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Cy Twombly Lepanto VII, 2001

Lepanto Cycle

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The “Lepanto” cycle is one of Cy Twombly’s major works and consists of twelve paintings that are exhibited permanently in a separate room at Museum Brandhorst. Vibrant hues in a broad palette of yellows, reds, turquoise and aquamarine define the drama of the monumental paintings. The action on the canvases intensifies, all the artist’s painting tools and painterly gestures are used expressively.

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Cy traveled to many Mediterranean countries and settled in Rome in 1957. One day he visited an old villa in Vicenza in the Veneto region. There, on the façade, he saw an artwork showing the Battle of Lepanto. Cy adopted the motif and painted his monumental picture series.

In 2001 Cy Twombly painted a picture cycle depicting the naval battle of Lepanto, which took place in 1571 between Venice—with its allies Genoa, Spain and the pope—and the Ottomans. Near Lepanto on the Greek coast, the Christian alliance surprised the elegant, golden glittering Ottoman fleet and destroyed it in only one day.

Delve deeper

Are you interested in more images from art history on the theme of “Lepanto”?


In which landscape do you feel particularly comfortable or magically attracted? How do they feel? Do they have a certain sound, smell, hue?

Genau hinsehen

How can the moments of the sea battle be identified in the series of pictures?

Look closely

Which painterly means does Cy Twombly use in the “Lepanto Cycle?”

"When I was growing up, during the summers with my parents we were always ... by the sea. You know, sometimes little boys love cars, but I had a particular passion for boats ..."

Cy Twombly


History painting?

The series of paintings is also a large-scale homage to Venetian painting and the tradition that emanated from it: a spontaneous painting style developed from color, leading from Titian and Tintoretto to Rubens and Vélasquez, and finally to William Turner, Claude Monet and the expressive painting of the 20th century.


It is reported that the naval battle was fought on a bright Sunday in October. Is this report reflected on the canvases?

Ponder this

What moves an artist to commemorate an event that happened 430 years ago?


Architecture and hanging influence our experience of art. A room at Museum Brandhorst was specially designed for the “Lepanto” cycle.

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Artist Cy Twombly

was born in Lexington, Virginia, USA, in 1928 and died in Rome in 2011.

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