Titian’s Noli me Tangere
Titian is another painter in whom Melville had a lifelong interest. In 1849, when he was thirty years old, in his first exposure to authentic Old Master paints, “A Venus by Titian” was one of the few titles he singled out among hundreds upon hundreds at Hampton Court in England. This was probably its copy of the Venus of Urbino in Florence, though Hampton Court also had a copy of Titian’s Venus at Her Toilet with One Cupid (NN J 16, 283; Wethey 3: 204, 242-43). A week later Melville wrote in his journal that the Dulwich Gallery is “full of gems—Titians, Claudes, Salvators, Murillos.” Among those he also specified was “The Venus” (NN J 20). Prominent among the Titians at the Dulwich Gallery was The Rape of Europa, a voluptuous canvas in the painter’s later style whose original is currently at the Gardner Museum in Boston (Wethey 3: cat. 32, p. 174). The Dulwich also owned a copy of Titian’s Venus and Adonis; Hazlitt considered this to be “one of the best we have seen” in his essay on “The Dulwich Gallery” in Melville’s library (Hazlitt, Criticisms, 36). During his two visits to the private collection of Samuel Rogers at the end of London visit (as was mentioned in the previous entry on Raphael), Melville would have closely examined Titian’s Noli me Tangeri (fig. 2), which Rogers considered the “gem” of his collection and bequeathed to London’s National Gallery at his death in 1856 (NN J 16, 20, 367-69; Wallace 1992: 286).