On Titian’s Poesie for Philip II

Emmelyn Butterfield-Rosen at Artforum:

FEW FACES TO MEET the public spotlight in recent years have more to tell about the mental mechanisms of male shame, impunity, and self-absolution than that of the furry brown-and-white-spotted Spanish pointer staring out of Titian’s Diana and Callisto, 1556–59. This dog has been a bad dog, as he seems to know. (I say “he” since, according to the visual logic of gender organizing the suite of pictures of which Diana and Callisto forms one-sixth, Titian’s “big dog” simply can’t be a bitch.)1 Sometime previously, on a hunting trip that took an unexpected twist, this Spanish pointer turned against and devoured his master, Actaeon, a human hunter whom Diana, goddess of chastity, transformed into a stag after he came upon her bathing naked. Diana and Callisto asks its viewer to contemplate the aftermath of that attack; his master having passed through his digestive system, Actaeon’s dog, portrayed in another of the series’ pictures, reappears as a tagalong—or the captive?—of Diana’s band of proto-feminist separatists. Titian gives us the gaze of this pointer at the moment Diana is exiling Callisto, a favorite nymph who broke—unwillingly—her vow of virginity.

more here.