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Feast of the Gods
Classical story
 Alfonso's Feast of the Gods

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 6 ft. by 6 ft., it dominates today the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., as, indeed it must have dominated Alfonso's studiolo in Ferrara nearly five centuries ago.

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. If this is true, why would Alfonso have wanted this done?

These are some of the baffling questions which 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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