Titian and Callisto’s Double Metamorphosis
The punctum around which the Original Revolves
A careful examination of Diana and Callisto, painted by Titian (London, National Gallery and Edinburgh, National Galleries of Scotland), its copy by Rubens (Knowsley Hall, Earl of Derby) and the version by Titian’s workshop in Vienna (Kunsthistorisches Museum) reveals details hitherto unrecognised by scholars. Although marginal, these take on extraordinary iconographic and communicative value, and it is precisely through these details that Titian evokes the mutations of the nymph Callisto narrated by Ovid in the Metamorphoses (2.401-530). The way in which the details are depicted and coordinated within the composition allows the beholder to experience the ‘graduality of discovery’. This is useful not only for lending the fixed image a temporality similar to that of literary narration (consisting of a ‘before’ and an ‘after’) but above all to induce, within the process of visual-perceptual discovery and its subsequent iconographic comprehension, the sequence of ‘desire-surprise-reward’ theorised by Daniel Arasse with regard to the revelatory power of detail, here applied to the polarity punctum/studium.