This study investigates how well l.acanian psychoanalytic Gaze theory integrates with
traditional art historical approaches, and evaluates the interpretive potential of this combined
method when applied to western figurative paintings. Gaze theor
moments from narratives that often highlighted human frailty and mortality. At different
periods in his life. Titian tipped the scale toward seduction or toward tragedy. The
dramatic compositions, extreme key contrasts, and manipulative brushwork of Titia
ongoing debate between the arts of painting and poetry. This quote is important, for it
concerns painting's "art": depicting "the secrets of the heart." Dolce explored this further
in his 1557 book on painting, Dialogo della pittura. As summarized by Norm
an understanding of his individual viewpoint. As a member of the Vecelli family, Titian came
from and maintained a social background above most artisans. Titian later strengthened and even
increased his socially elevated artistic position by becoming Knig
TITIAN'S LUCREZIA ROMANA VIOLAT A DA
The Artist and his Milieu
Titian's family background, the contacts and skills provided by his early artistic training,
and his lifelong friendships with humanist scholars, all
. Women. Art and Ideology: Questions for Feminist Art Historians." Women's
Studies Quarterly 15 (Spring/Summer 1987): 2-9.
Ragland-Sullivan. Ellie. "A Writing of the Real." Visible Language 22 (Autumn 1988):
. Jacques Lacan and the Philosophy of
."Some Thoughts on Theories of Fetishism in the Context of Contemporary
Culture." October 65 (Summer 1993): 3-20.
."You Don't Know What is Happening. Do You. Mr. Jones?' In Framing
Feminism: Art and the Women's Movement 1970-85, ed Rozsika Parker and
Mathews, Patricia. "Returning the Gaze: Diverse Representations of the Nude in the Art
of Suzanne Valadon." The Art Bulletin 73 (September 1991):415-430.
Melville, Stephen .:' Division of the Gaze, or, Remarks on the Color and Tenor of Contemporary
Kendall. Richard. "Dealing with Degas." In Dealing with Degas: Representations of
Women and the Politics of Vision, ed. Richard Kendall and Griselda Pollock, I 121. New York: Universe, 1992.
. and Griselda Pollock, ed. Dealing with Degas: Representations
The Poesie: Expressive Paintings Fit to
Decorate <.m t\lcAz.ar
The mythological paintings for Prince Philip included the poesie series, six
paintings loosely based on stories in Ovid's Metamorphosis.
The poesie investigated the
formal and technical challe
Your gifts as an artist and your genius for painting persons from life appear
to us so great that you deserve to he called the Apelies of this age.
Following the example of our forerunners, Alexander the Great and
Octavius Augustus. of whom one would only
tum rested upon disputes over a raped woman's guilt." In The City of God (413-426) St.
Augustine had argued that Lucretia's prideful shame-driven suicide proved her guilty of pleasurebased consent and thus of adultery." Augustine's verdict influenced succ
Sextus Tarquinius' ultimate threat by painting in a second male figure who evokes both
the slave and. as witness. the malicious power of slanderous gossip.
Faced with a choice between the rape of her body or the irredeemable violation of
her good name. Lu
Tarquinius alone. This contradicted Roman custom and belief, which maintained that rape and
adultery equally and irreparably polluted a woman. A wife involved in illicit sex contaminated her
husband and children with a taint removable only through her dea
She answered never a word. Voice and power of speech and thought itself fled
from her breast. But she trembled, as trembles a little lamb that,
caught straying from the fold, lies low under a ravening wolf
What could she do?
Should she struggle? In a stru
absence: 'The gesture was becoming; becoming, too, her modest tears; her face was
worthy of its peer. her soul.?"
In this description of Lucretia's virtuous demeanor, Ovid
described her physical beauty with a reference to her soul. This makes it clear tha
Linking the individual motifs within the painting-the man, the woman, the naked blade,
the spectator in the shadows. and till bedroom setting- and connecting their combination to a
narrative, begins what Panofsky referred to as an "iconographical
the painting from left to right. Behind the bed a second man lifts aside the bed curtains to
see from the artist's letters referenced above, the painting was partially
complete in 1568, and finished sometime before August of 1571. It traveled
depicting "the secrets of the heart." Titian made her sorrow come alive in such a way that it
transformed a potentially erotic presentation of a moral theme into a composition that plays on the
This powerful combination is responsible
Atikins, Beryl, Alain Duval, Helene Lewis, and Rosemary Milne. Collins Robert French
Dictionary. New York: Harper Collins, 1993.
Berdini, Paolo. "Women under the Gaze: a Renaissance Genealogy." Art History 21
(December 1998): 565-590.
 as lacking or castrated, see "Anamorphosis," and "The line and light," in Four
Fundamental Concepts. 85-90, 92. For an analysis of l.acan's
view point, see Tom
Conley, "The Wit of the Letter: Holbein's Lacan." in Vision in Context: Historical and
power of the eye is exercised to the maximum in vision. In every picture, this central field cannot
but be absent. and replaced by a hole-a reflection, in short, of the pupil behind which is situated
the gaze. Consequently, and in as much as the picture e
information which can he passed from ourselves to oursdves-a special game which
reflects back at us our corporeality, that corporeality which also has an alien origin."
Lacan, .The concept of analysis," in Book I, 153.
"In the psyche. there is nothing
as well as Lacan's notions of the separation inherent in hoth the cultural screen and in the ego's
misapprehension of an Imaginary self-identify.
Jacques l.acan, "A materialist definition of the phenomenon of consciousness," in The
Seminar of Jacques L
other the confirmation that the image he perceives is his own." Dor, Introduction to the
Reading of Lacan. 159.
Lacan, "Seminar of January 22, 1958," in Dor, Introduction to the Reading of
Lacan, 107. In his re-writing of the Freudian Oedipal complex,
an expression of gratitude.
The adult in turn interacts with the infant-child in a way that extends
the pleasurable feeling. This unanticipated satiation and pleasure exceed hiological needs and
becomejouissancl'. Sec also Dor, Introduction to the Reading
In reference to the Gaze as used to discuss visual art in a critique of the patriarchal
bias of Western culture, sec Griselda Pollock, "Degas/Images/Women; Women/Degas/Images:
What Difference Does Feminism Make to Art History?" in Dealing with Degas: R
Erwin Panofsky. "Iconography and konology: An Introduction to the Study of
Renaissance Art," in Meaning in the Visual Arts (Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1955),
26-31; Idem, "Studies in Iconology: I. Introduction," in Studies in Iconology: Humani
meaning from Lacan's texts. That this difficulty is intentional can be seen in statements like
the following: "I 'rn not surprised that something of a misunderstanding remains to be
dispelled, even in people who think they're following me. Don't think I'm
(morphemes and phonemes as the basic structure oflanguage). words, phrases, things,
subjects, relationships. and actions. As signifiers, each takes on value (meaning,
definition) through opposition with and difference from other items in a closed system.