1514-15, printed 1549
Part of a set. See all set records
(Italian, c. 1488-1576)
Unframed: 40 x 55 cm (15 3/4 x 21 5/8 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1952.296
Titian may have identified the Egyptians in this composition, drowned in the Red Sea as they pursued the fleeing Israelites, with the League of Cambrai, a military alliance formed by the major powers in southern Europe and a menace to his hometown of Venice.
This composition is made up of twelve separately printed woodcuts to create one image in grand scale. The size rivals that of a history painting, and, unlike most prints, the composition would have been hung on the wall. This is confirmed by the complete lack of complete impressions from the date of the print's creation—around 1515. This and all extant impressions date from a later edition, published in 1549 by the publisher Domenico dalle Greche (Italian, active 1543-1558). The woodcut is based on a drawing by the Venetian master Titian, and the bold, expressive, and irregular marks of the woodcutter imitate his drawing manner. The narrative—that of the Israelites’ persecution under the Egyptian pharaoh and his army’s fate when they followed Moses into the Red Sea—is propelled across the twelve sheets with remarkable unity. The rolling clouds and turbulent sea culminate in the solid gravity of the magnificent cliff that overhangs the shore.
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