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Titian
Titian self-portrait, c.1567; Museo del Prado, Madrid
Birth name Tiziano Vecelli
Born c. 1488/1490
Pieve di Cadore
Died August 27, 1576 (aged 84-86)
Venice
Nationality Italian
Field Painting
Movement High Renaissance
Works Assumption of the Virgin
Pesaro Altarpiece
Venus of Urbino

Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio (c. 1473/1490[1] – 27 August 1576[2] better known as Titian (pronounced /ˈtɪʃən/) was an Italian painter, the leader of 16th-century Venetian school of the Italian Renaissance. He was born in Pieve di Cadore, near Belluno (in Veneto), in the Republic of Venice. During his lifetime he was often called Da Cadore, taken from the place of his birth.

Recognized by his contemporaries as "The Sun Amidst Small Stars" (recalling the famous final line of Dante's Paradiso), Titian was one of the most versatile of Italian painters, equally adept with portraits, landscape backgrounds, and mythological and religious subjects. His painting methods, particularly in the application and use of color, would exercise a profound influence not only on painters of the Italian Renaissance, but on future generations of Western art.[3]

During the course of his long life Titian's artistic manner changed drastically[4] but he retained a lifelong interest in color. Although his mature works may not contain the vivid, luminous tints of his early pieces, their loose brushwork and subtlety of polychromatic modulations are without precedent in the history of Western art.

Contents

Biography

Early years

No one is sure of the exact date of Titian's birth; when he was an old man he claimed in a letter to Philip II to have been born in 1474, but this seems most unlikely.[5] Other writers contemporary to his old age give figures for his age which would equate to birthdates between 1473 to after 1482,[6] but most modern scholars believe a date nearer 1490 is more likely; the Metropolitan Museum of Art's timeline supports c.1488, as does the Getty Research Institute.[7] He was the eldest of a family of four and son of Gregorio Vecelli, a distinguished councilor and soldier, and of his wife Lucia. His father was superintendent of the castle of Pieve di Cadore and also managed local mines for their owners.[8] Many relatives, including Titian's grandfather, were notaries, and the family were well-established in the area, which was ruled by Venice.

This early portrait (c. 1512) was long wrongly believed to be of Ariosto; it is more likely a self-portrait, and the composition was borrowed by Rembrandt for his own self-portraits.

At the age of about ten to twelve he and his brother Francesco (who perhaps followed later) were sent to an uncle in Venice to find an apprenticeship with a painter. The minor painter, Sebastian Zuccato, whose sons became well-known mosaicists, and who may have been a family friend, arranged for the brothers to enter the studio of the elderly Gentile Bellini, from which they later transferred to that of his brother Giovanni Bellini.[8] At that time the Bellinis, especially Giovanni, were the leading artists in the city. There he found a group of young men about his own age, among them Giovanni Palma da Serinalta, Lorenzo Lotto, Sebastiano Luciani, and Giorgio da Castelfranco, nicknamed Giorgione. Francesco Vecellio, his younger brother, later became a painter of some note in Venice.

A fresco of Hercules on the Morosini Palace is said to have been one of his earliest works; others were the Bellini-esque so-called Gypsy Madonna in Vienna,[9] and the Visitation of Mary and Elizabeth (from the convent of S. Andrea), now in the Accademia, Venice.

Titian joined Giorgione as an assistant, but many contemporary critics already found his work more impressive, for example in the exterior frescoes (now almost totally destroyed) that they did for the Fondacio dei Tedeschi, and their relationship evidently had a significant element of rivalry. Distinguishing between their work at this period remains a subject of scholarly controversy, and there has been a substantial movement of attributions from Giorgione to Titian in the 20th century, with little traffic the other way. One of the earliest known works of Titian, the little Ecce Homo[10] of the Scuola di San Rocco, was long regarded as the work of Giorgione.[11]

The two young masters were likewise recognized as the two leaders of their new school of "arte moderna", that is of painting made more flexible, freed from symmetry and the remnants of hieratic conventions still to be found in the works of Giovanni Bellini.

Salome, or Judith; this religious work also functions as an idealized portrait of a beauty, a genre developed by Titian, supposedly often using Venetian courtesans as models.

In 1507–1508 Giorgione was commissioned by the state to execute frescoes on the re-erected Fondaco dei Tedeschi. Titian and Morto da Feltre worked along with him, and some fragments of paintings remain, probably by Giorgione. Some of their work is known, in part, through the engravings of Fontana. After Giorgione's early death in 1510, Titian continued to paint Giorgionesque subjects for some time, though his style developed its own trademarks, including bold and expressive brushwork.

Titian's talent in fresco is shown in those he painted in 1511 at Padua in the Carmelite church and in the Scuola del Santo, some of which have been preserved, among them the Meeting at the Golden Gate, and three scenes from the life of St. Anthony of Padua, the Murder of a Young Woman by Her Husband, A Child Testifying to Its Mother's Innocence, and The Saint Healing the Young Man with a Broken Limb.

From Padua in 1512, Titian returned to Venice; and in 1513 he obtained a broker's patent in the Fondaco dei Tedeschi (state-warehouse for the German merchants), termed La Sanseria or Senseria (a privilege much coveted by rising or risen artists), and became superintendent of the government works, being especially charged to complete the paintings left unfinished by Giovanni Bellini in the hall of the great council in the ducal palace. He set up an atelier on the Grand Canal at S. Samuele, the precise site being now unknown. It was not until 1516, upon the death of Bellini, that he came into actual enjoyment of his patent. At the same time he entered an exclusive arrangement for painting. The patent yielded him a good annuity of 20 crowns and exempted him from certain taxes—he being bound in return to paint likenesses of the successive Doges of his time at the fixed price of eight crowns each. The actual number he executed was five.

Growth

It took Titian two years (1516–1518) to complete the oil painting Assunta, whose dynamic three-tier composition and color scheme established him as the preeminent painter north of Rome.

Giorgione died in 1510 and Giovanni Bellini in 1516, leaving Titian unrivaled in the Venetian School. For sixty years he was to be the undisputed master of Venetian painting, and as it were, the painter laureate of the Republic Serenissime. As early as 1516 he succeeded his master Giovanni Bellini in receiving a pension from the Senate.[12]

During this period (1516–1530), which may be called the period of his mastery and maturity, the artist moved on from his early Giorgionesque style, undertook larger and more complex subjects and for the first time attempted a monumental style.

In 1516 he completed for the high altar of the church of the Frari, his famous masterpiece, the Assumption of the Virgin, still in situ. This extraordinary piece of colorism, executed on a grand scale rarely before seen in Italy, created a sensation.[13] The Signoria took note, and observed that Titian was neglecting his work in the hall of the great council.

The pictorial structure of the Assumption—that of uniting in the same composition two or three scenes superimposed on different levels, earth and heaven, the temporal and the infinite — was continued in a series of works such as the retable of San Domenico at Ancona (1520), the retable of Brescia (1522), and the retable of San Niccolò (1523), in the Vatican Museum), each time attaining to a higher and more perfect conception, finally reaching a classic formula in the Pesaro Madonna, (better known as the Madonna di Ca' Pesaro) (c. 1519–1526), also for the Frari church. This perhaps is his most studied work, whose patiently developed plan is set forth with supreme display of order and freedom, originality and style. Here Titian gave a new conception of the traditional groups of donors and holy persons moving in aerial space, the plans and different degrees set in an architectural framework.[14]

Titian was now at the height of his fame, and towards 1521, following the production of a figure of St. Sebastian for the papal legate in Brescia (a work of which there are numerous replicas), purchasers pressed for his work.

To this period belongs a more extraordinary work, The Death of St. Peter Martyr (1530), formerly in the Dominican Church of San Zanipolo, and destroyed by an Austrian shell in 1867. Only copies and engravings of this proto-Baroque picture remain; it combined extreme violence and a landscape, mostly consisting of a great tree, that pressed into the scene and seems to accentuate the drama in a way that looks forward to the Baroque.[15]

The artist simultaneously continued his series of small Madonnas which he treated amid beautiful landscapes in the manner of genre pictures or poetic pastorals, the Virgin with the Rabbit in the Louvre being the finished type of these pictures. Another work of the same period, also in the Louvre, is the Entombment. This was also the period of the three large and famous mythological scenes for the camerino of Alfonso d'Este in Ferrara, The Andrians and the Worship of Venus in the Prado, and the Bacchus and Ariadne (1520-23) in London,[16] "...perhaps the most brilliant productions of the neo-pagan culture or "Alexandrianism" of the Renaissance, many times imitated but never surpassed even by Rubens himself."[17] Finally this was the period when the artist composed the half-length figures and busts of young women, probably courtesans, such as Flora of the Uffizi, or The Young Woman at Her Toilet in the Louvre.

Titian's state portrait of Emperor Charles V at Mühlberg (1548) established a new genre, that of the grand equestrian portrait. The composition is steeped both in the Roman tradition of equestrian sculpture and in the medieval representations of an ideal Christian knight, but the weary figure and face have a subtlety few such representations attempt.

In 1525 he married a lady named Cecilia, thereby legitimizing their first child, Pomponio, and two others followed, including Titian's favorite, Orazio, who became his assistant. About 1526 he became acquainted, and soon exceedingly intimate, with Pietro Aretino, the influential and audacious figure who features so strangely in the chronicles of the time. Titian sent a portrait of him to Gonzaga, duke of Mantua.

In August 1530 his wife died giving birth to a daughter, Lavinia, and with his three children he moved house, and convinced his sister Orsa to come from Cadore and take charge of the household. The mansion, difficult to find now, is in the Bin Grande, then a fashionable suburb, at the extreme end of Venice, on the sea, with beautiful gardens and a view towards Murano.

Maturity

French ambassador to the Ottoman Porte Gabriel de Luetz d'Aramont, 1541-1542.

During the next period (1530–1550), Titian developed the style introduced by his dramatic Death of St. Peter Martyr. The Venetian government, dissatisfied with Titian's neglect of the work for the ducal palace, ordered him in 1538 to refund the money which he had received, and Pordenone, his rival of recent years, was installed in his place. However, at the end of a year Pordenone died, and Titian, who meanwhile applied himself diligently to painting in the hall the Battle of Cadore, was reinstated. This major battle scene, was lost along with so many other major works by Venetian artists by the great fire which destroyed all the old pictures in the great chambers of the Doge's Palace in 1577. It represented in life-size the moment at which the Venetian general, D'Alviano attacked the enemy with horses and men crashing down into a stream, and was the artist's most important attempt at a tumultuous and heroic scene of movement to rival Raphael's Battle of Constantine and the equally ill-fated Battle of Cascina of Michelangelo and The Battle of Anghiari of Leonardo (both unfinished). There remains only a poor, incomplete copy at the Uffizi, and a mediocre engraving by Fontana. The Speech of the Marquis del Vasto (Madrid, 1541) was also partly destroyed by fire. But this period of the master's work is still represented by the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin (Venice, 1539), one of his most popular canvasses, and by the Ecce Homo (Vienna, 1541). Despite its loss, the painting had a great influence on Bolognese art and Rubens, both in the handling of details and the general effect of horses, soldiers, lictors, powerful stirrings of crowds at the foot of a stairway, lit by torches with the flapping of banners against the sky.

Titian's unmatched handling of color is exemplified by his Danaë with Nursemaid, one of several mythological paintings, or "poesie" ("poems") as the painter called them, done for Philip II of Spain. Although Michelangelo adjudged this piece deficient from the point of view of drawing, Titian and his studio produced several versions for other patrons.

Less successful were the pendentives of the cupola at Santa Maria della Salute (Death of Abel, Sacrifice of Abraham, David and Goliath). These violent scenes viewed in perspective from below—like the famous pendentives of the Sistine Chapel Ceiling—were by their very nature in unfavorable situations. They were nevertheless much admired and imitated, Rubens among others applying this system to his forty ceilings (the sketches only remain) of the Jesuit church at Antwerp.

At this time also, the time of his visit to Rome, the artist began his series of reclining Venuses (The Venus of Urbino of the Uffizi, Venus and Love at the same museum, Venus and the Organ-Player, Madrid), in which is recognized the effect or the direct reflection of the impression produced on the master by contact with ancient sculpture. Giorgione had already dealt with the subject in his Dresden picture, finished by Titian, but here a purple drapery substituted for a landscape background changed, by its harmonious coloring, the whole meaning of the scene.

Titian had from the beginning of his career shown himself to be a masterful portrait-painter, in works like La Bella (Eleanora de Gonzaga, Duchess of Urbino, at the Pitti Palace). He painted the likenesses of princes, or Doges, cardinals or monks, and artists or writers. "...no other painter was so successful in extracting from each physiognomy so many traits at once characteristic and beautiful", according to the Catholic Encyclopedia. Among portrait-painters Titian is compared to Rembrandt and Velázquez, with the interior life of the former, and the clearness, certainty, and obviousness of the latter.

The last-named qualities are sufficiently manifested in the Portrait of Paul III of Naples, or the sketch of the same pope and his two nephews, the Portrait of Aretino of the Pitti Palace, the Eleanora of Portugal (Madrid), and the series of King Charles V of the same museum, the Charles V with a Greyhound (1533), and especially the Charles V at Mühlberg (1548), an equestrian picture which as a symphony of purples is perhaps the ne plus ultra of the art of painting.

In 1532 after painting a portrait of the emperor Charles V in Bologna he was made a Count Palatine and knight of the Golden Spur. His children were also made nobles of the Empire, which for a painter was an exceptional honor.

The Rape of Europa (1562) is a bold diagonal composition which was admired and copied by Rubens. In contrast to the clarity of Titian's early works, it is almost baroque in its blurred lines, swirling colors, and vibrant brushstrokes.

As a matter of professional and worldly success his position from about this time is regarded as equal only to that of Raphael, Michelangelo, and at a later date Rubens. In 1540 he received a pension from D'Avalos, marquis del Vasto, and an annuity of 200 crowns (which was afterwards doubled) from Charles V from the treasury of Milan.

Another source of profit, for he was always aware of money, was a contract obtained in 1542 for supplying grain to Cadore, where he visited almost every year and where he was both generous and influential.

Titian had a favorite villa on the neighboring Manza Hill (in front of the church of Castello Roganzuolo) from which (it may be inferred) he made his chief observations of landscape form and effect. The so-called Titian's mill, constantly discernible in his studies, is at Collontola, near Belluno.[18]

He visited Rome in 1546, and obtained the freedom of the city—his immediate predecessor in that honor having been Michelangelo in 1537. He could at the same time have succeeded the painter Sebastiano del Piombo in his lucrative office as holder of the piombo or Papal seal, and he was prepared to take holy orders for the purpose; but the project lapsed through his being summoned away from Venice in 1547 to paint Charles V and others in Augsburg. He was there again in 1550, and executed the portrait of Philip II which was sent to England and proved useful in Philip's suit for the hand of Queen Mary.

Final years

The Death of Actaeon. In Titian's later works, the forms lose their solidity and melt into the lush texture of shady, shimmering colors and unsettling atmospheric effects. In addition to energetic brushwork, Titian was said to put paint on with his fingers toward the completion of a painting.

During the last twenty-five years of his life (1550–1576) the artist worked mainly for Philip II and as a portrait-painter. He became more self-critical, an insatiable perfectionist, keeping some pictures in his studio for ten years, never wearying of returning to them and retouching them, constantly adding new expressions at once more refined, concise, and subtle. He also finished off many copies of earlier works of his by his pupils, giving rise to many problems of attribution and priority among versions of his works, which were also very widely copied and faked outside his studio, during his lifetime and afterwards.

For Philip II he painted a series of large mythological paintings known as the "poesie", mostly from Ovid, which are regarded as among his greatest works.[19] Thanks to the prudishness of Philip's successors, these were later mostly given as gifts and only two remain in the Prado. Titian was producing religious works for Philip at the same time. The "poesie" series began with Venus and Adonis, of which the original is in the Prado, but several versions exist, and Danaë, both sent to Philip in 1553.[20]Diana and Actaeon and Diana and Callisto, were despatched in 1559, then Perseus and Andromeda (Wallace Collection, now damaged) and the Rape of Europa (Boston, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum), delivered in 1562. The Death of Actaeon was begun in 1559 but worked on for many years, and never completed or delivered. [21] Another painting that apparently remained in his studio at his death, and has been much less well known until recent decades, is the powerful, even "repellant", Flaying of Marsyas (Kroměříž, Czech Republic)[22] Another violent masterpiece is the Tarquin and Lucretia in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.[23]

For each of the problems which he successively undertook he furnished a new and more perfect formula. He never again equaled the emotion and tragedy of the The Crowning with Throns (Louvre), in the expression of the mysterious and the divine he never equaled the poetry of the Pilgrims of Emmaus, while in superb and heroic brilliancy he never again executed anything more grand than The Doge Grimani adoring Faith (Venice, Doge's Palace), or the Trinity, of Madrid. On the other hand from the standpoint of flesh tints, his most moving pictures are those of his old age, such as the poesie and the Antiope of the Louvre, He even attempted problems of chiaroscuro in fantastic night effects (Martyrdom of St. Laurence, Church of the Jesuits, Venice; St. Jerome, Louvre; Crucifixion, Church of San Domenico, Ancona).

Titian had engaged his daughter Lavinia, the beautiful girl whom he loved deeply and painted various times, to Cornelio Sarcinelli of Serravalle. She had succeeded her aunt Orsa, then deceased, as the manager of the household, which, with the lordly income that Titian made by this time, placed her on a corresponding footing. The marriage took place in 1554. She died in childbirth in 1560.

Like numerous of his late works, Titian's last painting, the Pietà, is a dramatic scene of suffering in a nocturnal setting. It was apparently intended for his own tomb chapel.

He was at the Council of Trent towards 1555, of which there is a finished sketch in the Louvre. Titian's friend Aretino died suddenly in 1556, and another close intimate, the sculptor and architect Jacopo Sansovino, in 1570. In September 1565 Titian went to Cadore and designed the decorations for the church at Pieve, partly executed by his pupils. One of these is a Transfiguration, another an Annunciation (now in S. Salvatore, Venice), inscribed Titianus fecit, by way of protest (it is said) against the disparagement of some persons who cavilled at the veteran's failing handicraft.

He continued to accept commissions to the end of his life. He had selected as the place for his burial the chapel of the Crucifix in the Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, the church of the Franciscan Order; in return for a grave, he offered the Franciscans a picture of the Pietà, representing himself and his son Orazio before the Savior, another figure in the composition being a sibyl. This work he nearly finished, but some differences arose regarding it, and he then settled to be interred in his native Pieve.

Titian was (depending on his unknown birthdate—see above) probably in his late eighties when the plague raging in Venice took him on 27 August 1576. He was the only victim of the Venice plague to be given a church burial. He was interred in the Frari (Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari), as at first intended, and his Pietà was finished by Palma the Younger. He lies near his own famous painting, the Madonna di Ca' Pesaro. No memorial marked his grave, until much later the Austrian rulers of Venice commissioned Canova to provide the large monument.

Immediately after Titian's own death, his son and assistant Orazio died of the same epidemic. His sumptuous mansion was plundered during the plague by thieves.

Printmaking

Titian himself never attempted engraving, but he was very conscious of the importance of printmaking as a means of further expanding his reputation. In the period 1517–1520 he designed a number of woodcuts, including an enormous and impressive one of The Crossing of the Red Sea, and collaborated with Domenico Campagnola and others, who produced further prints based on his paintings and drawings. Much later he provided drawings based on his paintings to Cornelius Cort from the Netherlands who engraved them. Martino Rota followed Cort from about 1558 to 1568.[24]

Family

The Allegory of Age Governed by Prudence (c. 1565–1570) is thought to depict Titian, his son Orazio, and a young cousin, Marco Vecellio.

Several other artists of the Vecelli family followed in the wake of Titian. Francesco Vecellio, his elder brother, was introduced to painting by Titian (it is said at the age of twelve, but chronology will hardly admit of this), and painted in the church of S. Vito in Cadore a picture of the titular saint armed. This was a noteworthy performance, of which Titian (the usual story) became jealous; so Francesco was diverted from painting to soldiering, and afterwards to mercantile life.

Marco Vecellio, called Marco di Tiziano, Titian's nephew, born in 1545, was constantly with the master in his old age, and, learned his methods of work. He has left some able productions in the ducal palace, the Meeting of Charles V. and Clement VII. in 1529 ; in S. Giacomo di Rialto, an Annunciation ; in SS. Giovani e Paolo, Christ Fulminant. A son of Marco, named Tiziano (or Tizianello), painted early in the 17th century.

From a different branch of the family came Fabrizio di Ettore, a painter who died in 1580. His brother Cesare, who also left some pictures, is well known by his book of engraved costumes, Abiti antichi e moderni. Tommaso Vecelli, also a painter, died in 1620. There was another relative, Girolamo Dante, who, being a scholar and assistant of Titian, was called Girolamo di Tiziano. Various pictures of his were touched up by the master, and are difficult to distinguish from originals.

Few of the pupils and assistants of Titian became well-known in their own right; for some being his assistant was probably a lifetime career. Paris Bordone and Bonifazio Veronese were his assistants during at some point in their careers. Giulio Clovio said Titian employed El Greco (or Dominikos Theotokopoulos) in his last years.

Present day

The Flaying of Marsyas, little known until recent decades

Two of Titian's works in private hands have been up for sale. One of these works, Diana and Actaeon, was recently purchased by the London Gallery and the National Galleries of Scotland on February 2, 2009 for ₤50 million ($71 million). The galleries had until December 31, 2008 to make the purchase before the work would be offered to private collectors, but the deadline was extended. The other painting, Diana and Callisto, will be up for sale for the same amount until 2012 before it is offered to private collectors.

The sale has created controversy with politicians who said "the money, some of which came from government funds, could have been spent more wisely during a deepening recession." The Scottish government offered ₤12.5 million and ₤10 million came from the National Heritage Memorial Fund. The rest of the monies came from the National Galleries in London and from private donations.[25]

On February 11, 2009, an argument about Titian's age at death arose between British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and Leader of the Opposition David Cameron at Prime Minister's Questions, where Cameron was attempting to ridicule Brown's general factual accuracy. This debate spilt over onto Titian's entry on Wikipedia, when an editor from Conservative Party HQ altered Titian's dates to substantiate David Cameron's claim and then directed the BBC to the article for them to use as verification.[26] Cameron later apologized and said the staff member had been "disciplined".[27] The precise date of Titian's birth is uncertain (see above).

The reference was to Brown's comment on 30 January 2009 to the World Economic Forum in Davos:

This is the first financial crisis of the global age, and there is no clear map that has been set out from past experience to deal with it. I'm reminded of the story of Titian, who's the great painter who reached the age of 90, finished the last of his nearly 100 brilliant paintings, and he said at the end of it, "I'm finally beginning to learn how to paint", and that is where we are.[28]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ probably c. 1488/1490, Getty Union Artist Name List and Metropolitan Museum of Art timeline, retrieved February 11, 2009 both use c. 1488. See discussion of the issue below and at When Was Titian Born?, which sets out the evidence, and supports 1477 — an unusual view today. Gould (pp. 264-66) also sets out much of the evidence without coming to a conclusion. Charles Hope in Jaffé (p. 11) also discusses the issue, favoring a date "in or just before 1490" as opposed to the much earlier dates, as does Penny (p. 201) "probably in 1490 or a little earlier". The question has become caught up in the still controversial division of works between Giorgione and the young Titian.
  2. ^ Metropolitan Museum of Art timeline, retrieved February 11, 2009
  3. ^ Fossi, Gloria, Italian Art: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture from the Origins to the Present Day, p. 194. Giunti, 2000. ISBN 88-09-01771-4
  4. ^ The contours in early works may be described as "crisp and clear", while of his late methods it was said that "he painted more with his fingers than his brushes." Dunkerton, Jill, et al., Dürer to Veronese: Sixteenth-Century Painting in the National Gallery, p.281–286. Yale University, National Gallery Publications, 1999. ISBN 0-300-07220-1
  5. ^ Cecil Gould, The Sixteenth Century Italian Schools, National Gallery Catalogues, p. 265, London, 1975, ISBN 0947645225
  6. ^ When Was Titian Born?
  7. ^ See references above
  8. ^ a b David Jaffé (ed), Titian, The National Gallery Company/Yale, p. 11, London 2003, ISBN 1 857099036
  9. ^ Jaffé No. 1, pp. 74-75 image
  10. ^ Ecce Homo
  11. ^ Charles Hope, in Jaffé, pp. 11-14
  12. ^ Charles Hope, in Jaffé, p. 15
  13. ^ Charles Hope in Jaffé, p. 14
  14. ^ Charles Hope in Jaffé, pp. 16-17
  15. ^ Charles Hope, in Jaffé, p. 17 Engraving of the painting
  16. ^ Jaffé, pp. 100-111
  17. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia
  18. ^ R. F. Heath, Life of Titian, page 5.
  19. ^ Penny, 204
  20. ^ Museo del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, 1996, p. 402, Ministerio de Educación y Cultura, Madrid, ISBN 8487317537
  21. ^ Penny, 249-50
  22. ^ Giles Robertson, in: Jane Martineau (ed), The Genius of Venice, 1500-1600, pp. 231-3, 1983, Royal Academy of Arts, London
  23. ^ Robertson, pp. 229-230
  24. ^ Landau, 304-305, and in catalogue entries following. Much more detailed consideration is given at various points in: David Landau & Peter Parshall, The Renaissance Print, Yale, 1996, ISBN 0300068832
  25. ^ http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090202/en_nm/us_titian_2
  26. ^ "Tories Admit to Wiki-alteration". BBC News. 2009-02-11. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7884121.stm. Retrieved 2009-02-11.  See embedded film clip also.
  27. ^ Press Association/The Independent February 12, 2009
  28. ^ BBC, including film clip. Titian in fact painted well over 100 paintings; Terisio Pignatti's catalogue (Rizzoli, 1979, and in English translation) lists 646, though many of these will be workshop versions. Vasari said his works were "without number".

References

  • Jaffé, David (ed), Titian, The National Gallery Company/Yale, London 2003, ISBN 1 857099036
  • Gould, Cecil, The Sixteenth Century Italian Schools, National Gallery Catalogues, London 1975, ISBN 0947645225
  • Landau, David, in Jane Martineau (ed), The Genius of Venice, 1500-1600, 1983, Royal Academy of Arts, London.
  • Penny, Nicholas, National Gallery Catalogues (new series): The Sixteenth Century Italian Paintings, Volume II, Venice 1540-1600, 2008, National Gallery Publications Ltd, ISBN 1857099133
  • Ridolfi, Carlo (1594 - 1658); The Life of Titian, translated by Julia Conaway Bondanella and Peter E. Bondanella, Penn State Press, 1996, ISBN 0271016272, 9780271016276 Google Books

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

He who improvises can never make a perfect line of poetry.

Tiziano Vecelli or Vecellio (c. 1488-90 – 27 August 1576), better known as Titian, was the leader of the 16th-century Venetian school of the Italian Renaissance. He was born in Pieve di Cadore, in the Cadore territory, near Belluno (Veneto), in Italy, and died in Venice

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  • He who improvises can never make a perfect line of poetry.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

TITIAN (c. 1 4771 57 6). Tiziano Vecellio, or Vecelli, one of the greatest painters of the world, and in especial the typical representative of the Venetian school, was commonly called during his lifetime " Da Cadore," from the place of his birth, and has also been designated " Il Divino." The country of Cadore, in the Friuli, barren and poor, is watered by the Piave torrent poured forth from the Carnic Alps, and is at no great distance from Tirol. Titian, therefore, was not in any sense a Venetian of the lagoons and Adriatic, but was native to a country, and a range of association, perception and observation, of a directly different kind. Venice conquered Friuli at a date not very remote from the birth of Titian; and Cadore, having to choose between Venetian and imperial allegiance, declared for the former. Approaching the castle of Cadore from the village Sotto Castello, one passes on the right a cottage of humble pretensions, inscribed as Titian's birthplace; the precise locality is named Arsenale. The near mountain - all this range of hills being of dolomite formation - is called Marmarolo. At the neighbouring village of Valle was fought in Titian's lifetime the battle of Cadore, a Venetian victory which he recorded in a painting. In the 12th century the count of Camino became count also of Cadore. He was called Guecello; and this name descended in 1321 to the podesta (or mayor) of Cadore, of the same stock to which the painter belonged. Titian, one of a family of four, and son of Gregorio Vecelli, a distinguished councillor and soldier, and of his wife Lucia, was born in 1477. So it has very generally been stated; but of late years a subsequent date, 1489-1490, has been suggested, so as to make Titian, at the time of his death, not so singularly long-lived a man. As to this interesting point one should remember that Vasari in one passage (at variance with some others) says that Titian was born in 1480; while Titian himself, writing to Philip II. in 1571, professed to be ninety-five years old.

It used to be said that Titian, when a child, painted upon the wall of the Casa Sampieri, with flower-juice, a Madonna and Infant with a boy-angel; but modern connoisseurs say that the picture is a common work, of a date later than Titian's decease. He was still a child when sent by his parents to Venice, to an uncle's house. There he was placed under an art teacher, who may perhaps have been Sebastiano Zuccato, a mosaicist and painter now forgotten. He next became a pupil of Gentile Bellini, whom he left after a while, because the master considered him too offhand in work. Here he had the opportunity of studying many fine antiques. His last instructor was Giovanni Bellini; but Titian was not altogether satisfied with his tutoring. The youth was a contemporary of Giorgione and Palma Vecchio; when his period of pupilage expired, he is surmised to have entered into a sort of partnership with Giorgione. A fresco of " Hercules " on the Morosini Palace is said to have been one of his earliest works; others were the " Virgin and Child," in the Vienna Belvedere, and the " Visitation of Mary and Elizabeth " (from the convent of S. Andrea), now in the Venetian Academy. In1507-1508Giorgione was commissioned by the state to execute frescoes on the re-erected Fondaco de' Tedeschi. Titian and Morto da Feltre worked along with him, and some fragments of Titian's paintings, which are reputed to have surpassed Giorgione's, are still discernible. According to one account, Giorgione was nettled at this superiority, and denied Titian admittance to his house thenceforth. Stories of jealousies between painters are rife in all regions, and in none more than in the Venetian - various statements of this kind applying to Titian himself. One should neither accept nor reject them uninquiringly; counter-evidence of some weight can be cited for Vecelli's vindication in relation to Moroni, Correggio, Lotto and Coello. Towards 1511, after the cessation of the League of Cambraiwhich had endeavoured to shatter the power of the Venetian republic, and had at any rate succeeded in clipping the wings of the lion of St Mark - Vecelli went to Padua, and painted in the Scuola di S. Antonio a series of frescoes, which continue to be an object of high curiosity to the students of his genius, although they cannot be matched against his finest achievements in oil painting. Another fresco, dated 1523, is " St Christopher carrying the Infant Christ," at the foot of the doge's steps in the ducal palace of Venice. From Padua Titian in 1512 returned to Venice; and in 1513 he obtained a broker's patent in the Fondaco de' Tedeschi (state-warehouse for the German merchants), termed " La Sanseria " or " Senseria " (a privilege, much coveted by rising or risen artists), and became superintendent of the government works, being especially charged to complete the paintings left unfinished by Giovanni Bellini in the hall of the great council in the ducal palace. He set up an atelier on the Grand Canal, at S. Samuele - the precise site being now unknown. It was not until 1516, upon the death of Bellini, that he came into actual enjoyment of his patent, at the same date an arrangement for painting was entered into with Titian alone, to the exclusion of other artists who had heretofore been associated with him. The patent yielded him a good annuity-120 crowns - and exempted him from certain taxes - he being bound in return to paint likenesses of the successive doges of his time at the fixed price of eight crowns each. The actual number which he executed was five. Titian, it may be well to note as a landmark in this all but centenarian life of incessant artistic labour and productiveness, was now (if we adopt 1477 as the birth-date) in the fortieth year of his age. The same year, 1516, witnessed his first journey to Ferrara. Two 'years later was produced, for the high altar of the church of the Frari, one of his most world-renowned masterpieces, the " Assumption of the Madonna," now in the Venetian Academy. It excited a vast sensation, being indeed the most extraordinary piece of colourist execution on a great scale which Italy had yet seen. The signoria took note of the facts and did not fail to observe that Titian was neglecting his work in the hall of the great council.

Vecelli was now at the height of his fame; and towards 1521, following the production of a figure of " St Sebastian " for the papal legate in Brescia (a work of which there are numerous replicas), purchasers became extremely urgent for his productions. In 1525, after some irregular living and a consequent fever, he married a lady of whom only the Christian name, Cecilia, has come down to us; he hereby legitimized their first child, Pornponio, and two (or perhaps three) others followed. Towards 1526 he became acquainted, and soon exceedingly intimate, with Pietro Aretino, the literary bravo, of influence and audacity hitherto unexampled, who figures so strangely in the chronicles of the time. Titian sent a portrait of him to Gonzaga, duke of Mantua. A great affliction befell him in August 1J30 in the death of his wife. He then, with his three children - one of them being the infant Lavinia, whose birth had been fatal to the mother - removed to a new home and got his sister Orsa to come from Cadore and take charge of the household. The mansion, difficult now to find, is in the Biri Grande, then a fashionable suburb, being in the extreme end of Venice, on the sea, with beautiful gardens and a look-out towards Murano. In 1532 he painted in Bologna a portrait of the emperor Charles V., and was created a count palatine and knight of the Golden Spur, his children also being made nobles of the empire - for a painter, honours of an unexampled kind.

The Venetian government, dissatisfied at Titian's neglect of the work for the ducal palace, ordered him in 1 538 to refund the money which he had received for time unemployed; and Pordenone, his formidable rival of recent years, was installed in his place. At the end of a year, however, Pordenone died; and Titian, who had meanwhile applied himself diligently to painting in the hall the battle of Cadore, was reinstated. This great picture, which was burned with several others in 1577, represented in life-size the moment at which the Venetian captain, D'Alviano, fronted the enemy, with horses and men crashing down into the stream. Fontana's engraving, and a sketch by Titian himself in the gallery of the Uffizi in Florence, record the energetic composition. As a matter of professional and worldly success, his position from about this time may be regarded as higher than that of any other painter known to history, except Raphael, Michelangelo, and at a later date Rubens. In 1540 he received a pension from D'Avalos, marquis del Vasto, and an annuity of 200 crowns (which was afterwards doubled) from Charles V. on the treasury of Milan. Another source of profit - for he was always sufficiently keen after money - was a contract, obtained in 1542, for supplying grain to Cadore, which he visited with regularity almost every year, and where he was both generous and influential. This reminds us of Shakespeare and his relations to his birthplace, Stratford-on-Avon; and indeed the great Venetian and the still greater Englishman had something akin in the essentially natural tone of their inspiration and performance, and in the personal tendency of each to look after practical success and " the main chance " rather than to work out aspirations and pursue ideals. Titian had a favourite villa on the neighbouring Manza Hill, from which (it may be inferred) he made his chief observations of landscape form and effect. The so-called " Titian's mill," constantly discernible in his studies, is at Collontola, near Belluno (see R. F. Heath's Life of Titian, p. 5). A visit was paid to Rome in 1546, when he obtained the freedom of the city, his immediate predecessor in that honour having been Michelangelo in 1537. He could at the same time have succeeded the painter Fra Sebastiano in his lucrative office of the piombo, and he made no scruple of becoming a friar for the purpose; but this project lapsed through his being summoned away from Venice in 1547 to paint Charles V. and others, in Augsburg. He was there again in i 550, and executed the portrait of Philip II., which was sent to England and proved a potent auxiliary in the suit of the prince for the hand of Queen Mary. In the preceding year Vecelli had affianced his daughter Lavinia, the beautiful girl whom he loved deeply and painted various times, to Cornelio Sarcinelli of Serravalle; she had succeeded her aunt Orsa, now deceased, as the manager of the household, which, with the lordly income that Titian made by this time, was placed on a corresponding footing. The marriage took place in 1554. She died in childbirth in 1560. The years 1551 and 1552 were among those in which Titian worked least assiduously - a circumstance which need excite no surprise in the case of a man aged about seventy-five. He was at the Council of Trent towards 1555, of which his admirable picture or finished sketch in the Louvre bears record. He was never in Spain, notwithstanding the many statements which have been made in the affirmative. Titian's friend Aretino died suddenly in 1556, and another close intimate, the sculptor and architect Jacopo Sansovino, in 1570. With his European fame, and many sources of wealth, Vecelli is the last man one would suppose to have been under the necessity of writing querulous and dunning letters for payment, especially when the defaulter addressed was lord of Spain and of the American Indies; yet he had constantly to complain that his pictures remained unpaid for and his pensions in arrear, and in the very year of his death (February) he recites the many pictures which he had sent within the preceding twenty years without receiving their price. In fact, there is ground for thinking that all his pensions and privileges, large as they were nominally, brought in but precarious returns. It has been pointed out that in the summer of 1566 (when he was elected into the Florentine Academy) he made an official declaration of his income, and put down the various items apparently below their value, not naming at all his salary or pensions. Possibly there was but too much reason for the omission.

In September 1565 Titian went to Cadore and designed the decorations for the church at Pieve, partly executed by his pupils. One of these is a Transfiguration, another an Annunciation (now in S. Salvatore, Venice), inscribed " Titianus fecit," by way of protest (it is said) against the disparagement of some persons who cavilled at the veteran's failing handicraft. He continued to accept commissions to the last. He had selected as the place for his burial the chapel of the Crucifix in the church of the Fran; and, in return for a grave, he offered the Franciscans a picture of the " Pieta," representing himself and his son Orazio before the Saviour, another figure in the composition being a sibyl. This work he nearly finished; but some differences arose regarding it, and he then settled to be interred in his native Pieve. Titian was ninety-nine years of age (more or less) when the plague,' which was then raging in Venice, seized him, and carried him off on the 27th of August 1576. He was buried in the church of the Frari, as at first intended, and his " Pieta " was finished by Palma Giovane. He lies near his own famous painting, the " Madonna di Casa Pesaro." No memorial marked his grave, until by Austrian command Canova executed the monument so well known to sightseers. Immediately after Titian's own death, his son and pictorial assistant Orazio died of the same epidemic. His sumptuous mansion was plundered during the plague by thieves, who prowled about, scarce controlled.

Titian was a man of correct features and handsome person, with an uncommon air of penetrating observation and self-possessed composure - a Venetian presence worthy to pair with any of those ' ` most potent, grave and reverend signors " whom his pencil has transmitted to posterity. He was highly distinguished, courteous and winning in society, personally unassuming, and a fine speaker, enjoying (as is said by Vasari, who saw him in the spring of 1566) health and prosperity unequalled. The numerous heads currently named Titian's Mistress might dispose us to regard the painter as a man of more than usually relaxed morals; the fact is, however, that these titles are mere fancy-names, and no inference one way or the other can be drawn from them. He gave splendid entertainments at times; and it is related that, when Henry III. of France passed through Venice on his way from Poland to take the French throne, he called on Titian with a train of nobles, and the painter presented him as a gift with all the pictures of which he inquired the price. He was not a man of universal genius or varied faculty and accomplishment, like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo; his one great and supreme endowment was that of painting.

Ever since Titian rose into celebrity the general verdict has been that he is the greatest of painters, considered technically. In the first place neither the method of fresco painting nor work of the colossal scale to which fresco painting ministers is here in question. Titian's province is that of oil painting, and of painting on a scale which, though often large and grand, is not colossal either in dimension or in inspiration. Titian may properly be regarded as the greatest manipulator of paint in relation to colour, tone, luminosity, richness, texture, surface and harmony, and with a view to the production of a pictorial whole conveying to the eye a true, dignified and beautiful impression of its general subjectmatter and of the objects of sense which form its constituent parts. In this sense Titian has never been deposed from his sovereignty in painting, nor can one forecast the time in which he will be deposed. For the complex of qualities which we sum up in the words colour, handling and general force and harmony of effect, he stands unmatched, although in particular items of forcible or impressive execution - not to speak of creative invention - some painters, one in one respect and another in another, may indisputably be preferred to him. He carried to its acme that great colourist conception of the Venetian school of which the first masterpieces are due to the two Bellini, to Carpaccio, and, with more fully developed suavity of manner, to Giorgione. Pre-eminent inventive power or sublimity 1 Out of a total population of 190,000 there perished at this time 50,000.

of intellect he never evinced. Even in energy of action and more especially in majesty or affluence of composition the palm is not his; it is (so far as concerns the Venetian school) assignable to Tintoretto. Titian is a painter who by wondrous magic of genius and of art satisfies the eye, and through the eye the feelings - sometimes the mind.

Titian's pictures abound with memories of his home-country and of the region which led from the hill-summits of Cadore to the queen-city of the Adriatic. He was almost the first painter to exhibit an appreciation of mountains, mainly those of a turreted type, exemplified in the Dolomites. Indeed he gave to landscape generally a new and original vitality, expressing the quality of the objects of nature and their control over the sentiments and imagination with a force that had never before been approached. The earliest Italian picture expressly designated as " landscape " was one which Vecelli sent in 1552 to Philip II. His productive faculty was immense, even when we allow for the abnormal length of his professional career. In Italy, England and elsewhere more than a thousand pictures figure as Titian's; of these about 250 may be regarded as dubious or spurious. There are, for instance, 6 pictures in the National Gallery, London, 18 in the Louvre, 16 in the Pitti, 18 in the Uffizi, 7 in the Naples Museum, 8 in the Venetian Academy (besides the series in the private meeting-hall) and 41 in the Madrid Museum. In the National Gallery 3 other works used to be assigned to Titian, but are now regarded rather as examples of his school.

Naturally a good deal of attention has been given by artists, connoisseurs and experts to probing the secret of how Titian managed to obtain such astonishing results in colour and surface. The upshot of this research is but meagre; the secret seems to be not so much one of workmanship as of faculty. His figures were put in with the brush dipped in a brown solution, and then altered and worked up as his intention developed. The later pictures were touched off rapidly, telling well from a distant view. He himself averred that after his visit to Rome in 1546 he had greatly improved in art; and in his very last days he said - certainly with the modesty of genius, perhaps also with some of the tenacity of old age - that he was then beginning to understand what painting meant. In his earlier pictures the gamut of colour rests mainly upon red and green, in the later ones upon deep yellow and blue. The pigments which he used were nothing unusual; indeed they were both few and common. Palma Giovane records that Vecelli would set pictures aside for months, and afterwards, examining them with a stern countenance, as if they were his mortal enemies, would set to work upon them like a man possessed; also that he kept many pictures in progress at the same time, turning from one to the other, and that in his final operations he worked far more with finger than with brush. It has been said, and probably with truth, that he tried to emulate Palma Vecchio in softness as well as Giorgione in richness. Michelangelo's verdict after inspecting the picture of " Danae in the Rain of Gold," executed in 1546, has often been quoted. He said, " That man would have had no equal if art had done as much for him as nature." He was thinking principally of severity and majesty of draughtsmanship, for he added, " Pity that in Venice they don't learn how to draw well." As a draughtsman of the human figure Titian was not only competent but good and fine, and he is reported to have studied anatomy deeply; but one can easily understand that he fell not a little short of the standard of Michelangelo, and even of other leading Florentines. He was wont to paint in a nude figure with Venetian red, supplemented by a little lake in the contour and towards the extremities. He observed that a colourist ought to manipulate white, black and red, and that the carnations cannot be done in a first painting, but by replicating various tints and mingling the colours. He distanced all predecessors in the study of colour as applied to draperies - working on the principle (in which Giorgione may perhaps have forestalled him) that red comes forward to the eye, yellow retains the rays of light, and blue assimilates to shadow. In his subject-pictures the figures are not very numerous, and the attitudes are mostly reserved; even in bacchanals or battles the athletic display has more of facility than of furor. His architectural scenes were sometimes executed by other persons, especially the Rosas of Brescia. The glow of late afternoon, or the passionate ardour of early sundown, was much affected by Titian in the lighting of his pictures. Generally it may be said that he took great pains in completing his works, and pains also in concealing the traces of labour. He appears to have had little liking for teaching, partly from distaste of the trouble, and partly (if we are to believe biographers) from jealousy. He was quite willing, however, to turn to some account the work of his scholars: it is related that on going out of doors he would leave his studio open, so that the pupils had a clandestine opportunity of copying his works, and if the copies proved of saleable quality he would buy them cheap, touch them up, and resell them.

Titian's family relations appear to have been happy, except as regards his eldest son, Pomponio. This youth, at the age of six, was launched upon the ecclesiastical career; but he proved wasteful and worthless, and Titian at last got so disgusted with him that he obtained the transfer to a nephew of a benefice destined for Pomponio. The fortune which he left was, after his decease, squandered by the tonsured prodigal. The other son, Orazio, born Xxvi. 33 towards 1528, who (as we have seen) assisted Titian professionally, became a portrait-painter of mark - some of his likenesses, almost comparable with Titian's own, being often confounded with his by owners and connoisseurs. He executed an important picture in the hall of the great council, destroyed by fire. He gave to alchemy some of the time which might have been bestowed upon painting. Several other artists of the Vecelli family followed, in the wake of Titian. Francesco Vecelli, his elder brother, was introduced to painting by Titian (it is said at the age of twelve, but chronology will hardly admit of this), and painted in the church of S. Vito in Cadore a picture of the titular saint armed. This was a noteworthy performance, of which Titian (the usual story) became jealous; so Francesco was diverted from painting to soldiering, and afterwards to mercantile life. Marco Vecelli, called Marco di Tiziano, Titian's nephew, born in 1545, was constantly with the master in his old age, and learned his methods of work. He has left some able productions - in the ducal palace, the " Meeting of Charles V. and Clement VII. in 1529 "; in S. Giacomo di Rialto, an " Annunciation "; in SS. Giovani e Paolo, " Christ Fulminant." A son of Marco, named Tiziano (or Tizianello), painted early in the 17th century. From a different branch of the family came Fabrizio di Ettore, a painter who died in 1580. His brother Cesare, who also left some pictures, is well known by his book of engraved costumes, Abiti antichi e moderni. Tommaso Vecelli, also a painter, died in 1620. There was another relative, Girolamo Dante, who, being a scholar and assistant of Titian, was called Girolamo di Tiziano. Various pictures of his were touched up by the master, and are difficult to distinguish from originals. Apart from members of his family, the scholars of Titian were not numerous; Paris Bordone and Bonifazio were the two of superior excellence. El Greco (or Domenico Theotocopuli) was employed by the master to engrave from his works. It is said that Titian himself engraved on copper and on wood, but this may well be questioned.

We must now briefly advert to Titian's individual works, taking them in approximate order of time, and merely dividing portraits from other pictures. Details already given indicate that he did not exhibit any extreme precocity; the earliest works which we proceed to mention may date towards 1505. In the chapel of S. Rocco, Venice, is his " Christ Carrying the Cross," now greatly dilapidated; it was an object of so much popular devotion as to produce offerings which formed the first funds for building the Scuola di S. Rocco: in the scuolo itself is his " Man of Sorrows." The nobly beautiful picture in the Villa Borghese in Rome, commonly named " Divine and Human Love " (by some, " Artless and Sated Love "), bears some obvious relation to the style of Palma Vecchio. The story goes that Titian was enamoured of Palma's daughter; but nothing distinct on this point is forthcoming. The " Tribute Money " (" Christ and the Pharisee "), now in the Dresden Gallery, dated towards 1508; Titian is said to have painted this highly finished yet not " niggling " picture in order to prove to some Germans that the effect of detail could be produced without those extreme minutiae which mark the style of Albert Diirer. The St Mark in the church of the Salute - the evangelist enthroned, along with SS. Sebastian, Roch, Cosmo and Damian - a picture much in the style of Giorgione, belongs to 1512. Towards 1518 was painted, also in the same class of style, the " Three Ages," now in Bridgewater House - a woman guiding the fingers of a shepherd on a reed-pipe, two sleeping children, a cupid, an old man with two skulls, and a second shepherd in the distance - one of the most poetically impressive among all Titian's works. Another work of approximate date was the " Worship of Venus," in the Madrid Museum, showing a statue of Venus, two nymphs, numerous cupids hunting a hare, and other figures. Two of the pictures in the National Gallery, London - the " Holy Family and St Catherine " and the " Noli me tangere " - were going on at much the same time as the great " Assumption of the Madonna." In 1521 Vecelli finished a painting which had long been due to Duke Alphonso of Ferrara, probably the " Bacchanal," with Ariadne dozing over her wine-cup, which is now in Madrid. The famous " Bacchus and Ariadne " in the National Gallery was produced for the same patron in 1523. The " Flora " of the Uffizi, the " Venus " of Darmstadt, and the lovely " Venus Anadyomene " of the Bridgewater Gallery may date a year or so earlier. Another work of 1523 is the stupendous " Entombment of Christ " in the Louvre, whose depth of colour and of shadow stands as the pictorial equivalent of individual facial expression; the same composition, a less admirable work, appears in the Manfrini Gallery. The Louvre picture comes from the Gonzaga collection and from the gallery of Charles I. in Whitehall. In 1530 Titian completed the " St Peter Martyr " for the church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo; for this work he bore off the prize in competition with Palma Vecchio and Pordenone. Of all his pictures this was the most daring in design of action, while it yielded to none in general power of workmanship and of feeling. It showed the influence of Michelangelo, who was in Venice while Vecelli was engaged upon it. A calamitous fire destroyed it in 1867; the copy of it which has taken its place is the handiwork of Cardi da Cigoli. To 1530 belongs also the " Madonna del Coniglio " (Louvre), painted for Gonzaga; to 1536 the " Venus of Florence "; to 1538 the portraits of the " Twelve Caesars," for Gonzaga; and to 1539 the " Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple " - one of the conspicuous examples in the Venetian Academy, yet not of the first interest or importance. About 1540 were done the forcible but rather uninspired paintings for S. Spirito, Venice, now in the church of the Salute - " Cain Killing Abel," the " Sacrifice of Abraham " and " David and Goliath "; in 1543 the" Ecce Homo " of the Vienna Gallery, where Aretino figures as Pilate. The " Venus and Cupid " of Florence, the " Venus " of Madrid and the " Supper of .Emmaus " in the Louvre were still in hand, or just completed, when Titian was summoned to Augsburg in 1547. In 1554 he sent to Philip II. in England a second " Danae " and a ". Venus and Adonis." About the same time he sent to Charles V. a " Trinity " (or, as Titian himself termed it, " Last Judgment "), which represented the emperor, with his family and others, all in shrouds, praying to the Godhead; Moses and various other personages are also portrayed. This was the object upon which Charles continued to keep his eyes fixed until the film of death closed on them. Later pictures, from 1558 onwards, are the " Martyrdom of St Lawrence," " Christ Crowned with Thorns " (Louvre), " Diana and Actaeon," " Diana and Callisto," " Jupiter and Antiope," the " Magdalene," " Christ in the Garden," and " Europa " - the last six for Philip II.; of the two Diana subjects there are duplicates in London and in Vienna. Philip, it will be observed, was equally au fait with nudities and with sanctities. The " Jupiter and Antiope," now much restored, is commonly called " La Venus del Pardo," having at first been in the Pardo Palace. The " Magdalene " here spoken of (1561) seems to be the picture now in the Uffizi of Florence; Titian, in one of his letters, said that it was the most popular picture he had ever painted. In 1563 Vecelli offered to Philip II. his " Last Supper," which had been in hand for six years; it was cut down in the Escorial to suit a particular space, and offers now little noticeable beyond the fine grouping. The " St Jerome " of the Brera Gallery in Milan, a work of wonderful energy, spirit and force, especially for a more than octogenarian hand, was probably rather earlier than this; there is a replica of it in the Escorial. One of the master's latest pictures (1574-1575) is in Madrid, and commemorates the " Battle of Lepanto "; it is a work of failing power - but still the power of a Titian. Two of the mosaics in St Mark's church, Venice - the Mark in pontificals and the sword-sheathing angel on the right of the high altar - are after Vecelli's designs; but they are contrary to the true spirit of mosaic work, and the Mark in especial is a decided eyesore.

We now turn to the portraits - works so great in style, so stately, and in the best sense so simple in perception and feeling that, after allowing everything which can be said on behalf of some other masters of the craft, such as Raphael, Velazquez, Rubens and Rembrandt, one is still compelled to say that Titian stands on the whole supreme. Among the highest examples are - Alphonso, duke of Ferrara (Madrid), the same duke and his second wife Laura Dianti (Louvre), commonly called " Titian and his Mistress "; Francis I. (Louvre), painted towards 1536, but not from direct sittings, for Titian never saw the French king; various likenesses of himself, one of about 1542, and another of 1562; Paul III., also the same pope with his grandsons Cardinal Alessandro and duke Ottavio (Naples) - the former, done in about four weeks, was presented to the pontiff in May 1543 and cost two gold ducats; Pietro Aretino (Pitti); Titian's daughter Lavinia (with a fan in the Dresden Gallery, with a jewelled casket in Lord Cowper's collection); the Cornaro Family (Alnwick Castle); " L'Homme au Gant " (Louvre), an unknown personage, youthful and handsome, the ne plus ultra of portraiture; Sansovino Eleonora duchess of Urbino, Francesco duke of Urbino, Caterina Cornaro queen of Cyprus (these four are in the Uffizi); Charles V. on horseback (Madrid); Cardinal Bembo (Naples), discovered in an uncared-for condition in 1878, very unlike the portrait in the Barberini Gallery. The female portraits done by Titian are few, and are almost invariably of women of exalted rank. Of Ariosto, with whom Titian was intimate in Ferrara, though there may probably have been nothing approaching to a romantic friendship between them, the painter is said to have done three portraits. Much uncertainty, however, besets this matter. One of the three appears as a woodcut in an edition of the Orlando furioso. A second, formerly at Cobham Hall, corresponds with the woodcut likeness, and is signed " Titianus F. " - a work of admirable beauty; it is now in the National Gallery of London. It is difficult, however, to reconcile the features here with those which appear in some other portraits of Ariosto. There is also in the gallery another and singularly beautiful portrait which used to be called " Ariosto " by Titian, then was assumed to be an " Unknown Poet " by Palma Vecchio; it is now again attributed to Titian, but not as representing Ariosto.

Authorities. - For English readers, the Life and Times of Titian by Crowe and Cavalcaselle (1877) superseded all previous works, such as those of Sir Abraham Hume (1829) and Northcote (1830). There is now also the translation (1904) of the monumental German work (1900) by George Gronau, which may be regarded as taking the first place of all. Claude Phillips has brought out two valuable books (1897 and 1898) on the earlier and the later work of Titian, which should be consulted on controversial details. Josiah Gilbert's book, Cadore, or Titian's Country (1869), supplies many interesting side-lights on the subject. R. F. Heath's monograph (1885) is founded mainly on Crowe and Cavalcaselle and on Gilbert, and forms a very convenient compendium. (W. M. R.)


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Wiktionary

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English

Proper noun

Singular
Titian

Plural
-

Titian

  1. A sixteenth century Italian painter, Tiziano Vecelli.

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