The Venetian Renaissance painter Titian and his workshop produced many versions of Venus and Musician, which may be known by various other titles specifying the elements, such as Venus with an Organist, Venus with a Lute-player, and so on. Most versions have a man playing a small organ on the left, but in others a lute is being played. Venus has a small companion on her pillows, sometimes a Cupid and in other versions a dog, or in Berlin both. The paintings are thought to date from the late 1540s onwards.
Many of Titian's paintings exist in several versions, especially his nude mythological subjects. Later versions tend to be mostly or entirely by his workshop, with the degree of Titian's personal contribution uncertain and the subject of differing views. All the versions of the Venus and Musician are in oil on canvas, and fall into two proportions and sizes, with two of the organist versions wider.
The five versions generally regarded as at least largely by Titian are, with an organist, the two in Madrid and one in Berlin, and with a lutenist those in Cambridge and New York. Another version in the Uffizi in Florence is less highly regarded, and has no musician, but a Cupid, as well as a black and white dog at the foot of the bed, eyeing a partridge on the parapet.
In all the versions Venus' bed appears to be set in a loggia or against a large open window with a low stone wall or parapet. Venus is shown at full-length, reclining on pillows. The musician sits on the end of the bed with his back to her, but is turned round to look towards her. By contrast she looks away to the right. He wears contemporary 16th-century dress, as do any small figures in the landscape backgrounds, and has a sword or dagger at his belt. A large red drape takes up the top left corner, and the top right corner in the less wide versions. There is a wide landscape outside, falling into two types. The two Prado versions show avenues of trees and a fountain in what seems to be the gardens of a palace. The other versions have a more open landscape, leading to distant mountains.
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