Sunday, February 8, 2015


Giulio Romano
Triumph of Titus and Vespasian

Today's painting is a near relative of yesterday's. Giulio Romano painted both during the 1530s as components of larger decorating schemes for the duke of Mantua, Federico Gonzaga. The so-called Cabinet of the Caesars contained eleven portraits of Roman emperors by Titian. Beneath each of these hung a painting by Giulio Romano depicting the emperor's deeds. During its first century of existence the panel above remained in Mantua, installed in the Cabinet of the Caesars, enhancing the prestige of successive Gonzaga heirs. By the 1630s Italian wealth and power were in decline. Agents for Charles I of England were able to buy both the Bacchus and the Titus and ship them to London. Twenty years later when Charles was executed, the English royal collection fell into the hands of Cromwell's revolutionaries and was dispersed. After changing hands several more times, The Triumph of Titus and Vespasian found favor with Louis XIV. From the French king's possession this remarkable painting passed smoothly into the Louvre, where it remains today. The detailed event in Giulio's picture derived from a passage in Suetonius describing the triumphal ceremonies in Rome after the destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem in A.D. 70.