The Death of Actaeon is a painting produced by Titian in 1562. It serves as a sequel to Diana and Actaeon, illustrating the tragic conclusion of the story. The painting shows Actaeon’s transformation into a stag by the angered goddess Diana, and his ultimate fate of being torn apart by his own hounds.
Titian was commissioned by Prince Philip, King of Spain, to create six large mythological pieces including Diana and Actaeon. The Death of Actaeon stands out for its erotic yet dramatic nature – exemplifying Titian’s ability to fuse both elements together seamlessly in his work. He experimented with various effects throughout the painting, allowing forms to dissolve into thick impasto splotches while also incorporating more polished passages.
The artwork measures 178 cm by 205 cm and can be found at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. As part of his “poesie” series inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Titian intended for these paintings to be more narrative than illustrative. In essence, The Death of Actaeon portrays a scene of transformation from man to animal followed by death – alluding to classic themes such as punishment for trespassing or ambition.
Overall, Titian’s The Death of Actaeon is a masterful example that showcases his skills as an artist who tested various techniques – producing exquisite compositions that have endured through time as striking works with vast symbolic meanings beyond their surface value.