TitianS La Bella Portrait Of A

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Titian?S La Bella ? Portrait Of A Woman In A Blue Dress Essay, Research Paper “How has the concept of beauty been defined differently for men and women in portraiture?” ” … A thing of beauty is a joy forever : It’s loveliness increases ; it will never Pass into nothingness … ” John Keats What is beauty? Seemingly a continually evolving and infinitely elusive ideal – mankind has been obsessed with the concept of beauty throughout the ages. Portraiture, as an essential channel of visual communication, has traditionally been the medium through which definitions of beauty are graphically expressed. Particularly in the Renaissance where portraiture often served celebratory or commemorative purposes, it was crucial that portraits were accepted as aesthetically

pleasing reflections of the social ideals of the time. Hence by comparing and contrasting a range of different portraits of depicting men and women of the Renaissance such as Titian’s La Bella, Bronzino’s Eleonora de Medici, Sofonisba Anguissola’s Self Portrait, Vasari’s Alessandro de Medici, Bronzino’s Cosimo de Medici as Orpheus and Pedro Berruguete’s Portrait of Federico da Mentelfeltro, viewers can gain an understanding of the conceptual differences in definitions of masculine and feminine beauty during this period. Titian’s La Bella – Portrait of a Woman in a Blue Dress (1536) is a captivating example of Renaissance ritratto (portraiture) demonstrating ideals of feminine beauty. It presents the image of a vibrant young woman. With smooth, light skin tone and

delicate rounded face the woman is clearly defined as an exceptional beauty. Framed at a slight angle to the picture frame, La Bella emerges from the dark neutral background with subtly averted gaze, at once both inviting and refrained. Through the conflict of La Bella’s seductive yet submissive presentation, the portrait captures the essence of Renaissance female beauty perfectly, presenting the mildly sensual nature of the woman’s image as a joy in itself. To complement her dignified demeanour, La Bella wears an amazingly intricate and extravagant blue gown. For a period when women were without a public voice and remained dependant on signs of visual identity such as clothing and jewellery, such a display of finery implies significant wealth and social status. Considering

the seductive rendering of the fabric utilising costly lapis lazuli, it is clear Titian desired to present an image of ultimate feminine loveliness. The portrait is free from overt artistic mechanisms or devices – Titian simply defines her through her exceptional yet anonymous beauty – as the title indicates. Clearly for him the concept of feminine beauty could be defined simply as physical attractiveness. She has no attributes or companion to assert specific personal characteristics. According to Renaissance logic, her good looks are obviously the outward manifestation of her inner virtues of mind and soul. Therefore it is clear that the concept of feminine beauty of this time was directly and inextricably linked to pleasing physical appearance, the depiction of which

viewers derived great pleasure from. Placed in the social context of the time, this type of portrait portraying unidentified, beautiful women in modern clothing was extremely popular in Venice. Common features which bound these portraits into a genre now labelled as “generic beauty portraits” include the illustration of women with milky alabaster skin, wavy reddish-gold hair, large dark eyes, detailed texturised draping clothing with their figures presented in half or three quarter stance. The combined effect of these different characteristics was to present an‘ideal woman’ – a visual embodiment of the ultimate feminine vixen. Overall the effect was to create an erotic and sensual invitation for viewers to reach out and touch these unattainable images of perfection.