Tarquin and Lucretia (1570 – 1576) by Titian

Tarquin and Lucretia - Titian - 1570 - 1576

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Artwork Information

TitleTarquin and Lucretia
Date1570 - 1576
Art MovementMannerism (Late Renaissance)

About Tarquin and Lucretia

The artwork titled “Tarquin and Lucretia” is a profound representation of historical narrative by the renowned artist Titian. Rendered between 1570 and 1576, this oil painting embodies the stylistic characteristics of Mannerism, a phase of Late Renaissance art that emphasizes complexity and virtuosity. With its dramatic and emotional content, typical of a history painting, Titian illustrates a scene of intense interpersonal dynamics on canvas.

In the artwork, Titian portrays the moment of Lucretia’s tragic confrontation with Tarquin, the son of the Etruscan king of Rome. The setting appears to be a dark, intimate space that contributes to the tension and drama of the scene. Lucretia is depicted reclining on a bed, her body partially draped with a fabric that accentuates her vulnerability. She is turned away in distress, one arm defensively raised as she attempts to ward off Tarquin.

Tarquin, on the other hand, is shown in an assertive stance, with one hand gripping Lucretia’s wrist and the other poised, suggesting imminent violence. His facial expression is earnest and resolute, indicating his determination and the gravity of the fateful moment. The composition, characterized by dynamic diagonals and strong contrast between light and shadow, heightens the emotional impact and directs the viewer’s focus to the figures and their interaction.

The painting encapsulates a critical story from Roman history and literature, where the virtue of Lucretia and her subsequent fate becomes a catalyst for political change. Through this work, Titian does not simply depict an episode from the past but explores themes of power, honor, and morality that remain relevant to the human condition.

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