AKA Tiziano Vecellio
Birthplace: Pieve di Cadore, Venice, Italy
Location of death: Venice, Italy
Cause of death: Bubonic Plague
Remains: Buried, Iglesia de Santa María Gloriosa dei Frari, Venice, Italy
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Executive summary: 16th c. Venetian Renaissance painter
Titian, born Tiziano Vecellio, or Vecelli, one of the greatest painters of the world, and in particular 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 neighboring 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 podestà (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, 1489-90, 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 Giorgio 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 Jacopo Palma; 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. In 1507-08 Giorgione 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 from that point. 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 Cambrai which had endeavored 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 labor and productiveness, was now (if we adopt 1477 as the birthdate) 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 colorist 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, Pomponio, 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 1530 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, honors of an unexampled kind.
The Venetian government, dissatisfied at Titian's neglect of the work for the ducal palace, ordered him in 1538 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 hail 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 William 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 favorite villa on the neighboring 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. A visit was paid to Rome in 1546, when he 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 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 1550, 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 Sarcineffi 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 Frari; and, 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 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 "Pietà" 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 Antonio 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 Henri 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 color, 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 subject matter 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 color, 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 colorist 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 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, hut 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 color 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 color 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 Jacopo Palma 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 colorist 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 colors. He distanced all predecessors in the study of color 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 ardor 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 labor. 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 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 tbe 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 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 Jacopo Palma. The story goes that Titian was enamored 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 Albrecht Dürer. 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" -- 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 Verus, 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 Uflizi, 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 color 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 Paulo; for this work he bore off the prize in competition with Jacopo Palma 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; Muses 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 Vénus 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 (1574-75) 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 particular 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, Velázquez, 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 Jacopo Palma; it is now again attributed to Titian, but not as representing Ariosto.
Father: Gregorio di Conte dei Vecelli (minor official)
Brother: Francesco Vecelli (older)
Wife: Cecilia (m. 1525, d. 1530)
Son: Pomponio (priest, b. 1524)
Son: Orazio (b. 1525)
Daughter: Lavinia (b. 1529)
Do you know something we don't?
Submit a correction or make a comment about this profile
Copyright ©2013 Soylent Communications