Urban guided tour -Whitehall and Westminster

Urban guided tour
-Whitehall and WestminsterDuration: 15:30-18:00
Itinerary: Green Park, Buckingham Palace, Queen Victoria Memorial, St. James'
Park, Queen's Horseguards, Downing Street, Big Ben, Houses Of Parliament,
Westminster Abbey.
-Green Park-
Green Park covers 19 hectares between Hyde Park and St. James's Park. Together
with Kengsington Gardens and the gardens of Buckingham Palace, these parks form
an almost unbroken stretch of open land reaching from Whitehall and Victoria Station
to Kengsington and Notting Hill. In contrast with its neighbouring parks, Green Park
has no lakes, no buildings, and few monuments.
The park is said to have originally been swampy burial ground for lepers from the
nearby hospital at St James's. It was first enclosed in 16th century when it formed
part of the estate of Poulteney family. In 1668, an area of the Poulteney estate known
as Sandpit Field was surrendered to Charles II, who made the bulk of the land into a
Royal Park as "Upper St James's Park" and enclosed it with a brick wall.[3] He laid
out the park's main walks and built an icehouse there to supply him with ice for
cooling drinks in summer.
The Queen's Walk was laid out for George II's queen Caroline; it led to the reservoir
that held drinking water for St James's Palace, called the Queen's Basin.
At the time, the park was on the outskirts of London and remained an isolated area
well into the 18th century, when it was known as a haunt of highwaymen and thieves;
Horace Walpole was one of many to be robbed there. During the 18th and 19th
centuries, it was a popular place for ballooning attempts and public firework displays;
Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks was composed specifically for a fireworks
celebration held in The Green Park in 1749. The park was also known as a duelling
ground; one particularly notorious duel took place there in 1730 between William
Pulteney, William Pulteney, 1st Earl of Bath and John Hervey, 1st Earl of Bristol.
In 1820, John Nash landscaped the park, as an adjunct to St. James's Park. On 10
June 1840, it was the scene of Edward Oxford's assassination attempt on Queen
Victoria, on Constitution Hill
-Buckingham Palace-
Buckingham Palace is located in the City of Westminster, near St. James. In front of
the palace there is the Queen Victoria Memorial, a statue sculpted by Thomas Brock
and Aston Webb to honor queen Victoria. Behind the palace there are the royal
gardens and on the east side two important parks -St. James' Park and Green Parkcan be found.
Originally known as Buckingham House, the building at the core of today's palace
was a large townhouse built for the Duke of Buckinghamin 1703 on a site that had
been in private ownership for at least 150 years. It was acquired by King George III
in 1761 as a private residence for Queen Charlotte and became known as "The
Queen's House". During the 19th century it was enlarged, principally by architects
John Nash and Edward Blore, who constructed three wings around a central
courtyard. Buckingham Palace became the London residence of the British monarch
on the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837.
Every day at 11:30am tourists can see the famous Changing of the Guards,where the
soldiers -dressed in the typical red uniform and busby- offer the viewers an
interesting show.
-Queen Victoria Memorial-
Located in front of Buckingham Palace, the monument is 25 meters high and is
made of white marble stones. It is surmounted by a golden statue representing
“Victory” holding a palm. Beneath her there are personifications of Constancy and
Courage and also two eagles with outspread wings, that represent the Empire. At the
base there is the principal statue of the Queen and “Motherhood”, that refers to her
love for the population. Two angels -Justice and Truth- are located there. The steps
are decorated with ships representations, in reference to the Britain’s nautical power.
The memorial was built in honour of Queen Victoria, who reigned over the United
Kingdom for almost 64 years (from 1837 to 1901). It was designed ten years after her
death (between 1911 and 1924) by Sir Aston Webb, an English architect responsible
for the Mall and part of the Palace, and sculpted by Thomas Brock.
The Victoria Memorial was used in several celebrations such as the Golden Jubilee
of Queen Elisabeth. In that occasion the monument was used as a platform for
fireworks display and for a show of water jets that gushed from the fountain.
-St. James' Park-
St. James's Park is a 23 hectares park in the City of Westminster, with breathtaking
view over the various monuments of London. The park lies at the southern tip of the
St James's area, which was named after a leper hospital dedicated to St. James the
Less. The park is the most easterly of a near-continuous chain of parks that comprises
(moving westward) Green Park, Hyde Park, and Kensington Gardens.
The park has a small lake, St. James's Park Lake, with two islands, West Island, and
Duck Island, named for the lake's collection of waterfowl. A resident colony of
pelicans has been a feature of the park since pelicans were donated by a Russian
ambassador in 1664. The Blue Bridge across the lake affords a view west towards
Buckingham Palace framed by trees.
The park we see now was originally a swampy wasteland which the River Tyburn
often flooded on its way to the Thames. It was, however, ideal land for deer hunting,
the passion of kings and queens at the time. The royal court was based at the Palace
of Westminster and in 1536, King Henry VIII decided to create a deer park
conveniently nearby. He acquired land in St James's, put a fence around it and built a
hunting lodge that later became St James's Palace.
Over the centuries the park was modified on several occasions, until in the 1820s,
the park got its last great makeover. It was remodelled in the new naturalistic style.
The canal became a curving lake. Winding paths replaced formal avenues.
Fashionable shrubberies took over from traditional flower beds. Buckingham House
was enlarged to create a new palace with a vast arch faced in marble at the entrance.
And the Mall was turned into a grand processional route. The work was
commissioned by the Prince Regent, later George lV. It was part of a huge project
that created many of London's best-known landmarks, including Regent's Park and
Regent's Street. It was overseen by the architect and landscaper, John Nash. He
produced the designs in 1827 and within a year the work on St James's Park was
The park people see today is still very much as Nash designed it and there have been
only small changes since. The most recent modifications aim to complement his
work. The shrubberies are being restored in the spirit of his ideas and a new
restaurant, which opened in 2004, was designed to blend into the romantic landscape.
-Queen's Horseguards-
The Queen’s Life Guard is provided by men of the Household Cavalry Mounted
Regiment at Horse Guards. Horse Guards is named after the troops who have
mounted The Queen’s Life Guard here since the Restoration of King Charles II in
1660. Every day, whatever the season or weather, members of the Household Cavalry
Mounted Regiment ride down from Hyde Park Barracks in Knightsbridge to take
over guard duties at 11:00am (Sundays at 10:00am) for the next twenty–four hours.
The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment consists of a squadron from each of the
two most senior Regiments of the British Army: The Life Guards wear red tunics and
white plumbed helmets, and The Blues and Royals wear blue tunics and red plumed
When The Queen is in London, the Guard consists of one Officer, one Corporal
Major (who carries the Standard), two Non-Commissioned Officers, one Trumpeter
and ten Troopers. This known as a Long Guard. When Her Majesty is not resident in
London, the Guard is reduced to two Non-Commissioned Officers and ten Troopers.
This is known as a Short Guard.
In the morning, The Queen’s Life Guard leaves Hyde Park Barracks at 10:28am on
weekdays (9:28am on Sundays) and rides to Horse Guards Parade passing through
Hyde Park Corner and along Constitution Hill and The Mall. The ceremony of
Changing The Queen’s Life Guard then takes place on Horse Guards Parade.
During most of the day the entrance to Horse Guards is guarded by two mounted
sentries. After a parade at 4:00pm two dismounted sentries remain on duty until the
gates are shut at 8:00pm. At this time, a single sentry remains on guard until 7:00am
when a second sentry returns on duty.
-Downing Street-
Downing street is a cross street of Whitehall street in Westminster district, not far
from Houses of Parliament and about 4 minutes from Westminster station.
The street is characterized by ancient and elegant palaces where the government has
many residences and offices, which are used for meetings and formal events. There is
also a quiet atmosphere thanks to the gates. The most famous numbers of the street
are 10 and 11: respectively the house of Prime Minister and Chancellor of the
Downing Street was built in 1680 by a diplomat, sir George Downing; who planned
to build a row of townhouses for nobles, politicians, people of high social position in
general. The first gates were erected in 1920 to prevent the crowds in Whitehall and
then they were raised during the Irish Independence movement.
Nowadays the street is still closed to traffic with gates and there is no acces for
general public: there are many checkpoints and members of policy especially outside
number 10.
-Big Ben-
The Big Ben is located on the north end of the Houses of Parliament in London,
overlooking the River Thames. It is a 315-meters-tall clock tower, and is among
London's most iconic landmarks. The tower itself is officially known as Elizabeth
Tower, while Big Ben is the name given to the massive bell inside the clock tower,
which weighs more than 13 tons. At the base of each clock dial in gilt letters is the
latin inscription "Domine salvam fac reginam nostram Victoriam Primam", which
means "O Lord, keep safe our queen Victoria the First".
The Big Ben was raised as a part of Charles Barry's design for a new palace, as the
previous Palace of Westminster had been destroyed by fire in 1834. The architect,
though, turned to Augustus Pugin for the design of the clock tower, and it was the last
design before Pugin's descent into madness and death.
The origin of the nickname Big Ben is the subject of some debate. The nickname
was applied first to the Great Bell; it may have been named after Sir Benjamin Hall,
who oversaw the installation of the Great Bell, or after boxing's English Heavyweight
Champion Benjamin Caunt. Now Big Ben is often used, by extension, to refer to the
clock, the tower and the bell collectively, although the nickname is not universally
accepted as referring to the clock and tower. Some authors of works about the tower,
clock and bell sidestep the issue by using the words Big Ben first in the title, then
going on to clarify that the subject of the book is the clock and tower as well as the
-Houses of Parliament-
The Houses of Parliament, also known as the Palace of Westminster, is the seat of
the two parliamentary houses of the United Kingdom: the House of Lords and the
House of Commons.
The most famous feature of the Houses of Parliament is its clock tower, known as
Big Ben.
In the middle of the eleventh century, King Edward the Confessor had moved his
court to the Palace of Westminster, situated on a central site near the river Thames. In
1265 a parliament was created with two houses: the Lords and the Commons. The
House of Lords met at the Palace of Westminster while the House of Commons did
not have a permanent location.
After King Henry VIII moved his court to Whitehall Palace in 1530, the House of
Lords continued to meet in Westminster. In 1547 the House of Commons also moved
here, confirming Westminster as the central seat of government, a position it still
holds today.
In 1834 a fire destroyed the Palace of Westminster, leaving only the Jewel Tower,
the crypt and cloister of St. Stephens and Westminster Hall intact. After the fire, a
competition was organized to create a new building for the two houses of parliament.
A design by Sir Charles Barry and his assistant Augustus Welby Pugin was chosen
from ninety-seven entries. They created a large but balanced complex in neo-Gothic
style and incorporated the buildings that survived the fire. The whole complex was
finished in 1870, more than thirty years after construction started. It includes the
Clock Tower, Victoria Tower, House of Commons, House of Lords, Westminster Hall
and the Lobbies.
-Westminster Abbey-
Westminster Abbey, located near the Houses of Parliament, is more a historical site
than a religious one. Since 1066 every royal coronation, with the exception of
Edward V and Edward VIII, has taken place in this church.
The abbey also serves as the burial ground for numerous politicians, sovereigns and
artists. The abbey is stuffed with tombs, statues and monuments. Many coffins even
stand upright due to the lack of space. In total approximately 3300 people are buried
in the church and cloisters. Some of the most famous are Charles Darwin, Sir Isaac
Newton and David Livingstone.
A church stood here already in the eight century but the history of the current abbey
starts in 1050, when King Edward The Confessor decided to build a monastery. Only
a small part of this Norman monastery, consecrated in 1065, survived. The only
representation of this original building is shown on the Bayeux Tapestry.
Most of the present building dates from 1245 to 1272 when Henry III decided to
rebuild the abbey in the Gothic style. The building was later significantly expanded:
the Chapel of Henry VII was added between 1503 and 1512, while the two West
Front Towers date from 1745. The youngest part of the abbey is the North entrance,
completed in the nineteenth century.
Museum itinerary I
-British MuseumGreece and Rome
Duration: 15:30-18:00
Route: room 17 (Nereid Monument); room 18 (the Parthenon marbles); room 19
(red-figured jars); room 21 (sculptures from the Mausoleum of Halikarnassos); room
69 (the bronze gladiator's helmet); room 70 (Portland vase, bronze head of the Roman
emperor Augustus)
-Room 17: Nereid Monument-
The Nereid Monument is a sculptured tomb from Xanthos in classical period Lycia,
close to present-day Fethiye in Turkey. It took the form of a Greek temple on top of a
base decorated with sculpted friezes, and is thought to have been built in the early
fourth century BCE as a tomb for Arbinas (Lycian: Erbbina, or Erbinna), the
Xanthian dynast who ruled western Lycia.
The tomb is thought to have stood until the Byzantine era before falling into ruin.
The ruins were rediscovered by British traveller Charles Fellows in the early 1840s.
Fellows had them shipped to the British Museum: there some of them have been
reconstructed to show what the East façade of the monument would have looked like.
The Nereid Monument takes its name from the Nereids, sea-nymphs whose statues
were placed between the columns of this monumental tomb.
The monument is much influenced by the Ionic temples of the Acropolis of Athens
and its lavish decorative sculpture, which can be seen reconstructed and displayed
around the walls of Room 17, is a mixture of Greek and Lycian style and
-Room 18: the Parthenon Marbles-
The Parthenon Marbles, also known as Elgin Marbles, are a collection Classical
Greek marble sculptures (made mostly by Phidias and his assistants), inscriptions,
and architectural pieces that were originally part of the temple of the Parthenon and
other buildings on theAcropolis of Athens. Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, obtained
in 1801 a controversial permit from the Sublime Porte, which then ruled Greece.
From 1801 to 1812, Elgin's agents removed about half of the surviving sculptures of
the Parthenon, as well as sculptures from the Propylaeaand Erechtheum. The Marbles
were transported by sea to Britain. In Britain, the acquisition of the collection was
supported by some, while others, such as Lord Byron, likened Elgin's actions to
vandalism or looting.
Following a public debate in Parliament and the subsequent exoneration of Elgin,
the marbles were purchased from Elgin by the British government in 1816 and were
passed to the British Museum, where they are on display in the purpose-built Duveen
After gaining its independence from the Ottoman Empire, Greece began major
projects for the restoration of the country's monuments, and has expressed its
disapproval of Elgin's removal of the Marbles from the Acropolis and the Parthenon,
which is regarded as one of the world's greatest cultural monuments. Greece disputes
the subsequent purchase of the Marbles by the British Government and urges the
return of the marbles to Greece for their unification.
In 2014, UNESCO offered to mediate between Greece and the United Kingdom in
resolving the dispute of the Elgin Marbles, although this was later turned down by the
-Room 19: Red-figured Jars-
Image 1: Odysseus and the Sirens; Image 2: the Meidias Hydria Red-figure vase
painting is one of the most important styles of figural Greek vase painting. It
developed in Athens around 520 BC and remained in use until the late 3rd century
BC. It replaced the previously dominant style of black-figure vase painting within a
few decades. Its modern name is based on the figural depictions in red colour on a
black background, in contrast to the preceding black-figure style with black figures
on a red background. The most important areas of production, apart from Attica, were
in Southern Italy. The style was also adopted in other parts of Greece. Etruria became
an important centre of production outside the Greek World.
Attic red-figure vases were exported throughout Greece and beyond. For a long
time, they dominated the market for fine ceramics. Only few centres of pottery
production could compete with Athens in terms of innovation, quality and production
capacity. Of the red figure vases produced in Athens alone, more than 40,000
specimens and fragments survive today. From the second most important production
centre, Southern Italy, more than 20,000 vases and fragments are preserved. Starting
with the studies by John D. Beazley andArthur Dale Trendall, the study of this style
of art has made enormous progress. Some vases can be ascribed to individual artists
or schools. The images provide evidence for the exploration of Greek cultural
history, everyday life, iconography, and mythology.
Red-figure vase painting is one of the most important styles of figural Greek vase
painting. It developed in Athens around 520 BC and remained in use until the late 3rd
century BC. It replaced the previously dominant style of black-figure vase
painting within a few decades. Its modern name is based on the figural depictions in
red colour on a black background, in contrast to the preceding black-figure style with
black figures on a red background. The most important areas of production, apart
from Attica, were in Southern Italy. The style was also adopted in other parts
of Greece. Etruria became an important centre of production outside the Greek
Attic red-figure vases were exported throughout Greece and beyond. For a long
time, they dominated the market for fine ceramics. Only few centres of pottery
production could compete with Athens in terms of innovation, quality and production
capacity. Of the red figure vases produced in Athens alone, more than 40,000
specimens and fragments survive today. From the second most important production
centre, Southern Italy, more than 20,000 vases and fragments are preserved. Starting
with the studies by John D. Beazley andArthur Dale Trendall, the study of this style
of art has made enormous progress. Some vases can be ascribed to individual artists
or schools. The images provide evidence for the exploration of Greek cultural
history, everyday life, iconography, and mythology.
Seated woman with three companions
-Room 21: sculptures from the Mausoleum of Halikarnassos-
This lion is among the few free-standing sculptures from the Mausoleum at the British Museum.
The Mausoleum at Halikarnassos (modern Bodrum) was a large and elaborate tomb
built for king Maussollos of Karia, south west Turkey. Although built on a much
grander scale, the Mausoleum took inspiration for its design from the Nereid
Monument of Lycian Xanthos. Listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient
World, it gave its name to all subsequent monumental tombs.
Standing on a tall podium, the building was up to 40 metres in height and was
decorated with a large amount of sculpture, carved both in the round and in relief.
The sculptural themes explored life in the court of the Karian king and his hopes for
the afterlife.
Colossal free-standing statues and marble relief slabs from the Mausoleum can be
seen in Room 21, as well as fragments of the huge marble, four-horse chariot that
crowned the pyramid roof.
King Maussollos (on the right) and his wife
Fragments of the colossal horse from the quadriga of the Mausoleum of Halikarnassos (350 BC)
Fragments of the colossal horse from the quadriga of the Mausoleum of Halikarnassos (350 BC)
-Room 69: bronze gladiator's helmet-
It is a Roman bronze helmet dated 1stC and was used in gladiator fights, who fought
in violent confrontations with other gladiators, wild animals, and condemned
criminals. Some gladiators were volunteers who risked their lives and their legal and
social standing by appearing in the arena. Most were despised as slaves, schooled
under harsh conditions, socially marginalized, and segregated even in death. The
helmet has a grille of linked circles to protect the face, and a broad brim to protect the
back and sides of the head. At the front of the helmet is a medallion of Hercules.
-Room 70: Portland vase-
The Portland Vase is a Roman cameo glass vase, which is dated to between AD 1
and AD 25, though low BC dates have some scholarly support. It is the best known
piece of Roman cameo glass and has served as an inspiration to many glass and
porcelain makers from about the beginning of the 18th century onwards. It is first
recorded in Rome in 1600-1601, and since 1810 has been in the British Museum in
London. It was eventually bought by the museum in 1945.
The vase is about 25 centimeters high and 56 in circumference. It is made of violetblue glass, and surrounded with a single continuous white glass cameo making two
distinct scenes, depicting seven human figures, plus a large snake, and two bearded
and horned heads below the handles, marking the break between the scenes.
The bottom of the vase was a cameo glass disc, also in blue and white, showing a
head, presumed to be of Paris or Priam on the basis of the Phrygian cap it wears. This
roundel clearly does not belong to the vase, and has been displayed separately since
1845. It may have been added to mend a break in antiquity or after, or the result of a
conversion from an original amphora form (paralleled by a similar blue-glass cameo
vessel from Pompeii) - it was definitely attached to the bottom from at least 1826.
-Room 70: bronze head of the Roman Emperor Augustus-
The Meroë Head, Meroe Head or Head of Augustus from Meroë is an over-life size
bronze head that was found in the ancient Nubian site of Meroë in Sudan. Long
admired for its striking appearance and perfect proportions, it is now part of the
British Museum's collection.
The head was excavated by the British archaeologist John Garstang in December
1910 at Meroë, which had been the capital of the Kingdom of Kush for several
centuries. The sculpture was found buried beneath a monumental stairway that lead to
an altar of victory. This intended insult of burying the statue resulted in the head
being well presented after being buried for over 1900 years. The bust was donated to
the British Museum by the Sudan Excavation Committee with the support of the
National Art Collections Fund in 1911.
The head had clearly been hacked off a large statue made in honour of the Roman
Emperor. The Greek historian Strabo mentions in his chronicles that numerous towns
in Lower Egypt were adorned with statues of Augustus before an invading Kushite
army looted many of them in 25 BC. Although the Roman military successfully
invaded Kushite territory and reclaimed many statues, they were unable to reach as
far south as the Kushite capital itself. The placing of the Emperor's head below the
shrine's steps was clearly designed to symbolically denigrate the reputation of
Augustus in the eyes of the Meroitic aristocracy.
Museum itinerary II
-National Gallery16th century
Duration: 15:30-18:00
Route: room 2 (Leonardo da Vinci: The Virgin Of The Rocks); room 8
(Michelangelo: The Entombment); room D (Raphael: Portrait Of Pope Julius II);
room 10 (Titian: Bacchus And Ariadne); room 62 (Bellini: The Doge Leonardo
-Room 2: The Virgin Of The Rocks-
The Virgin of the Rocks (also called the Madonna of the Rocks) is the name used for
two paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, of the same subject, and of a composition which
is identical except for several significant details. The version generally considered the
prime version, that is the earlier of the two, hangs in the Louvre Paris and the other in
the National Gallery, London. The paintings are both nearly 2 metres high and are
painted in oils. Both were painted on wooden panel; that in the Louvre has been
transferred to canvas.
Both paintings show the Madonna and Child Jesus with the infant John the Baptist
and an angel, in a rocky setting which gives the paintings their usual name. The
significant compositional differences are in the gaze and right hand of the angel.
There are many minor ways in which the works differ, including the colours, the
lighting, the flora, and the way in which sfumato has been used. Although the date of
an associated commission is documented, the complete histories of the two paintings
are unknown, and lead to speculation about which of the two is earlier.
-Room 8: The Entombment-
The Entombment is an unfinished painting of the placing of the body of Jesus in the
garden tomb, now generally attributed to the Italian Renaissance master
Michelangelo Buonarroti and dated to around 1500 or 1501. The National Gallery in
London purchased the work in 1868 from Robert Macpherson, a Scottish
photographer resident in Rome who, according to various conflicting accounts, had
acquired the painting there some 20 years before.
According to documents discovered in 1981, Michelangelo had been commissioned
to paint a panel for the church of Sant'Agostino in Rome, but in the end gave back the
sum received. It is probable that this work was the Entombment, which remained
unfinished upon Michelangelo's return to Florence.
The centre of the panel portrays Christ being carried up a flight of steps to the
sepulchre, which was intended to be painted in the blank area at the top right of the
work. The bearded older man behind him is probably Joseph of Arimathea, who gave
up his tomb for use as Christ's sepulchre. The long-haired figure on the left is
probably Saint John, wearing a long orange-red gown, with one of the Marys
(possibly Mary Magdalene) kneeling at his feet.
The identity of the two figures on the right is uncertain. Suggested identities for the
elongated inner figure range from Nicodemus to one of the Marys, while the figure
on the far right may be Mary Salome. The large unfinished area at the bottom right
was intended to be used for the kneeling form of the Virgin Mary.
The floating appearance of some of the figures may be partly explained by the fact
that the painting is intended to be viewed from below, and to the fact that it is
unfinished. However, the apparent incongruity of the stance of the bearer on the right
remains problematical.
Interesting aspects are that many of the unfinished parts of the painting, such as the
cloak of the missing Virgin, would have required quantities of the expensive lapis
lazuli blue. If this was in short supply, it could be that this would have held up
completion of the painting, which may explain why it was unfinished. However, even
if this were so, it would not explain why the artist could not have completed the many
other parts of the painting that did not require any blue.
There is also an anecdote that Michelangelo received a letter from his father saying
that he should abandon whatever he was doing because a great piece of marble had
arrived for him. So he did, and turned that marble into David.
-Room D: Portrait Of Pope Julius II-
Julius II belonged to the della Rovere family. He was a forceful ruler, who reasserted
his power over the Papal States by military action. He patronised the arts and ordered
the rebuilding of St Peter's in Rome.
The painter and biographer Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574) wrote of Raphael's early
years in Rome: 'And at this time... he also made a portrait of Pope Julius in a picture
in oils, so true and so lifelike, that the portrait caused all who saw it to tremble as if it
had been the living man himself.' The painting seems to have been displayed in the
Roman Church of Santa Maria del Popolo which had been redecorated at the expense
of the della Rovere family. The format was to be exceedingly influential on
subsequent papal portraiture.
The painting was purchased from the Angerstein collection.
-Room 10: Bacchus and Ariadne-
Bacchus, god of wine, emerges with his followers from the landscape to the right.
Falling in love with Ariadne on sight, he leaps from his chariot, drawn by two
cheetahs, towards her. Ariadne had been abandoned on the Greek island of Naxos by
Theseus, whose ship is shown in the distance. The picture shows her initial fear of
Bacchus, but he raised her to heaven and turned her into a constellation, represented
by the stars above her head.
The programme for the series was probably devised by a humanist scholar in the
service of Alfonso d'Este. The subject of Bacchus and Ariadne is derived from the
classical authors Ovid and Catullus.
The painting is one of a famous series by Bellini, Titian and the Ferrarese artist
Dosso Dossi, commissioned for the Camerino d'Alabastro, (Alabaster Room) in the
Ducal Palace, Ferrara, by Alfonso d'Este, Duke of Ferrara, who in around 1510 tried
to include Michelangelo and Raphael among the contributors. Titian's painting was in
fact a substitute for one with a similar subject which the Duke had commissioned
from Raphael. Bellini's 'Feast of the Gods' for this room is dated 1514, and the three
works by Titian were painted 1518-25.
-Room 62: The Doge Leonardo Loredan-
Leonardo Loredan was the Doge of Venice from 1501-21. He is shown here wearing
his robes of state for this formal portrait. The hat and ornate buttons are part of the
official wardrobe. The sitter can be identified as Doge Loredan by comparing his
features with portrait medals of him. The shape of the hat comes from the hood of a
doublet. It is called a 'corno' and was worn over a linen cap.
Venice had a tradition of painting formal portraits of its rulers dressed in state robes.
This work is painted in the style of the sculpted portrait busts popular at the time.
These were often inspired by Roman sculpture. Bellini signed his name in its Latin
form on the cartellino, or 'small paper', on the parapet. He was famous for his
portraiture and helped make this art form especially popular in Venice.