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Charles V with a Dog by Titian

Charles V with a Dog by Titian

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Venus of Urbino (1538)

Artist: Titian (c.1488�)
Medium: Oil painting on canvas
Genre: Portrait art - one of the most famous female nudes in art history
Movement: School of Venetian Painting
Location: Uffizi Gallery, Florence.

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Portrait of a Gentleman, 1569

Although the identity of the sitter is unknown his elegant dress and bearing suggest that he was an individual of wealth and distinction. The inclusion of a hunting dog was quite common in portraits of aristocrats, and the gold chains are a usual sign of honor. The suggestion of a military identification is enhanced by the gesture of his hand fisted at his waist, and the standing, three-quarter-length pose was generally used by Mor in his paintings of aristocrats as opposed to the more informal poses he used in his likenesses of middle-class subjects.

The most likely precedent for this painting is the Portrait of Charles V (Prado, Madrid), done in 1532 or 1533 by the Venetian artist Titian. From Titian, Mor adapted the compositional arrangement for his depiction of a standing man with a dog. Similarly, the way that light is employed, brilliantly illuminating selective portions of the figure while arbitrarily obscuring other parts in dark shadow, is thoroughly Titianesque. Mor's style also reveals his training in his native Flanders, in his close attention to detail and delight in depicting textures.

The deft handling of paint and the astute psychological presentation clearly demonstrate why Mor was such a sought-after portraitist during the sixteenth century, anticipating the achievements of the great portraitist of the aristocracy in the following century, Anthony van Dyck.

More information on this painting can be found in the Gallery publication Early Netherlandish Painting, which is available as a free PDF https://www.nga.gov/content/dam/ngaweb/research/publications/pdfs/early-netherlandish-painting.pdf


upper left: Antonius mor pingebat a. 1569


Probably Sir Peter Lely [d. 1680], London. (sale, London, 18 August 1682).[1] George John Spencer, 2d earl Spencer [1758-1834], Althorp House, Northamptonshire, by 1822[2] The Earls Spencer, Althorp House Albert Edward John Spencer, 7th earl Spencer [1892-1975], Althorp House, until 1927 (Duveen Brothers, Inc., London and New York) purchased February 1930 by Andrew W. Mellon, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. deeded 28 December 1934 to The A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh gift 1937 to NGA.

[1] "A Man with a Gold Chain and a Dog," 3 ft 5 in by 2 ft 9 in, is listed after Antonis Mor's name in the handlist for the sale of Sir Peter Lely's collection "Sir Peter Lely's Collection," Burlington Magazine 83 (1943), 187. Lely's collection also included a self-portrait, among other works by Mor. Dallaway's notes to Horace Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting in England. , 2d ed., Ed. James Dallaway, 5 vols. (London, 1826), I: 240, first connected the painting, then in the Spencer collection, with the item in the Lely sale. Joanna Woodall has made the interesting suggestion that the picture may be identical with a three-quarter-length portrait by Mor in the Orleans collection, in conversation with Martha Wolff, 4 February 1985 see Louis-François Dubois de Saint-Gelais, Description des Tableaux du Palais Royal. (Paris, 1727), 62-63, as the portrait of a Spaniard from the collection of Monsieur, that is, Philippe de France, Duke of Orléans, d. 1701. This may be the picture sold with part of the Orléans collection in London in April 1793, no. 49, for 15 guineas, as a self-portrait by Mor see Gustav Friedrich Waagen, Treasures of Art in Great Britain. , 4 vols. (London, 1845), 2: 501. Christiaan Kramm, De levens en werken der hollandsche en vlaamsche Kunstchilders beeldhouwers, graveurs, en bouwmeesters. , 7 vols. (Amsterdam, 1857-1864) 4: 1160-1161, first linked the reference in the 1793 Orléans sale to the portrait then in the Spencer collection. However, there are a number of discrepancies between Dubois de Saint-Gelais' relatively precise description and the Gallery's painting. Thus Dubois de Saint-Gelais does not mention chains of honor, sword, or dagger, but does describe a signet ring on the hand resting on the dog's collar. Comments on the painting provided by Joanna Woodall.

[2] Dibdin, Thomas Frognall. Aedes Althorpianae or an Account of the mansion, books, and pictures, at Althorp the residence of George John earl Spencer, K.G. , 2 vols., London, 1822: 1:262-263.

Associated Names
Exhibition History
Technical Summary

The painting has been transferred from a panel to a canvas support.[1] The original support was composed of three boards joined vertically. The background, originally very thinly painted, is now somewhat abraded and has been rather heavily inpainted, perhaps to give it a more finished appearance. In addition, a strip about one inch wide has been repainted along the margin of the painting on all sides. Inpainting is also evident in two vertical strips along the former join lines, in the beard of the sitter to the left of his mouth where there is a rather large loss, and in small scattered patches on his forehead, cheeks, and hands. The signature and date appear to be original, though the signature has been reinforced.

[1] Presumably the painting was transferred after Duveen acquired it, when it was also cleaned and restored. In the catalogue of the 1927 Royal Academy exhibition, no. 231, and in earlier catalogues it is described as on panel.

Dogs are a common visual motif in Western art and have been called the “artist’s best friend” for their role as companion and life model. The close and accurate observation of animals is a hallmark of Renaissance (and Baroque) art in general, and as the most domesticated and favored of species, it is inevitable that dogs in particular would be well represented. Sketching from life was part of the Renaissance artist’s normal routine, and when artists began to look at the world around them, there was the dog—a ready and willing source of inspiration.

Throughout the Renaissance, dogs abound in art, most often appearing as incidental background motifs, part of a hunting scene, religious, mythological, or allegorical composition, or beside their masters in portraits. However, even a brief accounting of their role in the visual arts of the period involves issues that go well beyond the history of art, including court life, aristocratic tastes and fashion, pet ownership, the status of hunting among the royal and noble classes, developments in the classification of dog breeds and types, and changing views of the intelligence and mental abilities of dogs. For example, although working dogs were ubiquitous in the Renaissance—they turned cooking spits, pulled carts, herded sheep, baited wild animals, and competed in sporting events—their menial status mostly precluded their appearing as such in paintings of the period.

The first great observer of animals in the Renaissance, Pisanello, produced several sensitively observed studies of dogs, evidently drawn from nature, in a sketchbook in Paris. He used these studies for the Greyhounds, hound, and two small Spaniel-like dogs in the foreground of The Vision of Saint Eustace (fig. 2). Half a century later, Albrecht Dürer rendered dogs with the attention of a portraitist, in silverpoint and ink and wash, leaving us several preparatory drawings of individual animals taken directly from life that exemplify the Renaissance artist’s intensifying quest for accuracy and realism. The tense, nervous hunting dogs in the foreground of his largest engraving, The Vision of Saint Eustace, were realized so persuasively that they served as an important source for subsequent artists who reused them for their own compositions.

Not all depictions of dogs in the Renaissance were lifelike or the result of firsthand observation, however, because many artists viewed animals as merely a vehicle for conveying a bewildering variety of complex and often contradictory symbols. Just as often as dogs were shown in Italian paintings as the companion of the young Tobias, protecting the youth as he wandered far and wide in search of the fish that would cure the blindness of his father, Tobit, they also carried the ancient burden of pariah, or scavenger, dogs, associated in the Old Testament with evil and unclean things, and in the New Testament with Christ’s persecutors. The dog was the faithful attribute of Saints Dominic, Margaret of Cortona, and Roch, as well as of the hunters Diana, Adonis and Cephalus, but it was also a symbol of sexuality and promiscuity. Yet church fathers, scholars, poets, and humanists were symbolized and accompanied by dogs. In Dürer’s engraving of Saint Jerome in His Study (1514 Bartsch 60), the saint works on his letters or translations, while his dog sleeps quietly nearby, a vivid symbol of the contemplative life.


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As early as the second half of the 15th century, dogs began to take on an independent existence in art. Their status as objects of favor and prestige among the European ruling families and their owners’ desire for conspicuous display, particularly among the Italian ducal families in Mantua, Ferrara and Florence, resulted in a demand for portraits of individual dogs. In an undated account sent to Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan, by Zanetto Bugato, one of the items to be paid for was “a portrait of the dog called Bareta.” Francesco Bonsignori is said to have painted for Francesco Gonzaga, 4th Marquis of Mantua, a dog whose likeness was so convincing that one of his own dogs was said to have attacked the painting.

Although dog portraiture per se did not become a widespread practice until the early 18th century, it is clear that Renaissance patrons did not consider their dogs as frivolous or inconsequential elements of their own portraits. Dogs, even today, are natural adjuncts of portraits, appearing as fashion accessories or indications of a sitter’s tastes and interests. Even in the early Renaissance they appear to have been painted from life—surely the little Griffon terrier in Jan van Eyck’s Giovanni Arnolfini and His Wife (fig. 4) is a family pet and stares boldly at the beholder, irrespective of his role as a traditional attribute of marital fidelity.

A notable example of a vivid and lifelike dog appearing alongside its owner in Italian painting is the pair of elegant Greyhounds accompanying Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta Kneeling before Saint Sigismondo in Piero della Francesca’s fresco in the Tempio Malatestiano, Rimini. Although bred principally for hunting, Greyhounds were often kept as court pets in great luxury this pair was a gift from Pier Francesco di Lorenzo de’ Medici. The white Greyhound, lying with outstretched paws, waiting patiently on its master, is especially well rendered. Although these noble dogs have been widely interpreted as symbolic of some virtue like fidelity, they are equally convincing examples of the high value placed upon hunting dogs in the Renaissance and were probably more greatly appreciated by contemporary observers for Piero’s detailed naturalism. Fifteenth-century letters survive in which Italian princes express interest in obtaining fine hunting dogs or giving them as presents. Such dogs often wore costly collars—the dog collars of the Ferrarese court were made by the court goldsmith—and the 1468 inventory of Sigismondo’s possessions shows that he owned a number of elaborate dog collars studded with silver.

The affection that Ludovico II Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua, had for his dog, Rubino, is confirmed not only through his letters and, following the animal’s death, the erection of a tombstone complete with a sentimental Latin epitaph, but also by the inclusion of the creature itself—a russet-coated Bloodhound-like dog—beneath his chair in Andrea Mantegna’s celebrated fresco depicting Ludovico, his family, and court (1465–1474 Camera degli Sposi, Palazzo Ducale, Mantua). The adjacent fresco, which depicts two huge Mastiffs and other hunting dogs, further attests to the passion for dogs at the Gonzaga court. Another notable representation of a dog in monumental wall painting in the Renaissance is the feathered Saluki with a studded collar in the foreground of Pinturicchio’s Departure of Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini for Basel (c. 1503–1507 Cathedral Library, Siena). In this fresco, the animal appears almost as conspicuous as the figure of the future Pope Pius II.

In the 16th century, dogs adorned portraits in a variety of ways intended to reflect the character, strength, and nobility of their owners. Lucas Cranach’s imposing pair of full-length portraits of Henry the Pious, Duke of Saxony, and his wife, Catherine of Mecklenburg (1514 Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Gemäldegalerie, Dresden), illustrates the distinctions often made between dogs in royal portraiture: lapdogs represented as exclusively female companions, large hounds depicted as attributes of male virility. The size and prominence of the dog in Antonio Mor’s Cardinal Granvelle’s Dwarf and Dog (c. 1550 Musée du Louvre, Paris)—depicted with such vividness that he can only have been a living dog—suggests that the portrait of the animal interested the patron as much as that of the ornately dressed court dwarf. Increasingly during the 16th-century, dogs appear in portraits not as symbols, or objects of status or ownership, but merely because their masters considered them beloved companions. The Bolognese painter Bartolomeo Passarotti, who included dogs frequently in his late works, summarized explicitly the era’s tender feelings toward dogs in Portrait of a Man with a Dog (c. 1585 Pinacoteca Capitolina, Rome), remarkable for the obvious display of affection between the pair.

Italian painters of the 16th century produced a succession of memorable canines that suggests how familiar and admired dogs had become during this period. For Kenneth Clark, the wordless sorrow of Piero di Cosimo’s grieving dog in A Satyr Mourning over a Nymph (fig. 1), “the best-loved dog of the Renaissance,’’ marked the beginning of a long tradition in Western art of investing animals with human characteristics. Other notable depictions of dogs include the beautifully painted hounds in Parmigianino’s frescoes of Diana and Actaeon (c. 1523–1524 Camerino, Rocca Sanvitale, Fontanellato) Jacopo da Pontormo’s dog, drawn from life with its back arched, stretching itself in the lunette fresco depicting Vertumnus and Pomona (1520–1521 Gran Salone, Villa Medici, Poggio a Caiano) Dosso Dossi’s white dog in the foreground of Circe and Her Lovers in a Landscape (c. 1511–1512 National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.) and Federico Barocci’s brown-and-white puppy appealing to the spectator at the extreme lower right of the Madonna del Popolo (1575–1579 Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence).

It is in the work of the Venetian painters Carpaccio, Titian, Bassano, and Veronese, however, that canine imagery flourished in a sustained fashion. One of the first Renaissance painters to employ scenes of everyday life in his work, Vittore Carpaccio gave particular prominence to dogs in two vastly different contexts: as a symbol of carnality or animal appetite at the feet of a seated courtesan (c. 1495 Museo Correr, Venice), and as a symbol of the attributes of a scholar in the form of a fluffy white Bichon in Saint Augustine’s study (c. 1502 Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni, Venice).

With his preference for naturalistic form, Titian played an especially significant role in the promotion of the dog in the visual arts. In the portrait Federico II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, the gesture of the white Maltese-type dog pawing his master is especially appropriate, as the duke’s love for his dogs was well known in the spring of 1525 he owned no fewer than 111 dogs. The keenly observed dogs in Titian’s portraits appear as solid and real, as convincing and touching, as the human sitters—for example, Charles V Standing with His Dog (1533 Museo del Prado, Madrid) Eleonora Gonzaga della Rovere, Duchess of Urbino (c. 1537, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence) Captain with a Cupid and a Dog (c. 1550–1552, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Gemäldegalerie, Kassel) and Clarice Strozzi (1562 Staatliche Museen, Gemäldegalerie, Berlin), in which the lifelike depiction of the small red-and-white Spaniel was singled out by Pietro Aretino in a letter to the artist.

The toy dogs employed in Titian’s Venus of Urbino (1538 Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence) and in his paintings devoted to the theme of Venus with an organist or lute player (c. 1548–1549 Gemäldegalerie, Berlin), as well as in his second version of Danaë (1553–1554 Museo del Prado, Madrid), have been interpreted as symbols of female seductiveness. His hunting scenes with Venus and Adonis (1553–1554 Museo del Prado, Madrid) naturally feature realistic portrayals of dogs, and they appear conspicuously in the foreground of the late Flaying of Marsyas (c. 1575 Archiepiscopal Palace, Kremsier). If Titian ever produced a painting with a dog as its principal subject, it has not survived the near-exception is the engimatic Boy with Dogs, which has been recently interpreted as an allegory of the complementary operations of nature and art: The contrast between the nursing mother’s relationship to her pups and the boy’s to his adult dog expresses the idea that nature brings forth, while art (or culture) trains and nurtures.

Jacopo Bassano seems to have been naturally drawn to animals as his subjects, and he depicted a variety of dogs of different breeds in his historical, religious, and genre subjects over a period of 40 years, beginning with the Adoration of the Magi (c. 1539 Burghley, Stamford, Lincolnshire), which includes a small Spaniel at the Virgin’s feet. He lent a naturalistic note to his compositions with motifs such as the dogs that sniff at the sores on Lazarus’s legs in the foreground of Lazarus and the Rich Man (c. 1554 Cleveland Museum of Art) and lick the blood of the wounded man in The Good Samaritan (fig. 3). Around the middle of the 16th century, Bassano produced a painting of two hunting dogs that survives to mark the beginning of a tradition of commissioned “portraits,” or at least likenesses, of actual dogs that reflects a new interest in and psychological understanding of animals. This unusual work was commissioned in 1548 by Antonio Zentani, a patrician Venetian art collector who apparently wanted a painting of only these two dogs, suggesting to some that these animals were prized hunters from his own kennel and that their depiction was not expected to convey any symbolic or hidden meaning.

Noting Bassano’s dedication to capturing the natural look of dogs, the art historian Roger Rearick emphasized his extraordinary excerption of “two perfectly straightforward canines from their familiar context” and the dedication of a painting to them and them alone. More recently, however, it has been suggested, on the basis of the patron’s spiritual inclinations, that the dogs tethered to a stump, in fact, convey “a severe, almost cheerless message” and represent a complex allegory of the combat between earthly and spiritual life. Irrespective of the symbolic connotations or moralizing intentions of Bassano’s composition, the animals are beautifully realized and remarkable for their truthful representation. The pose of the dog on the left appears to have caught the attention of Tintoretto, who inserted it nearly exactly into his painting Christ Washing the Disciples’ Feet for the church of San Marcuola, Venice (c. 1548–49 Museo del Prado, Madrid). By the beginning of the 17th century, Two Hunting Dogs was thought to be a work by Veronese and thereafter it passed as a painting by Titian through a number of celebrated collections, including those of Cardinal Silvio Valenti Gonzaga, William Beckford, and the Duke of Bedford it was not until the middle of the 20th century that its proper authorship was restored. The naturalistic tenor of Bassano’s art was given further expression in a similar painting of two dogs by themselves that he made shortly thereafter, Two Hunting Dogs (c. 1555 Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence), and, two decades later, in A Greyhound (c. 1571 private collection, Turin).

Paolo Veronese, who has been called the “greatest dog-lover in Italian art,” included dozens of dogs, from Greyhounds to Spaniels, in his religious scenes, mythological and allegorical works, and portraits. Dogs abound in particular in his large paintings of biblical feasts executed for the refectories of monasteries in Venice and Verona. The Feast in the House of Simon the Pharisee (c. 1560 Galleria Sabauda, Turin), painted for the refectory of Saints Nazaro and Celso in Verona, Veronese’s earliest extant supper scene, contains two dogs under the table that have elicited the admiration of observers from Giorgio Vasari (“so beautiful that they appear real and alive”) to John Ruskin (“The essence of dog is there, the entire, magnificent, generic animal type, muscular and living”). In two versions of the Supper at Emmaus (c. 1560 Musée du Louvre, Paris, and Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden), he seems to have taken special pleasure in showing children and dogs playing together. And in the vast Marriage at Cana for the refectory of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice, the most ambitious of Veronese’s banquet scenes, a pair of magnificent white hounds immediately draws the spectator’s attention to the center of the composition.

In the interior of the Villa Barbaro at Maser, where Veronese executed a rich and iconographically complex decorative fresco program about 1561, one of the rooms is traditionally called the Stanza del Cane, after a beautifully rendered little dog occupying a ledge high above the visitor. Veronese’s dogs are painted with such loving attention that they must reflect his own feeling toward animals—a feeling that perhaps is mirrored in the motif of Diana nuzzling one of her Greyhounds in the clouds of the Sala di Olimpo. The abundance and variety of dogs in Veronese’s art make it difficult to attribute specific symbolism to them—they are too numerous and appear in too many diverse settings. Veronese is said to have produced formal “portraits” of individual dogs, including his own, but his only extant painting in which dogs vie with the human figure for prominence is Cupid with Two Dogs (c. 1580–83 Alte Pinakothek, Munich). This painting shows a winged Cupid wearing a golden quiver and holding two black-and-white hunting dogs on a chain, a composition that has been interpreted variously as an allegory of the contrariness of love, faithfulness in love, and the restraint of the animal appetite for love.

This essay is adapted from "An Artist's Best Friend: The Dog in Renaissance and Baroque Painting and Sculpture," by Edgar Peters Bowron in Best in Show: The Dog in Art from the Renaissance to Today (Yale University Press in association with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Bruce Museum of Art and Science) used with permission.


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Emperor Charles V at Mühlberg

This portrait commemorates Charles V’s victory over the Schmalkaldic League at Mühlberg on 24 April 1547. The Emperor is equipped in the manner of the light cavalry with a half pike and wheel-lock pistol. His suit of armour was made around 1545 by Desiderius Helmschmid and has an image of the Virgin and Child on the breastplate, as was customary with Charles’ armour from 1531. Panofsky pointed to the combination of two non-exclusive concepts to be found in this image, which depicts Charles as the heir to the Roman tradition and also as the incarnation of the miles christianus, as he was described by Erasmus in the Enchiridion (1503). The significance of the lance connects with both interpretations, referring to both Longinus and Saint George (the Christian knight par excellence) but also functioning as a symbol of the supreme power of the Roman emperors. However, the circumstances and period at which the portrait was painted mean that the religious connotations of this work are not as significant as the political ones. Imperial propaganda presented the campaign against the Schmalkaldic League as a political rather than a religious conflict, intended to punish those who had risen up against their legitimate ruler. In fact, leading Lutheran nobles such as Maurice of Saxony supported Charles, whose army was primarily made up of Protestants. In addition, while Titian was painting the portrait in Augsburg, Charles was giving his support to the Interim, which concluded on 12 March 1548, in a last attempt to bring Catholics and Protestants together. In such a context the Court did not wish to project an image of Charles as the champion of Catholicism or the arrogant victor over his own subjects, but rather as an emperor capable of ruling over a heterogeneous group of states and religions. Hence the lack of any references in the painting to the battle and the rejection of the ideas proposed by Pietro Aretino, who suggested that Titian depict the defeated trampled under the hoofs of the horse. We should also bear in mind that the portrait was owned by Mary of Hungary, in whose posthumous inventory of 1558 the painting is described in political rather than religious terms, stating that Charles is shown in the manner in which he went against the rebels.

The Emperor Charles V at Mühlberg lacks precedents in Italian art and scholars have thus generally made reference to classical and Renaissance sculpture, such as Marcus Aurelius on Horseback and Verrocchio’s Colleoni, as well as to German art, particularly Dürer’s Knight, Death and Devil of 1513-4. Above all it has been associated with Hans Burgkmair the Elder, who in 1508 produced a woodcut of Maximilian I on Horseback, and in 1509-10 a Project for an Equestrian Sculpture of Maximilian I (Vienna, Graphische Sammlung Albertina). The reference to Maximilian is particularly apt as it points to a tradition of equestrian portraits of the head of the Holy Roman Empire with which Charles V had previously been associated at Mühlberg. Images of Charles of this type included the reliefs of 1522 by Hans Daucher and the coloured engravings produced by Hans Liefrinck the Elder in Antwerp in 1542-4. It can be assumed that Charles must have intentionally sought out these affinities. Immediately after the battle of Mühlberg he commissioned an equestrian sculpture from Leone Leoni which, although ultimately unexecuted, recalls the project for the sculpture of Maximilian referred to above and which, along with the present work by Titian, was intended to reinforce the image of Charles as Emperor in a way appropriate to the particular political situation of Germany in 1547-8. Titian translated into painting and monumentalised these formal and ideological precedents, which were easily identifiable by anyone looking at this painting in Augsburg, the same city in which Burgkmair had worked for Maximilian some decades before, in close collaboration with the Helmschmid family, the imperial armourers. Despite its seminal nature, this truly exceptional work did not find immediate echoes in art, and the equestrian portrait had to wait until the early decades of the 17th century and the hand of Rubens before it came to occupy a place of honour in court art.

Italian High Renaissance Period (c.1490-1530)

• High Renaissance Painting
Characteristics and famous painters.
• Renaissance Art in Florence
Masaccio, Donatello, Brunelleschi, Leonardo, Michelangelo and others.
• Renaissance Art in Rome
Raphael, Michelangelo and others.
• Renaissance Art in Venice
Mantegna, Giorgione, Titian, Veronese, Bellini, Tintoretto and others.
• Best Renaissance Drawings
Sketches in chalks, metalpoint, charcoal, pen and ink.
• Greatest Renaissance Paintings
The most important works of fresco, tempera and oils.
• Northern Renaissance (1430-1580)
Jan Van Eyck, Roger van der Weyden, Memling, Bosch, Albrecht Durer.

NOTE: For the ongoing influence of High Renaissance classicism on 20th century art, see: Classical Revival in modern art (c.1900-30).

Note: the term "Renaissance", used to describe the new forms of architecture, painting and sculpture which appeared in Italy, during the period 1400-1530, was first coined by the French historian Jules Michelet (1798-1874.)

For the chronology and dates
of key events in the evolution
of visual arts around the world
see: History of Art Timeline.

For information about building
design during the Renaissance,
see: Renaissance Architecture.

For a brief survey of the tradition
of drawing from the nude, see:
Female Nudes in Art History (Top 20)
Male Nudes in Art History (Top 10).

For details of the colour pigments
used by High Renaissance painters
see: Renaissance Colour Palette.

For biographies and paintings
of the greatest artists in Europe
see: Old Masters: Top 100.

What is the High Renaissance? - Characteristics

The period known as the High Renaissance roughly spans the four decades from 1490 to the sack of Rome in 1527. It represents the accepted apogee of Renaissance art - the period when the ideals of classical humanism were fully implemented in both painting and sculpture, and when painterly techniques of linear perspective, shading and other methods of realism were mastered. While the preceding Early Renaissance had been centred on Florence and largely paid for by the Medici family, the High Renaissance was centred on Rome and paid for by the Popes. Indeed, it very nearly bankrupted the city.

The key High Renaissance artists in Rome included Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) master of oil painting and sfumato Michelangelo (1475-1564), the greatest sculptor and fresco painter of the day Raphael (1483-1520), the finest painter of the High Renaissance Correggio (1489-1534), the Parma painter, famous for his illusionistic Assumption of the Virgin (Parma Cathedral) (1526-30) and Donato Bramante (1444-1514), the leading architect of the High Renaissance. Provincial painters included Luca Signorelli (1450-1523), whose Sistine Chapel murals and Orvieto Cathedral frescoes are believed to have been an important influence on Michelangelo.

High Renaissance Works of Art

Masterpieces of High Renaissance painting include: Michelangelo's Genesis Sistine Chapel frescoes Leonardo's Virgin of the Rocks (1484-6, Louvre, Paris), Lady with an Ermine (1490) Czartoryski Museum, Krakow, Last Supper (1495-8, Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan) and Mona Lisa (1503-5, Louvre) Raphael's Sistine Madonna (1513), Transfiguration (1518-20), Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione (1514-15) and School of Athens (1509-11), in the Raphael Rooms in the Vatican and Titian's Assumption of the Virgin (1518, S. Maria Gloriosa dei Frari).

Highlights of High Renaissance sculpture include: Pieta (1500, St Peter's, Rome) and David by Michelangelo (1501-4, originally located in the Piazza della Signoria, Florence, now in the city's Academy of Arts).

The High Renaissance unfolded against a back-drop of mounting religious and political tension, which affected painters and sculptors, as well as patrons of the arts throughout Italy. After the sack of Rome in 1527, it was superceded by the more artificial and dramatic style of Mannerism.

Political Developments During the High Renaissance

Christopher Columbus's discovery of the Americas in 1492, together with Magellan's first circumnavigation of the world in 1522, trashed the prevailing dogma of a flat earth in 1512 Copernicus placed the sun (not the earth) at the centre of the visible universe. These discoveries rocked the foundations of theology along with many assumptions about human life.

In 1494, Charles VIII of France invaded Italy, causing upheaval throughout the country. In the same year, political rivalry in Florence led to the rise and fall of the fanatical cleric Girolamo Savonarola (1494-8), which severely shook Florentine art in the process. (During this time it is said that Botticelli actually pledged to renounce art.)

In 1517, Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses in Wittenberg, triggering the Reformation and plunging much of Europe into chaos. This led to a number of military conflicts between Charles V (ruler of Spain, Austria, the Low Countries and southern Italy), Francis I of France, Henry VIII in England and the Popes in Rome. The era ended with the sacking of Rome in 1527.

With such uncertainty at large, it seems incredible that the High Renaissance could have occurred at all. Yet it did. Indeed, the years between 1490 and the sack of Rome in 1527 saw a huge outpouring in Italy of all the visual arts. This golden age - perhaps the most creative era in the history of art - set the standards in both fine art painting and sculpture for centuries to come.

Rome: The Centre of the High Renaissance

Rome now superceded Florence as the focal point of the Early Renaissance, not least because of papal ambition to make Rome even greater than its Florentine rival. The exorbitant patronage of Pope Julius II (1503-13) and Pope Leo X (1513-21) secured and retained the services of painters like Raphael, Leonardo and Michelangelo, all of whom created oils and mural painting of startling novelty, plus architects like Donato Bramante, a key figure in the redevelopment of St Peter's Basilica. Driven by Popes who wished to use art to reinforce the glory of Rome, the High Renaissance marked the zenith of the return to classical humanist values based on ancient Greek art and culture. As the Church was the major patron, Christian art remained the major genre.

For the leaders of the Florentine High Renaissance once Leonardo and Michelangelo had departed: see Fra Bartolommeo (1472-1517), leader 1508-12 replaced by Andrea del Sarto (1486-1530).

Meanwhile in Venice. Giovanni Bellini (1430-1516) was busy developing a separate school of Venetian painting, based on the primacy of colorito over disegno. His pupils included the short-lived enigmatic Giorgione (1477-1510), Sebastiano del Piombo (1485-1547) and Titian (c.1477-1576), arguably the leading colourist of the Italian Renaissance, as well as provincial masters like Lorenzo Lotto (1480-1556). See, in particular, Giorgione's Tempest (1508, Venice Academy Gallery) and Sleeping Venus (1510, Gemaldegalerie, Dresden) For information about portraiture, see: Venetian Portrait Painting (c.1400-1600).

Elsewhere in Italy, High Renaissance values also influenced provincial centres like the Parma School of painting and the later Bolognese School (1580s on).

Note: Much pioneering work on the attribution of paintings during the Italian Renaissance, was done by the art scholar Bernard Berenson (1865-1959), who lived most of his life near Florence, and published a number of highly influential works on the Italian Renaissance.

High Renaissance Aesthetics

Ever since Giotto abandoned medieval hieratic art in favour of depicting nature, his successors from the quattrocento managed to find more and more ways to improve their portrayal of the real world. Techniques involving linear perspective and vanishing points, foreshortening, illusionistic devices, chiaroscuro and sfumato shading - all these methods were mastered during the High Renaissance. During the cinquecento, the near universal adoption of oil painting eliminated the matt colours of the 15th century, and made it possible for distance to be conveyed solely through the gradation of tones - a process known as aerial or atmospheric perspective.

Even so, despite the growing realism being achieved in their art, High Renaissance artists aspired to beauty, and harmony more than realism. Their paintings may have been based on nature but they had no interest in mere replication. Instead they looked for ultimate truth in a study of the classical world of Greek and Roman culture. It was this that provided artists with an ideal of perfection: their aesthetics. Thus, Greek philosophy provided the secret of the perfect human type with its proportions, muscular structure, oval face, triangular forehead, straight nose, and balance - with the weight on one hip - all of which can be seen in the paintings of Raphael, and the immensely expressive sculpture of Michelangelo. The latter in particular was never afraid to bend the realistic rules of anatomy and proportion, in order to increase his power of expression.

It was through Classical Greek philosophy that Renaissance theorists and artists developed their idea of 'Humanism'. Humanism was a way of thinking which attached more importance to Man and less importance to God. It imbued Renaissance art with its unique flavour, as exemplified in works like Leonardo's Mona Lisa (a non-religious painting), Michelangelo's David - a more human than religious statue - and Raphael's cool secular fresco School of Athens. Even when High Renaissance artists painted religious paintings, or sculpted a religious scene, very often they were not glorifying God but Man. They were exalting the ideals of classical aesthetics. Paradoxically, a few mythological works - such as Jupiter and Io (1533) by Correggio - do the opposite: they don't glorify men but Gods!

Note: In the eyes of at least one European Renaissance expert - Jacob Burckhardt (1818-97), Professor of Art History at Basel University and author of "The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy" (Die Kultur der Renaissance in Italien), published in 1860, the first fifty years of the 16th century represented the Golden Era of Renaissance art.

For details of European collections of quattrocento and cinquecento Italian painting, see: Art Museums in Europe.

High Renaissance Architecture

The rediscovery of Greek architecture and later Roman architecture, and its rejuvenation by Italian Renaissance architects such as Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446), Leon Battista Alberti (1404-72), Guiliano da Sangallo (1443-1516), Donato Bramante (1444-1514), Raphael (1483-1520), Michelangelo (1475-1564), Baldessare Peruzzi (1481-1536), Michele Sanmicheli (1484-1559), Jacopo Sansovino (1486-1570), Giulio Romano (1499-1546), Andrea Palladio (1508-80), and Vincenzo Scamozzi (1548-1616), led to the reintroduction of classical values in nearly all building designs of the time. Greek Orders of architecture were discovered, along with ideal building proportions, while Doric and Corinthian columns were incorporated into a variety of religious and secular structures. Renaissance domes began to appear, crowning the tops of churches and palaces.

High Renaissance architecture is best exemplified by the works of Donato Bramante, notably the initial design for the dome of the new St Peter's Basilica in Rome, as well as the Tempietto (1502) at S. Pietro in Montorio, a centralized dome that recalls Greek temple architecture. He was also closely involved with Pope Julius II in planning the replacement of the 4th century Old St Peter's with a new basilica of gigantic size.

Part of the enduring legacy of Italian Renaissance art is the Beaux-Arts style of architecture. A lavish mix of Renaissance and Baroque styles, Beaux-Arts designs emerged during the 19th century, and were championed by graduates of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, in Paris. In America, the style was introduced by Richard Morris Hunt (1827-95) and Cass Gilbert (1859-1934).

The Trial and Execution of Charles I

Charles I was the first of our monarchs to be put on trial for treason and it led to his execution. This event is one of the most famous in Stuart England’s history – and one of the most controversial. No law could be found in all England’s history that dealt with the trial of a monarch so the order setting up the court that was to try Charles was written by a Dutch lawyer called Issac Dorislaus and he based his work on an ancient Roman law which stated that a military body (in this case the government) could legally overthrow a tyrant. The execution of Charles, led to an eleven year gap in the rule of the Stuarts (1649 to 1660) and it witnessed the rise to supreme power of Oliver Cromwell – whose signature can be clearly seen on the death warrant of Charles.

Charles was put on trial in London on January 1st 1649. He was accused of being a

He was to be tried by 135 judges who would decide if he was guilty or not. In fact only 68 turned up for the trial. Those that did not were less than happy about being associated with the trial of the king. In fact, there were plenty of MPs in Parliament who did not want to see the king put on trial but in December 1648, these MPs had been stopped from going into Parliament by a Colonel Pride who was helped by some soldiers. The only people allowed into Parliament were those who Cromwell thought supported the trial of the king. This Parliament was known as the “Rump Parliament” and of the 46 men allowed in (who were considered to be supporters of Cromwell), only 26 voted to try the king. Therefore even among those MPs considered loyal to Cromwell, there was no clear support to try Charles.

The Chief Judge was a man called John Bradshaw. He sat as head of the High Court of Justice. He was not one of the original 135 judges but none of the 68 that did turn up wanted to be Chief Judge and the job was given to Bradshaw, who was a lawyer. He knew that putting Charles on trial was not popular and he actually feared for his own life. He had made for himself a special hat which had metal inside it to protect his head against an attack. It was Bradshaw who read out the charge against Charles that he

“out of a wicked design to erect and uphold in himself an unlimited and tyrannical power to rule according to his will, and to overthrow the rights and liberties of the people of England. “

The hall where the king was tried was packed with soldiers – to protect the judges or to make sure that the king did not escape? The public was not allowed into the hall until after the charge had been read out. Why would the government do this if their case against Charles was good?

At the trial, Charles refused to defend himself. He did not recognise the legality of the court. He also refused to take off his hat as a sign of respect to the judges who did attend. This seemed to confirm in the minds of the judges that Charles, even when he was on trial for his life, remained arrogant and therefore a danger to others as he could not recognise his own faults.

Bradshaw announced the judgment of the court : that

“he, the said Charles Stuart, as a tyrant, traitor, murderer and public enemy to the good of this nation, shall be put to death by severing of his head from his body.”

When the judgment of the court was announced, Charles finally started to defend himself. He was told that his chance had gone and the king of England was bundled out of the court by the guarding soldiers.

His date of execution was set for January 30th1649.

The execution of Charles I

Charles was executed on a Tuesday. It was a cold day. Charles was allowed to go for a last walk in St James’s park with his pet dog. His last meal was bread and wine. However, there was a delay in his execution.

The man who was to execute Charles refused to do it. So did others. Very quickly, another man and his assistant was found. They were paid £100 and were allowed to wear masks so that no-one would ever know who they were.

At nearly 2.00 o’clock in the afternoon, Charles was led to the scaffold which was covered in black cloth. He had asked to wear thick underclothes under his shirt as he was very concerned that if he shivered in the cold, the crowd might think that he was scared. Charles gave a last speech to the crowd but very few could hear him. He said:

“I have delivered to my conscience I pray God you do take those courses that are best for the good of the kingdom and your own salvation.”

It is said that when he was beheaded a large groan went up throughout the crowd. One observer in the crowd described it as “such a groan by the thousands then present, as I never heard before and I desire I may never hear again.”

Even in death, Charles found no dignity. Spectators were allowed to go up to the scaffold and, after paying, dip handkerchiefs in his blood as it was felt that the blood of a king when wiped onto a wound, illness etc. would cure that illness.

On the 6th February, 1649, the monarchy was abolished. Parliament stated that

“the office of the king in this nation is unnecessary, burdensome and dangerous to the liberty, society and public interest of the people.”

What became known as a Council of State was set-up instead of the monarchy and Oliver Cromwell was its first chairman.

When Charles II returned to become king of England in 1660, those men who had signed his father’s death warrant (and were still alive) were tried as regicides (the murderer of a king) and executed. Anyone associated with the execution of Charles was put on trial. The only people to escape were the executioners as no-one knew who they were as they wore masks during the execution.


Referred to as the Queen of Monsters, Mothra is one of the first Titans seen in the film, depicted hatching from an egg at a Monarch facility housed within an ancient Chinese temple. Initially seen as a massive larva, Mothra escapes when the facility is attacked, and cocoons herself beneath a waterfall, where she eventually metamorphoses into her classic, winged form. Arriving to help Godzilla during the climactic battle in Boston, Mothra fights King Ghidorah's ally Rodan, and severely wounds the fiery beast before sacrificing herself to empower Godzilla with her life energy.

Introduced in 1961 in the eponymous Japanese film, Mothra was one of the first kaiju to battle Godzilla, in 1964's aptly titled Mothra vs. Godzilla, before making her return as an ally. Often commanded by a pair of fairy twins, Mothra is able to dust opponents with mysterious energy that coats her wings, or trap them in a sticky, stringy fluid she can spit. Mothra's unusual history is reflected in King of the Monsters by Zhang Ziyi's characters, Dr. Ilene Chen and her twin sister Dr. Ling Chen studying the Titan, like their mother and grandmother before them, dating to 1961 -- a reference to that original film. It's revealed during the end credits that Monarch has discovered another Mothra egg, hinting at the monster's return.

What you need to know

We've made some changes to help keep you safe, and things might be a little different when you visit. We may need to continue making changes as we follow continually evolving Government advice, so we recommend checking this information before your visit. Here's everything you need to know.

Advance booking is now essential. We have introduced limits on visitor numbers to help keep everyone safe, and you won&rsquot be able to visit without your booking confirmation. If you&rsquore a Member, your ticket will be free, but you still need to book in advance. Make sure you've read our ticketing FAQ before you book.

House - The House will be open as usual with a one-way system in place.

Shop - The shop will be open with a one-way system in place.

Toilets - Our toilets are open as usual with additional hand sanitising stations available on site.

We've made a number of changes to help keep you safe. Although things might be a little different when you visit, you&rsquoll still be able to enjoy exploring the places where history really happened. And you&rsquoll still be given a warm and safe welcome by our friendly &ndash if socially distant &ndash staff and volunteers.

You can visit our reopening page for information on general safety measures we've taken to help keep you safe.

Face coverings must be worn in all indoor areas. We won't be able to provide you with a face covering, so please come prepared so you don't miss out.

The answers to all frequently asked questions can be found on our FAQ page.

The Purebred Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Daphne the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel at 3 years old&mdash "She has the Blenheim spot on the top of her head. Her favorite things to do are kiss, cuddle and go on runs with our other dog Raven, an Australian Shepherd." A Blenheim spot is a spot in the middle of the crown of the head. It is also sometimes called "the kiss of Buddha" or "Kissing Spot."

Other Names

kav-uh-leer king chahrlz span-yuh l


The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a well-proportioned little dog. The head is slightly rounded, the muzzle full, tapering a little with a shallow stop. The nose is black. The teeth meet in a scissors bite. The dark brown eyes are round and set well apart with dark eye rims. The long ears are set high with abundant feathering. The topline is level. The tail is sometimes docked by 1/3, but is usually left natural. Dewclaws may be removed. The silky coat is medium in length with feathering on the ears, chest, legs and the tail. Colors include tricolor, black and tan, blenheim (red and white) and ruby (rich mahogany red).


The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is an eager, affectionate and happy dog, always seeming to be wagging its tail. Outgoing and sportive, these fearless lively little dogs are eager and willing to please. They are intelligent enough to understand what you want and therefore are usually easy to train and respond well to gentle obedience training. They are said to be naturally well behaved and get along well with other dogs and non-canine pets. Cavaliers love people, enjoy companionship, and need rules to follow and limits to what they are allowed to do. They are not suited to kennel life and should not be left alone all day. If you do need to leave them, be sure to take them for a pack walk before you leave to put them in a natural rest mode. Do to their hunting background they have an instinct to chase. Do not allow this sweet dog to develop Small Dog Syndrome, human-induced behaviors where the dog thinks he is pack leader to humans. This can cause a varying degree of behavior problems, which are not Cavalier traits, but are brought on by the way they are being treated. They are recommended with older considerate children, simply because most small dogs are treated in such a way they start to believe they rule the home. In addition to being the dog's leader, socialize well to avoid them being reserved with strangers. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a pleasant companion dog. They have remarkable eyesight and sense of smell and can be used in short hunts in open country. They do well in competitive obedience.

Height, Weight

Height: 12 - 13 inches (30 - 33 cm)

Weight: 10 - 18 pounds (5 - 8 kg)

Health Problems

Prone to syringomyelia, hereditary eye disease such as cherry eye, dislocating kneecaps (patella), back troubles, ear infections, early onset of deafness or hearing trouble. Sometimes hip dysplasia. Don't overfeed. This breed tends to gain weight easily. Also prone to mitral valve disease, a serious genetic heart problem, which can cause early death. It is wise to check the medical history of several previous generations before choosing your puppy.

Living Conditions

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are good for apartment life. They are moderately active indoors and a small yard will be sufficient. The Cavalier does not do well in very warm conditions.


Cavalier King Charles Spaniels need a daily walk. Play will take care of a lot of their exercise needs, however, as with all breeds, play will not fulfill their primal instinct to walk. Dogs that do not get to go on daily walks are more likely to display behavior problems. They will also enjoy a good romp in a safe open area off-lead, such as a large, fenced-in yard.

Life Expectancy
Litter Size

Comb or brush with a firm bristle brush, and bathe or dry shampoo as necessary. The hair between the pads on the feet needs to be trimmed. Prone to tangling and matting on the ears, and should be brushed often. Clean the inside of the ears regularly. Always make sure the dog is thoroughly dry and warm after a bath. Check the eyes carefully for any signs of infection. This breed is an average shedder.


Named for King Charles II, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is descended from the King Charles Spaniel. In the late 1600s the King Charles Spaniels were interbred with Pugs, which resulted in a smaller dog with flatter noses, upturned faces, rounded heads and protruding eyes. The consequence of this breeding is what we know today as the King Charles Spaniel (English Toy Spaniel).In the 1920s an American named Roswell Eldridge offered prize money during a Cruft's Dog Show in London to any person exhibiting King Charles Spaniels with long noses. He was looking for dogs similar to those appearing in Van Dyck's paintings of King Charles II and his spaniels, before the Pug was bred in. A dog called Ann's Son, owned by Miss Mostyn Walker, won the Eldridge prize, however Eldridge had died a month before the show opened and was not there to present the award. His ideas lived on in American breeders. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breed, as we know it today, is the product of the American breeders of the late 1920s, though this 'modern' breed is the true heir of the royal spaniels of King Charles II. By the 1940s these dogs were classified as a separate breed and were given the prefix Cavalier to differentiate them from their forebears. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was shown in the Toy Group of the AKC beginning in 1996.

  • ACA = American Canine Association Inc.
  • ACR = American Canine Registry
  • AKC = American Kennel Club
  • ANKC = Australian National Kennel Club
  • APRI = American Pet Registry, Inc.
  • CKC = Canadian Kennel Club
  • CKC = Continental Kennel Club
  • DRA = Dog Registry of America, Inc.
  • FCI = Fédération Cynologique Internationale
  • KCGB = Kennel Club of Great Britain
  • NAPR = North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
  • NKC = National Kennel Club
  • NZKC = New Zealand Kennel Club
  • UKC = United Kennel Club

Paris the tricolor Cavalier King Charles Spaniel at 2 years old&mdash"Paris is a very loving dog. No one is a stranger to her. She enjoys playing with children and running around the back yard. Her favorite sleeping toy is a lamb, which she received as a Christmas present."

Boz the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel at 7 months old&mdash"This is Boz carrying around his favorite toy when he was a puppy. Boz is now an adult and is such a great companion. Boz enjoys going for walks and going for car rides. But above all, his favorite thing to do is to meet humans! He isn't really fond of other dogs, except for the other 3 dogs we have. When Boz was a little over a year old, we got a Shih Tzu, Molly, because we noticed Boz wanted a friend to play with. He couldn't have been happier! Boz is a great cuddler and a very loyal companion."

Boz the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel at 7 months old&mdash"This is Boz carrying a treat in his mouth."

Jewel the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

This is Charlemagne and his litter of 7 brothers and sisters. Charlemagne is the first pup on the left.

Lucky the ruby Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy at 10 weeks old

Lucky the ruby Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy at 10 weeks old

Rusty the Blenheim Cavalier KC Spaniel and Kirby, a tricolored Cavalier KC Spaniel

Buddy the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel at 12 weeks old

See more examples of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Material contained herein may not be reproduced without the prior written approval of the author. Contents & Graphics Copyright © Dog Breed Info Center® (C) 1998-. All Rights Reserved. Our work is not Public Domain.

Watch the video: Cavalier King Charles spaniel puppy and big brother play tug of war (July 2022).


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