Alfonso’s painting, the Feast of the Gods, has always been regarded as a masterpiece of the Italian Renaissance. Its impact is accentuated by its huge size. Measuring nearly 2 meters by 2 meters, it dominated the Duke’s Camerino d'Alabastro.
From the start, there was a mystery about the painting — who painted it? Why were there several styles? Vasari in his Lives of the Artists reports that Bellini failed to finish it before he died and that it was Titian who completed it. We know that to be incorrect because Bellini signed the painting and received a final payment of 85 golden ducats from Alfonso on 14 November 1514. This leads to a strange hypothesis — that Alfonso ordered Titian to paint over part of Bellini’s original painting and that Titian agreed to do so. Why would Alfonso have wanted this done?
These baffling questions have remained unanswered for almost five centuries. Now finally the scientific investigation of the present day allows some of these questions to be answered.
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