples, for henceforth Lot's wife rarely displays her earlier prominence, and sometimes she is simply not represented.

With or without the seduction scene, the Lot story became one of the Old Testament subjects portrayed with increasing frequency in the sixteenth century. Joachim Patinir, for example, though not interested in Lot's seduction, created several versions of the biblical story in dramatic landscape settings.(23) The theme of Lot's seduction, however, did achieve great success in the sixteenth century when decorous treatment of the biblical story moved rapidly toward the sensuous aspects of Lot's seduction. Erotic appeal took priority, though the individual artist determined the degree of eroticism. Moreover, the biblical concept of Lot as an innocent victim changed, for he was shown either a happily compliant figure or an aggressive seducer. For example, Jan de Cock, another Flemish artist interested in setting the story in a spacious landscape, included the seduction, and he highlighted it with the themes of drinking and physical contact [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 10 OMITTED].(24) One daughter pours drink at the left; the jug and pitcher in the foreground center suggest a connection between drink and lechery; and the other daughter, seductively dressed in a deep decollete, embraces Lot, who responds with lude caresses, his excitement revealed by the swelling cod piece visible under his opened coat.

Lucas Cranach, who repeatedly portrayed biblical women such as Salome and Judith, also produced multiple versions of Lot's seduction, similar to the one reproduced here [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 11 OMITTED].(25) Cranach relegated most of the biblical story to the distant background - the burning city, tiny figures in flight, and Lot's wife as a statue - and he emphasized the seduction, placing the three main characters in the foreground. One daughter plies Lot with drink, the other embraces his head, and Lot enjoys the drink and the sexual advances.

Lucas van Leyden executed several paintings and at least two prints of Lot and His Daughters - striking evidence of the theme's popularity. Although he depicted the entire biblical story in the paintings, exemplified by the one reproduced here [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 12 OMITTED],(26) he featured the seduction. In this painting the seduction appears in the foreground in front of a tent. One daughter pours wine while Lot sits next to his other daughter, and here he is the seducer. He aggressively reaches about the neck and shoulders of his daughter with one arm and holds her left hand with his other arm, and - significantly - here it is Lot who offers drink.

Lucas's engraving of Lot and His Daughters, 1530 [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 13 OMITTED](27) goes much further. Voluptuous nudity and flamboyant, seductive gestures dominate the scene, overpowering the tiny background allusions to the rest of the biblical account. Not even Jan Massys in his sensuous, bacchanalian versions of the theme went as far as Lucas. Lucas's engraving anticipates the salacious portrayals of a later date, such as those by Goltzius, Spranger, and Carraci as represented, for example, by Agostino Carraci's engraving [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 14 OMITTED].(28)

Frans Floris's treatments of Lot and His Daughters sizzle with uninhibited sexuality. In the Dresden painting [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 15 OMITTED](29) one of Lot's daughters, seductively naked except for a draped cloth that covers the lower part of her body, extends her arms around her father, who, seated close to her, appears submissive. The other daughter, placed further back, is asleep.

The Hermitage painting(30) suggests that any moral significance that Floris intended must have been lost on the painting's viewers. Floris brazenly portrayed Lot as a libidinous old lecher seducing one of his daughters. The artist seems to have been unconcerned about the painting's shameless sexuality, for the imagery provokes viewers to concentrate on Lot's lascivious appetite, an appetite accentuated by the portrayal of Lot lifting his daughter's blouse with one arm to expose her breast and reaching with his other arm to caress it. The other daughter has also been brought into the foreground, shown asleep on a bed just to the right and behind Lot.

Albrecht Altdorfer unhesitatingly portrayed the seduction as a racy scene of incestuous sex [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 16 OMITTED].(31) It is difficult to know who is seducing whom. In the foreground, Lot and one daughter are both nude, the daughter shown on top of Lot and between his legs. The other daughter in the middle background is nude too. Except for the fire in the distant background, Altdorfer did not depict any other part of the biblical story; he even excluded Lot's wife. Italian art reveals a similar interest in the erotic aspects of the seduction of Lot, exemplified by Bonifazio de'Pitati's Lot and His Daughters of c. 1545 [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 17 OMITTED],(32) about which I will have more to say later.

In sum, by the middle of the sixteenth century the biblical event of Lot seduced by his daughters had become a sensuous theme which artists allegedly used to warn viewers that lust and venery were the cause of mankind's ills, but which they also used as an excuse for uninhibited portrayals of erotic sexuality.(33)

But how then does Titian's drawing [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 1 OMITTED] fit into the pictorial development of the theme of Lot and His Daughters? No parallel treatment of the theme matches Titian's version. Titian did not use the common topoi of drinking and embracing, and he did not portray the theme with overtly erotic or scabrous elements. Yet a close look at the elements in Titian's drawing will confirm that Titian did portray the biblical story, including Lot and His Daughters, but in a novel way. To validate this identification of Titian's subject I would now like to return to the brief outline I presented earlier.

The large, half naked woman. She is, I suggested, one of Lot's daughters. She is undressing, preparing to have incestuous sex with Lot. I am not the first to suggest that she is undressing. The late James Byam Shaw, one of the foremost Titian drawings experts, described her as "a woman disrobing(?)."(34) Most important and significant, however, is that the woman's covered head, and especially her covered face, serves a double purpose: it shows her disrobing before having sex, and at the same time it functions as a sign of shame, because covering the face has served as a time-honored, ubiquitous sign of shame.(35) She is seated on, and leaning against, the rocky side of a small hill, which, I suggest, is meant to represent the place where Lot and his daughters finally found refuge after leaving the little town of Segor.

The two figures beneath the trees. I identified these figures as Lot and his other daughter resting or sleeping under the trees. Commentators have varied in their identification of the sex of these two figures, because, as Clark Hulse pointed out, they are "so sketchily drawn that it is difficult to tell who they are and what they are doing."(36) Hulse was convinced that the one with his back against the tree was male, but he thought that the other figure might be male or female because it was "more fully coiffed."(37) I agree that the figure against the tree is male, and I would add that the sketchiness of the man makes it impossible to determine his age, whether he is young, middle-aged, or old. Furthermore, I would argue that the other figure is female, not only because of the figure's coiffure, but also because of the heavy thighs and tucked up knees that mirror, in reverse, the thighs and position of the large half-naked woman in the foreground. Hulse also suggested that if these two are male and female, they may be none other than Venus and Adonis "taking their ease after lovemaking."(38) Yes indeed, "taking their ease after lovemaking" - but substitute Lot and a daughter for Adonis and Venus. Recall the sleeping daughter represented in Frans Floris's paintings, as here in fig. 15.

Why, however, would Titian choose to use such tiny figures in the background to portray a central event such as Lot and his daughter taking their ease after lovemaking? Titian was not the only artist of his period to use tiny figures in a spacious landscape to portray important religious events. Giorgione, a pioneer of landscape painting in Italy, subordinated the figures of saints in his Sunset Landscape with St. Roch, St. George, and St. Anthony, of ca. 1504 [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 18 OMITTED].(39) The landscape reveals episodes from the saints' lives, but they are not easy to distinguish: Saint Roch is in the foreground, where his companion is treating his legendary plague-diseased leg; Saint George and his dragon appear in the middle right in front of a rocky hill; Saint Anthony is almost hidden in the rocks at the far right, with his famous attribute, a pig, shown coming out of a hole in the rocks below; and one of the monstrous creatures who tempted Anthony appears in the middle foreground.

Titian's own work demonstrates that he did not hesitate to place significant events hidden in a deep background. Boldrini's woodcut of Titian's lost drawing of St. Jerome and Two Lions in the Wilderness [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 19 OMITTED] is exemplary.(40) Its major theme - Saint Jerome praying - is so small and placed so far back that it is barely noticeable, whereas in contrast the lions in the foreground are huge.

The thatched houses. Netherlandish artists frequently placed the story of Lot in a spacious landscape setting, as did Albrecht Durer. Titian also chose a landscape setting for the biblical story, but he may be the only artist to have portrayed the biblical Segor - the small place where Lot and his daughters first fled - as a group of thatched houses. Although the biblical account does not specify a village with thatched houses, and although it suggests a town rather than a village, recall the emphasis on the smallness of the little town when Lot begged God to save it so that he could live there because he was afraid to live on the mountain. To repeat Lot's description: "it is a little one, and I shall be saved in it: is it not a little one?" Titian may therefore have chosen thatched houses as a simple visual way of distinguishing the small town of Segor from the city of Sodom.

The animals. The sheep as well as the boar and goat, I've suggested, represent livestock that Lot brought out of Sodom. Although the sheep, boar, and goat are not precisely the same animals that artists such as Jan de Cock portrayed in showing Lot leaving Sodom with his livestock [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 10 OMITTED], Titian's animals served the same purpose. The boar and the goat in Titian's drawing, however, are not merely part of the narrative; they also have a significant symbolic function, and their prominent place at the center foreground has not escaped the attention of commentators. David Rosand wrote, "Like the satyr, the goat could add a contrasting note to the placid flock: along with a menacing boar and an enigmatic sleeping nude, it undermines the shaded repose of noontime."(41) Clark Hulse suggested that the goat "represents desire," that the animals "do not serve any narrative function," and that these animals embodied a double significance for Venus.(42) And perhaps Konrad Oberhuber's observation of the animals is what led him to suggest that the strange sleeping woman "watched over by a great boar" may be an "allegory of the sloth that leads to lechery."(43)

I agree with both Hulse and Oberhuber that Venus and Lust are involved, but in the context of Lot and His Daughters. The goat and the boar, ancient and commonplace symbols of Lust, were known to all. Titian, undoubtedly familiar with that symbolism and acquainted with the story of Lot and His Daughters as a theme of Lust and Venery, gave the goat and the boar a major place in his drawing.

The distant city. The domed and spired buildings in the background, marked by burning buildings in the right quarter, as I suggested, represent the city of Sodom. That it is indeed a city on fire is corroborated by other commentators who also remarked that the distant city in Titian's drawing is a city on fire. Clark Hulse wrote, "Over the right quarter of the city rise thick columns of smoke from a mysterious fire";(44) Michael Kimmelman commented that "the whole scene is set against the backdrop of a burning city";(45) and Byam Shaw prophetically stated that "the great city in the distance seems to be on fire (can it be Sodom?)."(46) No other biblical or historical city on fire has been suggested, and my search for some other significant city on fire has proved fruitless. Shaw was right to suggest it is indeed Sodom.

If Titian's drawing represents Lot and His Daughters, why did later copyists make unusual changes and additions? An engraving dated after 1565, completed soon after Titian's drawing [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 20 OMITTED] and attributed to Battista Angolo del Moro,(47) shows almost the same landscape, animals, and background scene as Titian's drawing. Yet it cannot be a direct copy made from Titian's drawing because it does not have the reverse composition that a print would normally have. Some other artist - still unknown - devised curious changes that this copyist must have used. The half-naked woman in the foreground of the Titian drawing has been replaced by a fully-clothed male, but the artist has represented him in the same position as the woman in Titian's drawing. The man's head and face are covered too, again paralleling Titian's covering of the woman's head and face, but his face and head are covered by his raised arm and his hat, not by showing him disrobing; and the artist has unambiguously depicted both figures under the trees as men. But most remarkable and significant are the two rabbits the artist has added in a prominent place in the foreground just to the right of the pig.

Just as peculiar is the pen and brown ink drawing in the Rennes museum [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 21 OMITTED], also allegedly a copy of the Titian drawing.(48) Strangely it does display a reverse composition - a bizarre reverse, since in this case it is a drawing and not a print. If based on Titian's original, since this is a drawing and not a print, it should have the same composition as Titian's. Nonetheless, the change of the women into men and the conspicuous addition of the two rabbits appear here too.

The late engraving by Lefebre of 1682 [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 22 OMITTED](49) also lacks the reverse composition that a print would have displayed if based on Titian's original. Yet it too reveals the same changes and the curious addition of the two rabbits. The compositional complications associated with the copies - the prints and the drawing - are not of great importance. What is essential to keep in mind is that no matter how or when the changes and additions were made, they are significant and interesting because they are the same in all the copies of Titian's drawing except for an incomplete drawing in the Uffizi.(50)

Why these changes and the addition of the rabbits? Did that first copyist have difficulty interpreting Titian's drawing? Or did he know perfectly well that the subject of Titian's drawing was the biblical story of Lot yet chose to change the women into men and to add the rabbits to the foreground?

All of the changes, but especially the conspicuous addition of the rabbits, suggests humorous gamesmanship. The rabbit (or hare), like the goat and boar, was an old symbol of fecundity and lust.(51) In ancient times the hare was worshiped almost universally for its fertility, and through the middle ages and even today, hares and rabbits are considered libidinous.

The artist who introduced the rabbits and placed them in the foreground amplified the meaning of the goat and boar as signs of lust and venery. He surely knew the association of rabbits with lust, as it was so common in Italian works of art. Pisanello's drawing, "Allegory of Lust" [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 23 OMITTED],(52) for example, reveals a nude woman with wild hair, a savage female who personifies Lust. The rabbit at her feet is an accompanying sign that emphasizes her lascivious nature.

The relationship of rabbits with libidinous sex and fecundity also appears in Piero di Cosimo's Mars and Venus.(53) A sleeping Mars and a dazed Venus suggest moments following lovemaking, while Cupid (under the left arm of Venus) and the rabbit, which looks over Venus's hip and nuzzles Cupid's hand, emphasize the sexual character of the scene. Paul Barolsky pointed out that the Latin for rabbit, cuniculus, was often used in the Renaissance to pun on the female pudenda, cunnus, and he suggested that the proximity of the rabbit to the pudenda of Venus in Piero's painting is a similar reference.(54)

Titian himself used rabbits in a sexual context in his Sacred and Profane Love.(55) He portrayed two rabbits in the left background, and in the background landscape on the right he represented a rabbit hunt. The rabbit hunt itself had sexual implications.

Thus, although some unknown copyist changed the women into men, that artist's addition of the rabbits to the foreground provided a giveaway clue. Did later copyists understand the changes and the addition of the rabbits? Or did they slavishly repeat that first copy, neither knowing Titian's drawing nor the nature of Titian's subject?

But to return to Titian's drawing [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 1 OMITTED]. What was Titian's purpose? Was he moralizing? Or does his drawing suggest subtle humor and irony? Titian's Laocoon caricature that we know through Boldrini's copy demonstrates that Titian himself was capable of sharp satire, for he changed Laocoon and his sons into apes.(56) Titian was sympathetic to colleagues and friends who freely parodied everything. His long, uninterrupted friendship with Pietro Aretino, a man famed for his loose life and indecent poetry, certainly emphasizes the devil-may-care side of Titian's lifestyle.

The possibility that subtle humor could lie behind Titian's drawing is indirectly reinforced by Bonifazio de'Pitati's painting of Lot and His Daughters [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 17 OMITTED], which shows how humor and parody had crept into the portrayal of that theme by Titian's time. I will not attempt to analyze Bonifazio's painting, for I only want to point out some novel features that reveal humor. Bonifazio portrayed the traditional Lot story of the departure from Sodom, the fire, and Lot's wife turning back, but he featured Lot's seduction in the foreground. One daughter tempts Lot with wine and with her body, while the other daughter sits holding a mirror, an attribute that could symbolize Prudence or could stand for Vanity and Lust. Her dress is lowered, seductively displaying her shoulder, and the two putti who play behind her suggest sexual love - especially the masked putto who may symbolize Jocus, a type of personified Folly. These elements characterize her as a sign of Lust, not Prudence. What is particularly humorous, however, is the satire that the masked putto indicates, for he reveals Bonifazio parodying Lot, poking fun of him as an old, ugly lecher.

Bonifazio's painting does not, to be sure, explain Titian's drawing. It does, however, suggest the mood and ambience of its time and place. Titian's drawing may, therefore, have been meant as humorous, even satirical comment. Yet no matter whether Titian's drawing was meant as subtle humor, parody, or straightforward reporting, Titian created an original scheme to portray the story of Lot. This is not so surprising. Anyone familiar with Salvatore Settis's brilliant and engrossing book Giorgione's Tempest: Interpreting the Hidden Subject(57) - will recognize that Titian's drawing would have appealed to the "taste for cryptic images" of the learned Italian aristocrats that Settis describes in fascinating detail. Perhaps Titian's drawing was meant to be a type of "hidden subject," devised, as Settis suggests, "to please only a few."(58)

Furthermore, as Settis emphasizes, the task of fitting a religious theme into this kind of art use was particularly complex, because a Christian theme had such a fixed iconographic orthodoxy, determined by theological concerns and by the public's Christian education. As Settis puts it, "The codification of iconography for religious subjects must have been that much more forceful for being accepted as serving the true Christian faith. Equally, it was that much more difficult to dare to choose a Christian theme as a way of expressing personal thoughts."(59)

Titian would indeed not have been fearful of such daring. His work is replete with iconographic inventions and novel interpretations. Titian's Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple, for example, contains a plethora of remarkable innovations. Among them is the unusual old egg woman seated in front of the wall of the temple stairs. David Rosand wrote about her, "The working of Titian's imagination is perhaps nowhere more clearly in evidence than in the figure of the old egg woman."(60) Taking a cue from Panofsky's description of her as a "symbol of unconverted Judaism,"(61) Rosand went further and demonstrated that the old egg woman is in fact a personification of Synagogue.(62)

Panofsky stressed Titian's inventiveness again and again. He pointed out, for example, that although Titian relied heavily on Ovid, he did not hesitate to supplement the text or change its essential meaning, and he felt free to use all kinds of visual models, ancient or modern, yet remained independent of the countless illustrated editions, translations, and paraphrases of the Metamorphoses. Panofsky underscored this observation when he wrote of Titian's Diana Surprised by Actaeon: "In essence, however, Titian's beautiful and sinister composition is not significantly indebted to any previous illustration of the Actaeon myth, and it differs from all of them... But just what looks like a triumph of poetic license is in reality the triumph of an imagination fertilized by attentive reading and intelligent thought."(63)

To create his novel version of the old theme of Lot and His Daughters, Titian must have analyzed the story's component elements, discarded a few of those elements, added some new ones, and shifted the emphasis on others. He eliminated Lot's wife, who had been increasingly pushed into the background by other artists such as Albrecht Durer [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 9 OMITTED], or even deleted as Albrecht Altdorfer had done [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 16 OMITTED]. Titian also rejected the popular topoi of drinking and physical contact in the seduction scene. He changed and added novel elements. His portrayal of the daughter disrobing was outrageously innovative, as was his placing Lot and his other daughter deep in the background, resting after their sexual encounter. And although other artists had included animals as part of Lot's flock, none had portrayed a huge goat and boar, and placed them prominently in the front of the picture. Yet many of Titian's contemporaries, especially his erudite friends and fellow artists, would have responded to the ample hints and would have recognized that the subject of the drawing was Lot and His Daughters.

Even some of Titian's modern interpreters have observed elements in the drawing that suggest this theme. Michael Kimmelman and Clark Hulse both remarked that a fire rages in the picture's background, and Byam Shaw went further with his question, "Can it be Sodom?"(64) and his observation that the woman in the foreground seemed to be disrobing. The goat and the boar, I noted, also provoked interest and several modern commentators have suggested that these animals perform a symbolic function - Oberhuber that they point to an allegory of Lust, and Hulse that they allude to aspects of the Venus and Adonis theme.(65)

Moreover, the bizarre copies of Titian's drawing that reveal the women changed into men and the addition of two rabbits suggests that at least the first copyist knew that Titian's subject was Lot and His Daughters. The rabbits are particularly significant since they amplify the connotations of lust and fecundity associated with the goat and boar. Gabor Klaniczay suggested the interesting possibility that Titian himself was that first "copyist," and that Titian made those changes as a humorous prank.(66) If so, Titian's original drawing was itself a satire.

In sum, Titian, a remarkably inventive artist, drew a new and unique version of Lot and His Daughters. It is but one more example of his inventiveness, his stunning ability to create an iconographic variation, a unique version of an ancient theme.


1 Now in the Getty Museum, acquired in 1985. For provenance and bibliography, see "Acquisitions 1985," 234; Goldner, 1988, 124; and Goldher, 1992, 353.

2 Oberhuber, 104, cat. no. 46.

3 Rosand, 1988, 77.

4 Wethey, 53.

6 Walsh, 177.

7 Kimmelman, B 12.

8 Shaw, 1984, 456.

9 Strong, 14, no. 59.

10 Shaw, 1969-70, no. 68.

11 Oberhuber, 104, no. 46.

12 Hulse, 29-38.

13 Biblical citations and quotations throughout this essay are from the Douay translation.

14 Thomas, folio 9 verso on pl. 9.

15 See the facsimile, Speculum humanae salvationis, Codex Cremifanensis 243; for additional examples, see Wilson and Wilson, 33 and 195.

16 For a brief notice about this manuscript, see Pierpont Morgan Library.

17 British Library Royal MS. 2 B.vii. The absence of any such imagery is readily observed in the facsimile; see Warner.

18 Bible moralisee, plate 10.

19 Bibliotheque Nationale MS. fr. 15397. For comments about this manuscript, see Meiss, pages listed in vol. 2 index; and Les Fastes du Gothique, 325-26.

20 For a description of the manuscript, its provenance, and some bibliography, see "Acquisitions 1988," 116-19.

21 British Library MS. Egerton 1894. To review the imagery, see the facsimile by James; and see Sandler, 2:143.

22 For a color reproduction, comments about the painting, and bibliography, see Gothic and Renaissance Art in Nuremberg, 276 and 278.

23 For example, see Friedlander, vol. 9, pt. 2, plate 211.

24 Ca. 1520-30. The artist is identified as Cornelis Cornelisz in Von der Osten and Vey, 179-80.

25 Dated 1529. Photo courtesy of the museum.

26 Photo courtesy of R.M.N. For additional examples, see Friedlander, vol. 10, plate 93.

27 Photo courtesy of the museum. For comments, see Jacobowitz and Stepanek, 238, no. 98.

28 Photo courtesy of the museum.

29 Photo courtesy of the museum.

30 St. Petersburg, The Hermitage Museum. For a fine color reproduction, see Nikulin, plate 196.

31 Dated 1537. Photo courtesy of the museum. For a color reproduction of an enlarged detail of the other daughter, see Winzinger, plate 55a.

32 Photo courtesy of the museum. For comments on this painting, see Harrison, 12.

33 In connection with the popularity of Lot and His Daughters in the sixteenth century, see Smith. I am indebted to Keith Moxey for this reference.

34 Shaw, 1984, 456.

35 During a conversation with me about the Titian drawing, Salvatore Settis suggested the same double significance for the woman's covered face.

36 Hulse, 3 5.

37 Ibid.

38 Ibid.

39 Photo courtesy of the museum.

40 Photo courtesy of the museum. For comments about this woodcut, see Rosand and Muraro, 146 and 148; see also Wethey, 49 and 237, no. X-33.

41 Rosand, 1988, 77.

42 Hulse, 33.

43 Oberhuber, 104, cat. no. 46.

44 Hulse, 36.

45 Kimmelman, B 12.

46 Shaw, 1984, 456.

47 Photo courtesy of the museum. See Hulse, 36, n. 21, who states that this attribution is by Konrad Oberhuber.

48 Photograph courtesy of the museum. See Wethey's comments, 163.

49 Photograph courtesy of the Fondation Custodia Institut Neerlandais. See Wethey, idem.

50 See Wethey, idem.

51 For brief descriptions of the symbolic meanings of the hare and rabbit, see Rowland, 88-93 and 133-35; and Friedmann, 286-88.

52 Photograph courtesy of the museum.

55 The painting is in the Gemaldegalerie, Berlin. For a reproduction, see Barolsky, 45.

54 Barolsky, 44-45.

55 The painting is in the Galleria Borghese, Rome. See the reproduction in Panofsky, fig. 128.

56 See Barolsky, 174-75.

57 Settis.

58 Ibid., 128.

59 Ibid., 129-30.

60 Rosand, 1982, 111-18.

61 Panofsky, 36-39.

62 Rosand, 1982, 111-18.

63 Panofsky, 140-41.

64 Kimmelman, B 12; Hulse, 36; and Shaw, 1984, 456.

65 Oberhuber, 104; and Hulse, 33.

66 Gabor Klaniczay offered that interpretation during a discussion after my lecture about the Titian drawing (Budapest, October 1995).


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-----. "Giorgione, Venice, and the Pastoral Vision." In Places of Delight: The Pastoral Landscape, exh. cat., ed. Robert C. Cafritz, Lawrence Gowing, and David Rosand, 76-79; 81, n. 67. Washington, DC, 1988

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Author:Mellinkoff, Ruth
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Date:Sep 22, 1998
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