Planning the scene

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Sketch of the Worship of Venus by Fra Bartolommeo (early 16th cent.). This sketch was commissioned by Duke Alfonso d'Este for his private gallery, and was the foundation for the final painting by Titian.

Final version of the Worship of Venus, as painted by Titian.

The Feast of the Gods was commissioned by duke Alfonso to be the centerpiece of his new private art gallery. He planned to decorate his gallery with stories from classical literature. The Feast of the Gods shows a winter banquet presided over by the wine god Bacchus and mentioned in Ovid’s calendar of Roman rituals.

After the painting was commissioned, Bellini made a charcoal sketch to send the duke for approval. That sketch has been lost but there does exist a sketch for another painting commissioned for the Duke’s gallery. Fra Bartolommeo made this sketch of a Worship of Venus, but he died before painting it. Titian was hired to replace him and used Fra Bartolommeo’s sketch as the basis for his version of the Worship of Venus.