Home > Catalogue > Venezia Arti > 30 | 2021 > Titian and Callisto’s Double Metamorphosis

Titian and Callisto’s Double Metamorphosis

The punctum around which the Original Revolves

Alessandro Rossi    Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele, Milano, Italia    



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.

Dec. 21, 2021
Oct. 8, 2021
July 6, 2021

Keywords: Ovid’s MetamorphosesVisual semioticsDiana and CallistoTheory of artRubensPunctum/studiumCopy/originalDetailsDaniel ArasseTitian

Copyright: © 2021 Alessandro Rossi. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.