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A couple in embrace, drawing by Titian, c.1550-1571
This is one of Titian’s most sensual drawings. A flurry of strokes of charcoal define the figures’ bodies suggesting they are locked together in the heights of passion. It may be that the couple depicted is mythological: comparison with a painting representing Mars and Venus in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, possibly by Titian, shows two similar figures in a pose that has been reversed and modified. 
 
Stylistically, the boldness of handling recalls the underdrawing of Titian’s painting Tarquin and Lucretia, sent to Philip II of Spain in 1571, and now in the Fitzwilliam Museum.
 
This drawing was a favourite of artist-collectors. It seems likely to have been owned by Rubens, after which it belonged to Jonathan Richardson. Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon were the first to propose an attribution to Titian when they acquired it around 1925.