Giovanni Bellini’s ‘The Feast of the Gods’ is the artist’s greatest painting on canvas for he was trained primarily on wood as a medium. This 67 x 74in (National Gallery of Art). painting used oil on canvas and depicts a scene from Ovid’s poem pertaining to literally, a feast of the gods. The suggestive narrative that Bellini portrayed on his work emphasized on some interesting elements that were characteristic of its inherent mythological underpinnings.
The characters are Roman gods, naiads, and satyrs among others. The vivid colors and the dark tones impress upon the contrast with the subtle strokes found in the painting. The blue tones are especially vibrant in the clothes of Bacchus and the nymphs but of a lighter hue in comparison with the sky. This may be characteristic of winter consistent with the theme of a winter festival thrown by Bacchus in accordance with the poem. Easily, one can see that this is not a hot summer day but a tepid and perhaps shady time in the day. Titian’s hand in the painting is apparent in the density of the various elements throughout.
The main premise of a feast is the coherent element of the painting. The gods, each doing their individual thing, add to the atmosphere that it conjures. The blasé expression of these gods gives off the homogenous quality of the theme. Priapus trying to carry out his ill-conceived plan against Lotis and the ass is also prominent in the painting. Famously, the x-ray photographs of the painting prove that contrary to the assumption that Bellini was not able to finish the painting because of his death, there was no such requirement for Titian to complete it.
Rather, historians agree that the alterations were executed to make Bellini’s painting flow seamlessly with the other paintings in the Alabaster Room. “Eliminated by Titian’s intervention was the contrast between the figural group, so markedly animated by means of colour, and the regular repetition of tree trunks and the uniform dark green of the leaf canopy” (Bätschmann 210). This would have given it more balance as an undeviating background would have made the scene of the gods the main focus of the eye.
For lack of a better word, the painting evoked a sense of noise. In totality it looks great in the sense that there are the human elements that make it interesting and playful to the imagination. It reminds me of Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’ in many ways. Both have religious themes, both portray a particularly interesting and much-written about scene and both are classic works of art by two great artists of their time. But where I find Da Vinci direct to the point and unswerving, ‘The Feast of the Gods’ had too many things happening at the same time that one cannot really quite grasp where to look exactly.
This in effect perplexes the eyes to look intently at any particular portion. With ‘The Last Supper’ you get Jesus and the apostles seated on a table without trees or mountains. But this is its fault in as much as it is its beauty. Every segment and every angle seem to tell a story that one glance would never be enough to fully take in the painting.
It has its own nooks and crannies that require patience to see and appreciate what they suggest. The fact that it is completed by more than one artist perhaps best explains this multiplicity and the fact of its complexity. Rather than being a nuisance, it has given it the flare and distinctiveness to make it memorable.
Bätschmann, Oskar. .Giovanni Bellini. London: Reaktion, 2008. .Google Books. Web. 25 Mar. 2013.
National Gallery of Art. “The Feast of the Gods.” .The Feast of the Gods. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2013.