• Email
  • Print

Titian’s Women’

In response to:

Titian: The Sacred and Profane from the March 18, 1999 issue

To the Editors:

When Professor Rowland [NYR, March 18] connects Titian with the pinups of our time, she stumbles and, I believe, short-circuits two different connoisseurs of feminine beauty—fashion virtuoso Antonio Lopez and Esquire Girl creator Alberto Vargas—into a concoction of her own: “Antonio Vargas.”

H.W. Henrikson
Institute of the History of Art
University of Stockholm
Stockholm, Sweden

Ingrid Rowland replies:

I stand corrected, though I would rather be imagined penitentially posing—like the Alberto Vargas girls I had in mind. Many thanks.

To the Editors:

I am delighted that Ingrid Rowland describes me as “a distinguished scholar of Italian art” in her review of my recent book, Titian’s Women [NYR, March 18] and gratified by her recognition of my “expertise in matters of archival research and social history.” There are, however, some assertions in her review that warrant correction. Professor Rowland thinks that I “obscure” some of my own “most important observations”; but she herself obscures the authorship of two quotations that she cites to illustrate the kind of academic writing that no one will “bother to decipher.” These quotations come from works by two distinguished scholars, Miriam Hansen and Kaja Silverman, who are clearly identified in my book. Professor Rowland’s complaints about their writing should be directed at them, not at me.

Professor Rowland also laments that the Virgin Mary is not considered in Titian’s Women. Images of the Madonna obey their own laws and can logically be considered a class apart from depictions of other female subjects (a point made in the book). In any case, since I have dealt with Madonna painting so extensively in previous publications, including Piety and Patronage in Renaissance Venice: Bellini, Titian, and the Franciscans (Yale University Press, 1986; revised paperback edition, 1990), I did not wish to repeat myself in Titian’s Women.

Despite her disgruntled tone, it seems from her review that Professor Rowland learned a lot from Titian’s Women and perhaps even enjoyed reading it. I hope other readers will share these positive aspects of her experience.

Rona Goffen
Board of Governors Professor of Art History
Rutgers University

  • Email
  • Print