Saturday, November 19, 2016


Tiziano Vecelli, known in English as Titian, was the leading Venetian artist of the sixteenth century. He was dubbed "a sun amidst small stars". The date of his birth is unknown, but it was sometime around 1488; he died in 1576. That's a self-portrait of 1565 above.

Man in a Red Hat, c 1510.

Portrait of a Young Man, c. 1510, a striking work I can't remember ever seeing before today.

Judith, detail, c. 1515. Note this face, because it reappears again and again over the next thirty years. I am not sure if it was based on one real woman he remembered, if he imagined it, or if he kept hiring models with the same face.

The Assumption of the Virgin, 1516-1518.

Federico II Gonzaga, c. 1525, detail. There are a staggering number of paintings in the world signed with Titian's name, including several scenes that he painted three or four times. Much of this work looks, to me, unworthy of the man who created these masterpieces. (No bad stuff here; we have standards.) We know that once he got famous Titian headed a studio with several assistants, and looking at some of his studio's work I have to think that he didn't exercise nearly the control that (for example) Bernini did.

Gorgio Carnaro with a Falcon, c. 1526.

Pesaro Madonna, 1519-1526. Titian painted (or signed anyway) enough religious frescoes to fill half a dozen churches, most of which don't impress me. This one is famous because of Titian's use of color, which other painters found fascinating.

Woman in a Fur Coat, detail.

Isabella d'Este, c. 1535. Lovely painting but Isabella was actually 60 years old when it was painted, and it looks quite different from other portraits of Isabella (see here).

The Venus of Urbino, 1538.

Doge Andrea Gritti, 1530s.

Equestrian portrait of Emperor Charles V, 1548. Titian met the emperor in Bologna in 1530 and executed a full-length portrait of him that Charles loved; sadly it does not survive. From that time he was the semi-official painter for Charles and then his son Philip II. Charles V ruled Austria, the Low Countries, most of Italy, Spain, and Spain's world-spanning empire; but once when the Charles was visiting Titian's studio the artist dropped his brush, and the emperor bent to pick it up. They loved telling gestures in the Renaissance, so the incident became very famous.

Elector John I of Saxony, 1548.

Danae, 1553, the first and best of a whole series depicting the same scene.

Portrait of a Lady, c 1555.

Allegory of Wisdom in Age, c. 1570, said to be a triple portrait of Titian (left), his son and his nephew.

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