This young woman repeatedly posed for Titian. All the paintings in which she appears, including the famous Venus of Urbino (1538, Florence, Uffizi Galleries), were created for Francesco Maria della Rovere, the nephew of Pope Julius II and Duke of Urbino from 1508, or for his son Guidobaldi. The present work is probably from that same period. The charming, erotically charged appearance of the unknown woman is not to be understood as a portrait: here Titian is celebrating a general concept of beauty, which was enhanced by contemporary lyric poetry under the influence of Petrarch. Along with the revealing posture of the beautiful woman, the main motif is the stimulating combination of fur and skin, an artistic strategy used before Titian by Giorgione in his Laura. The precious fur cloak has slid down the girl’s right shoulder, exposing her breast. She is still holding the cloak to her body with her right hand, but she has made a first beginning. The ambivalence of her posture is based on a classical model: the type of the Venus Pudica resonates in Titian’s painting. The precious jewellery – strings of pearls, ear-rings, bracelet and ring – creates distance and also opens another level of meaning in the picture as a portrait of a Venetian courtesan. In 1630 the painting found a famous admirer: Rubens copied Titian’s work, which was then in English ownership, and later further developed the older artist’s innovation in his own style. From Titian’s comparatively reserved Renaissance portrait, Rubens developed an equally complex Baroque alternative in a full-length portrait of his second wife, Helena Fourment. © Cäcilia Bischoff, Masterpieces of the Picture Gallery. A Brief Guide to the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna 2010


  • Title: Girl in a Fur
  • Creator: Tiziano Vecellio,called Titian
  • Creator Lifespan: ca. 1488 - 1576
  • Creator Nationality: italian
  • Creator Gender: male
  • Creator Death Place: Venice
  • Creator Birth Place: Pieve di Cadore
  • Date Created: 1530/1540
  • Style: Italian Renaissance
  • Provenance: bought 1651
  • Physical Dimensions: w637 x h955 x d21 cm (without frame)
  • Inventory Number: GG 89
  • Artist Biography: A biographer related a telling story about Titian: Emperor Charles V once picked up a brush for him, to which Titian responded, "Sire, I am not worthy of such a servant." The Emperor replied, "Titian is worthy to be served by Caesar." Only Michelangelo's closeness with the popes compares. Legend suggests that at age nine Titian began training in Venice. He studied with Bellini, but Giorgione's influence was decisive: Titian's forms became larger, treatment of light subtler, and his mood gentler. In 1516 Titian became painter to the Venetian republic, and in 1533 Charles V named him court painter. Roman painting could match the grandeur of his forms, but Titian's brilliant, expressive color was unprecedented. Titian's portraits combined incisive, sensitive characterizations with an opulent treatment of accessories, eventually developing into the official style that inspired Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, and many artists of the 1800s.After 1555 Titian painted mythological works for Philip II of Spain, rising to new heights in creating sensuous flesh, with colors flowing in harmony rather than contrasting boldly as in his youth. What from a distance appear to be magical combinations of form and color prove upon closer inspection to be blobs of paint, thumb marks, and brush scratches. Titian used oil paint for itself, exploring its expressive rather than representational possibilities. © J. Paul Getty Trust
  • Type: paintings
  • External Link: http://www.khm.at/en/collections/picture-gallery
  • Medium: Oil on Canvas

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