Titian, poetics and the performance of masculinity




Coughlin, Michael Trevor

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By studying several paintings by Venetian artist Tiziano Vicelio, better known as Titian, this thesis explores how the Venetian painter’s works resisted the encroaching arrival of a masculine identity and reflected on the ramifications inherent in its performance. I will provide evidence that the contemporary discourses and/or criticisms of artistic production that informed Titian’s style allow us to situate his feminized male within both the historical framework of sixteenth-century Venice, and the delicate negotiation of gender that was taking place at the same time. This thesis also situates Titian’s works within contemporary literary acknowledgements about the fluidity of gender. I will begin by examining Titian’s painting of David and Goliath in the church of Santo Spirito in Venice, as a prelude to my main analysis of the whole cycle. Next I will study his painting of Tarquin and Lucretia, concluding with an evaluation of his enigmatic Il Bravo. I will argue that, using the metaphorical power of contrast in his paintings Titian was highlighting the violent nature of masculinity and the tragic consequences of its performance, while simultaneously offering the image of the feminized male as an exemplar.



poetics, masculinity, Titian, gender, Venice, Renaissance