An important narrative strategy for the realist novelist in pursuit of historical authenticity is the accumulation of artifacts designed to elide the difference between art and fact. Hugh Witemeyer has argued that George Eliot "regularly juxtaposes her characters with morally significant art works located in the story," adding that "these works are sometimes `real' (that is, imitated from known originals) and sometimes purely fictive." This essay argues that the most important picture in Romola, Piero di Cosimo's "painted record" of Tito Melema's guilty and fearful response to the encounter with his adoptive father on the steps of the Duomo, is neither entirely fictive nor solely inspired by Michelangelo's statue of Bacchus, which now stands in the Bargello (as suggested respectively by Witemeyer and Joseph Wiesenfarth), but is a fictional appropriation of Titian's Il Bravo, which George Eliot would almost certainly have seen during a visit to Vienna made shortly before she began working on the novel.

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