TitianTiziano Vecellio (Titian also used the forms Titiano, Tizian, Tician, Ticiano, Titianus and Ticianus in his signatures) came from Pieve di Cadore in the Dolomites, where his father was superintendent of the castle and supervisor of mines. His date of birth has long been controversial: there is documentary evidence to support a series of dates from 1473, but most recent opinion favours one close to 1490. According to Dolce (1557), he was sent to Venice at the age of nine with his brother Francesco to study painting, and was trained successively by the Zuccati (who were painters and mosaicists), Gentile Bellini, Giovanni Bellini and Giorgione. In 1508 he worked with Giorgione on the frescoes (only detached fragments of which survive) on the façade of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi, and he seems to have finished some of Giorgione’s pictures (such as the Dresden Venus) after Giorgione’s early death in 1510. Some pictures (such as the Fête Champêtre in the Louvre, the Concert in the Pitti and the Christ and the Adulteress in Glasgow) that were traditionally attributed to Giorgione are now given to the young Titian or still disputed between Giorgione and Titian.
By 1514 Titian had his own workshop at San Samuele. In 1516 he succeeded Giovanni Bellini as Painter to the Republic, and the completion in May 1518 of the revolutionary Assumption for the high altar of the Frari confirmed his reputation as the leading painter in Venice. He retained this position for the rest of his very long career, undertaking not only major commissions in Venice but increasingly working for courtly patrons elsewhere (who paid better). From 1516 he started working for Alfonso d’Este, Duke of Ferrara, and from 1523 for Federico Gonzaga, Marquis (later Duke) of Mantua. From 1527 his career was promoted by the notorious writer Pietro Aretino (1492-1556), whose published letters contain over two hundred references to him and are a rich source of information on his life and works. In 1533 he became Court Painter to Charles V, who created him Court Palatine and Knight of the Golden Spur. He also worked for Francesco Maria della Rovere in the 1530s, and for Pope Paul III and other members of the Farnese family in the 1540s, visiting Rome in 1545-46 and staying at the Imperial court at Augsburg in 1548 and 1550-51. Charles V’s successor, Philip II of Spain, became his principal patron from the mid-1550s. In pensions alone, he could count on an annual income of seven hundred crowns (four hundred from Spain and three hundred from the Signori of Venice).
As he got older, his technique became much looser, almost anticipating Impressionism in its disregard for contours and its representation of form as patterns of colour and light, and the mood of his pictures became more tragic and violent. Contemporaries describe his use of ‘large brushes almost like brooms’ and his working of the paint with his fingers. There has been much debate over whether – and to what extent – such extremely freely painted, almost monochromatic very late works as the Death of Actaeon in London, the Munich Mocking of Christ and the Flaying of Marsyas in Kromeríz may be unfinished. There was criticism of the ageing painter’s failing powers (the art dealer Niccolò Stroppio maliciously claimed that ‘he no longer sees what he is doing and his hand trembles so much that he cannot finish anything’). But the demand for his pictures remained high, and Philip of Spain in particular continued to support him with important commissions.
Titian died of the plague on 27 August 1576 and was buried in the Frari (where his supposed tomb is now marked by a massive neo-classical monument erected in 1852). There are probably more pictures attributed to him than any other sixteenth-century artist. He frequently repeated his own compositions, often after a long interval of time, and Ridolfi reported that he was in the habit of touching up studio copies of his originals, which he passed off as his own work. These replicas are rarely exact reproductions, but usually add or eliminate certain figures or objects. In quality, some stand comparison with the originals, while others fall far short. Titian’s well-organised studio at Biri Grande, on the northern edge of the city, included his favourite son Orazio (1525-76), a third cousin Cesare Vecellio (1521-1601), a second cousin Marco Vecellio (1545-1611), and the faithful Girolamo Dente (c.1510-70), who served Titian for over forty years and whose skill at copying is mentioned by Vasari. Unlike the workshops of his Venetian contemporaries Tintoretto, Veronese and Bassano, which were kept going for many years by the artists’ heirs, Titian’s studio closed quite soon after his death. Orazio died of the plague just four days after his father, the studio was ransacked, and the building and remaining contents were sold off in 1581 by the oldest, scapegrace son Pomponio.
Ajaccio (Corsica). Musée Fesch.
Portrait of a Young Man. Canvas, 88 x 73.
Related in general composition to the famous Portrait of a Man with a Glove in the Louvre. Like the Man with the Glove, it was among the hundred or so pictures sold by the German banker Everhard Jabach to Louis XIV, in whose collection it was listed (by Le Brun in 1683) merely as ‘in the manner of Giorgione’. The picture has tended to be overlooked because of its poor (and rather dirty) condition. The attribution to Titian has sometimes been doubted (eg. by Wethey, who tentatively proposed Cariani in his 1971 monograph), but is accepted unreservedly in Pedrocco’s 2001 Complete Paintings. On loan from the Louvre since 1956.
Alnwick Castle (Northumberland).
Portrait of Georges d’Armagnac and His Secretary. Canvas, 104 x 114.
Georges d’Armagnac, Bishop of Rodez, was French ambassador to Venice from 1536 to 1539, when this portrait was presumably painted. His secretary was Guillaume Philandrier (a pupil of the architect Serlio). The picture – one of the first by Titian to come to England – was acquired in France by the Duke of Buckingham in 1624. It was apparently appropriated by the Earl of Northumberland after Buckingham’s pictures were confiscated during the Civil War, and it has remained at Alnwick since 1671. Van Dyck, who would have known the picture when it was in the Duke of Buckingham's collection, adapted the figure composition for his double portrait Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, and Sir Philip Mainwaring (Trustees of Countess Fitzwilliam).
*Gozzi Altarpiece. Wood, 320 x 206.
The earliest picture by Titian bearing his signature and a date (1520). As also stated on the cartellino, the patron was one 'Aloyxius Gozius' (Alvise Gozzi), who was a merchant based in Ancona but born in Ragusa (Dubrovnik). The kneeling donor is shown a vision of the Virgin by a saint identified either as Louis, his name saint, or more plausibly as Blaise, the patron saint of Ragusa. St Francis stands on the left. In the background is a view of the Piazzetta di San Marco as seen from across the lagoon. The composition appears to have been inspired by Raphael's Madonna of Foligno, painted in 1511-12 for the church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli in Rome and now in the Vatican Pinacoteca. It is unclear, however, how Titian would have known of Raphael's altarpiece. Titian's picture was originally over the high altar of the church of San Francesco ad Alto (now deconsecrated). It was presumably painted in Venice and shipped to Ancona along the Adriatic coast. It remained in the church of San Francesco until 1864, when it was moved to San Domenico. It was transferred to the Pinacoteca in 1928. It is thought that the picture was originally rectangular and was given its present arched top in 1703. Otherwise in good condition for a picture of its size and date (restored in 1952 and 1987).
Ancona. San Domenico.
*Crucifixion. Canvas, 375 x 197.
Described by Vasari: ‘For the high altar of San Domenico in Ancona [Titian] painted an altarpiece with Christ on the cross, and at the foot the beautifully executed figures of Our Lady, St John and St Dominic; this work was in his later style, painted with patches of colour’. Signed and dated 1558 on the foot of the cross. Placed above the high altar of the sanctuary on 12 July 1558. The altar was then under the patronage of the Cornovi della Vecchia, a rich merchant family who, a year or two later, commissioned an Annunciation by Titian for their family shrine in San Salvatore in Venice. From 1884 to 1925 the picture was in the Pinacoteca of Ancona. In 1972, when San Domenico was damaged by an earthquake, the picture was again moved to the Pinacoteca, but it has since been returned to the church.
Antwerp. Musée des Beaux-Arts.
*Jacopo Pesaro presented to St Peter by Alexander VI. Canvas, 145 x 183.
Signed on the tablet, with the Italian inscription: ‘Portrait of one of the House of Pesaro in Venice who was made general of the Holy Church’. The sea battle in the background alludes to the victory won by Jacopo Pesaro, Bishop of Paphos in Cyprus and commander of the papal fleet, against the Turks at Santa Maura (the Greek island of Levkás) in 1502. The reliefs on St Peter's throne appear to depict Venus, who is said to have been born in the sea foam off the coast of Paphos. A steel helmet, souvenir of the sea battle, is placed on the tiles in the centre foreground. Titian portrayed Jacopo Pesaro again in the monumental Pesaro Madonna of 1519-26 in the Frari. There has been considerable disagreement over dating the Antwerp picture. Once regarded as the earliest surviving Titian, dating from the early 1500s, more recent opinion usually places it around 1508-12. Some critics have argued that it was painted in two distinct phases and not finished until 1515-20; but technical examination, carried out during a restoration early this century, suggests that it was executed in a single phase. The picture was still in Venice in 1623, as there is a drawing of it in Van Dyck’s sketchbook. It is recorded in 1639 in Charles I’s collection at Whitehall Palace; it was later in Spain (the convent of S. Pascuale, Madrid); and was given to the museum by King William of Holland in 1823.
Antwerp. Rubenshuis (on long-term from November 2017).
Portrait of a Lady with Her Daughter. Canvas, 88 x 81.
Unfinished. The object in the lady's right hand could be a flower or an ostrich fan. The painting was among the contents of Titian's studio purchased in 1581 by Cristoforo Barbarigo. It had been altered – probably by one of Titian's later and less skilled assistants – into a depiction of Tobias and the Angel. (The woman was given wings and a box, the child was given a fish, and both were given masculine hairstyles.) The picture remained in the Palazzo Barbarigo della Terrarazza on the Grand Canal until 1850, when it was one of more than one hundred paintings sold by the Barbarigo family to Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. The Russian imperial art advisors judged it unworthy of the Hermitage, and it was sold a few years later. By the Second World War, it had passed into the hands of a French dealer called René Gimpel. Gimpel died in a German concentration camp, but he had sent all his pictures to London for safekeeping, and they were traced by his family to a bomb-damaged garage in Bayswater. The existence of another composition beneath the Tobias and the Angel was revealed by X-rays in 1948, but it was only in 1983 that a restoration was commissioned to remove the repaint. The restoration lasted almost twenty years. When it was finally completed, the picture was published as a newly discovered Titian by Jaynie Anderson in the November 2002 Burlington Magazine. It failed to sell at Christie's in December 2005. In November 2017, it was placed on long-term loan with the Rubenshuis.
Ascoli Piceno. Palazzo Comunale.
Saint Francis receiving the Stigmata. Canvas, 295 x 178.
Signed, lower left. Very damaged. Originally on the altar of the chapel of Desiderio Guidone or Guidi (the kneeling donor) in the church of San Francesco in Ascoli. The chapel was consecrated in 1561. Transferred to the museum in about 1861. Despite the signature, the picture may have been executed by one of Titian's later and more trusted assistants (such as Emanuel Amberger). Restored in 2005.
Baltimore. Museum of Art.
Portrait of a Man (Niccolò Orsini (?)). Canvas, 88 x 71.
An aristocrat, with dark hair and beard, is shown half-length and almost in profile. He wears a black jerkin lined with white fur over a doublet of red silk and holds a book in his right hand. The inscription in gold letters, giving Titian’s name and the date 1561, is a later addition. Probably the portrait of the ‘Duke Orsini’ recorded in 1745 in the Orsini Palace, Rome. Acquired by Jacob Epstein of Baltimore in 1925, and bequeathed by him to the museum in 1951.
Barcelona. Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya.
Woman with a Mirror. Canvas, 89 x 71.
A workshop replica of the painting in the Louvre. The beautiful original dates from around 1513-15, and appears to have been one of the earliest of Titian's compositions from which studio replicas and variants were made. In a variant at Prague, a maidservant replaces the male lover. In another variant (restored and altered) at Washington, the woman is nude. The Barcelona version is believed to have come from the collections of Queen Christina of Sweden and the Duc d'Orléans. It was bequeathed to the museum in 1949 by the Spanish politician and Catalan nationalist Francesc Cambó.
Portrait of Pietro Aretino. Canvas, 59 x 47.
This damaged canvas (cut down, worn, retouched and darkened by old varnish) was one of more than 300 paintings donated to the Basel museum in 1920 by Louise Bachofen-Burckhardt, who had acquired it in Berlin in 1908. There were attributions to Sebastiano del Piombo and Moretto da Brescia – both of whom are known to have painted portraits of Aretino. In 1939, the picture was identified (by Wilhelm Suida in the Burlington Magazine) with a portrait of Aretino painted by Titian shortly after the writer arrived in Venice in 1527. That portrait was sent to Federico Gonzaga, Marquess of Mantua, and was described by Carlo Ridolfi as showing Aretino wearing a black cap, decorated with plume tassels and a gold medal, and holding a crown of laurel in his right hand. The Titian attribution failed to win support at the time. But it was recently revived by Xavier Salomon, who describes the 'quality of the portrait as exceptional' (September 2019 Apollo magazine). In contradiction, the entry by Raymond Waddington in the catalogue of the exhibition Pietro Aretino and the Art of the Renaissance, held at the Uffizi from November 2019 to March 2020, classes the portrait as a copy after Titian and argues that 'it lacks refinement'. There are two famous later portraits of Aretino by Titian – one at the Pitti Palace, Florence, and the other in the Frick Museum, New York.
Bayonne. Musée Bonnat.
Ruggiero and Angelica. Paper, 25 x 40.
This superb large drawing, in brown ink in beige paper, illustrates a well-known scene from Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando Furioso (Book X). The princess Angelica, a voluptuous nude reclining in a lush landscape, is rescued from the orc (a reptilian sea monster) by the knight Ruggiero flying through the sky on a hippogriff (horse with an eagle's head and wings). The drawing (signed 'Titianus F.') was engraved in 1565 by Cornelius Cort. According to Ridolfi (1648), the engraving was one of at least six prints commissioned by Titian from Cort. (Ridolfi, however, misidentifies the subject as Perseus and Andromeda.) The drawing may be somewhat earlier than the print (perhaps late 1550s). In pose and physique, the Angelica resembles the Venuses in two paintings at the Prado, and others at Berlin, Cambridge and New York, which show the reclining nude with a young man sitting by her playing an organ or lute.
Bergamo. Accademia Carrara.
*Madonna and Child. Wood, 39 x 48.
The Virgin, seated before a low wall in a pastoral evening landscape, looks tenderly down at her plump infant, who playfully tugs at her hair. This beautiful (but somewhat damaged) little panel was a treasured possession of Count Guglielmo Lochis, who bequeathed it to the Accademia in 1859 as a work of Titian. Later opinion often ascribed it to a follower of Titian (such as Sante Zago or Titian's brother Francesco Vecellio) or to a follower of Giorgione. But the tendency since the 1950s is to attribute it to Titian himself as one of his earliest surviving paintings (about 1507-10). It is similar in composition and style to the 'Bache Madonna' in New York, which is also now generally accepted as a very early Titian, while the head of the Virgin is very like that of the adulteress in the Glasgow Christ and the Adulteress.
Orpheus and Eurydice. Wood, 39 x 53.
The tragic story of Orpheus and Eurydice, told by the Roman poets Virgil, Ovid and Horace, was extremely popular in Italian Renaissance literature and art. In the left foreground, Eurydice is bitten on the ankle by a snake (not an adder, as in the original story, but a dragon-like serpent, perhaps representing the devil). In the right distance, Orpheus attempts to bring her back from Hades but, by looking back at her, loses her forever. This delightful (but damaged) panel, also from the Lochis collection, is painted on oak and may have formed part of a domestic storage chest or cassone. It used to be regarded as the work of Giorgione or an imitator. Roberto Longhi’s attribution to Titian in 1927 as an early work (before 1510) has had partial support.
*Portrait of Clarissa Strozzi. Canvas, 115 x 98.
Renaissance portraits of children are often stffly formal, but Titian's depiction of the two-year old Clarissa is novelly and charmingly natural. Dressed like a miniature gentlewoman in a cream silk dress and precious jewellery, she feeds a bread-ring to a little dog, which sits on a table decorated with sculpted putti dancing. It is uncertain whether the dog was Clarissa's own pet, (A similar white and tan lapdog appears in Titian's Portrait of Eleonora Gonzaga and the Venus of Urbino (both in the Uffizi).) Through the window is a view of a wooded landscape with a sunlit meadow and pond with tiny swans. Painted in 1542 (the date and Clarissa's age are inscribed on the tablet, upper left). The identity of the sitter is known from a letter, sent on 6 July 1542 by Pietro Aretino to Titian, which congratulates the painter on his portrait of 'la bambina del segnor Ruberto Strozzi'. At the time, Roberto Strozzi and his wife Maddalena dei Medici were living in exile in Venice. Roberto had been expelled from Florence six years earlier for his involvement in a plot to pass state secrets to the French ambassador and Turkish Sultan. The picture was bought by the Berlin museum from the Strozzi Palace, Florence, in 1878.
*Self-Portrait. Canvas, 96 x 75.
Despite his advancing years (he could be in his late fifties or sixties), he appears strong and energetic. Seated behind a table, wearing a skullcap and heavy fur stole, he fixes his alert, questioning and perhaps combative gaze on a person or object off to his left. The heavy gold chain is probably the one given to Titian by Charles V in 1533. The painting is one of only two certain self-portraits of Titian; the other, considerably later, is in the Prado at Madrid. The Berlin painting is slightly unfinished in parts, particularly the hands and sleeve. It is sometimes thought to be another version of a self-portrait acquired by the historian Paolo Giovio by May 1549 for his celebrated collection at Lake Como of portraits of famous persons. A later (and now less favoured) dating identifies the painting with the self-portrait seen by Vasari in Titian’s house in 1566 (which Titian said he had painted four years earlier). The Berlin painting seems to have remained in Titian's workshop, passing after his death into the Barbarigo collection. It was discovered around 1815 by the Italian art historian and collector Leopoldo Cicognara in the Casa Barbarigo di San Raffaele and sold to the English timber merchant Edward Solly, whose vast collection was acquired by the Prussian State in 1821.
Titian is known to have painted a number of other self-portraits that are now lost. The first was painted before leaving for Rome in 1545. A self-portrait sent to Charles V in 1550 is probably the one recorded in a woodcut by Giovanni Britto (which shows the painter about the same age as in the Berlin portrait, and similarly dressed, but at work with a stylus and drawing board). A self-portrait sent to Spain in 1552, showing Titian holding a small image of Prince Philip, was destroyed in the 1604 fire at the royal palace of El Pardo, near Madrid. A large bronze medal attributed to Agostino Ardenti records a lost profile portrait of the elderly Titian holding a small framed painting of his son Orazio. A circular self-portrait is recorded in the Gabriele Vendramin inventory of 1569. The Berlin portrait – or another, more finished version of it – was engraved (head and shoulders only) by Lambert Suavius and by Agostino Carracci, and became the most reproduced image of Titian.
*Girl with a Bowl of Fruit (so-called ‘Lavinia’ or 'Pomona'). Canvas, 102 x 82.
The winsome young girl, dressed in a golden-brown gown of shimmering satin, gives an appealing glance over her shoulder, as she holds up a large silver or pewter dish of fruit and flowers (a citron, grapes, artichoke, pomegranate and red roses). The evening landscape is dimly lit by the pinkish glow of the setting sun. Possibly the Pomona by Titian acquired by Jacopo Strada, agent of Maximilian II, in 1568, or the Lavinia with a Basket of Fruit (Titian’s daughter, wrongly called Cornelia by Ridolfi) seen in the house of Niccolò Crasso in the mid-seventeenth century. Usually dated around 1550-55. Modern criticism tends to doubt the traditional identification of the youthful model as Titian's daughter. She wears a wedding ring, and the picture may have been intended as an allegory of marriage. Acquired in 1832 in Florence from the Venetian cleric-turned-art dealer Abate Luigi Celotti. There is a similar picture in the Prado depicting Salome with the head of the Baptist.
Venus and an Organist. Canvas, 115 x 210.
One of several pictures showing a reclining nude with a young man sitting by her playing an organ or lute (there are two in the Prado and others in Cambridge and New York). The organist in the Berlin picture is said to resemble Philip of Spain. The picture may date from about 1550. It was probably in the collection of Prince Pio of Savoy in the eighteenth century, and was purchased by the Berlin Museum in 1918.
Portrait of a Man. Canvas, 94 x 72.
The youngish, bearded gentleman, shown half-length, has a serious, perhaps rather haughty expression, wears a dark doublet decorated with gold aglets and rests his left hand on the hilt of his sword (now scarcely visible). Nothing is known of the history of this portrait before 1821, when it was acquired with the Solly collection. It later hung in the Royal Palace at Berlin. It was attributed to Tintoretto until 1886, when Titian’s signature was discovered at the bottom of the canvas. It may date from the mid-1520s.
Besançon. Musée des Beaux-Arts.
Portrait of a Gentleman. Canvas, 60 x 46.
Bequeathed to the museum in 1894 by the painter and illustrator Jean Gigoux. Somewhat worn and restored. Long neglected, but now attributed to Titian as an early portrait. The sitter was once improbably called Alfonso d'Este or Francis I. He has been identified recently (by the curators of the exhibition Pietro Bembo e l'invenzione del rinascimento held at Padua in 2013) with the famous humanist poet and literary theorist Pietro Bembo. Vasari says that Titian painted a portrait of Bembo before the writer first moved to Rome (1513). The features (particularly the aquiline nose) bear an undeniable resemblance to those in Titian's much later portrait of Bembo at Washington.
Besançon. Musée du Temps.
Portrait of Nicolas Perrenot de Granvelle. Canvas, 106 x 90.
Nicolas Perrenot de Granvelle (1485-1550) was the powerful Chancellor of Charles V and President of the Diet. Titian painted his portrait at Augsburg in 1548, along with those of his wife Nicole Bonvalot (lost) and son Antoine (identified with a portrait now at Kansas City). The portrait remained with the Granvelle family until 1694, when it passed to the Benedictine abbey at Besançon. It was confiscated from the abbey by the French State during the Revolution. In spite of the picture’s pedigree, the attribution has been doubted. The execution has sometimes been ascribed, partly or wholly, to Lambert Sustris, a Flemish painter who accompanied Titian to Augsburg.
Bologna. Pinacoteca Nazionale.
Crucifixion. Canvas, 137 x 149.
A fragment cut from a much larger composition; only Christ and the Good Thief are shown. The complete picture may have been around four metres high. Identified in 1930-31 (by Suida in Dedalo) as part of the ‘large canvas in which Christ is on the cross with the thieves and, below them, the soldiers’ seen by Vasari in Titian’s studio in 1566. The picture had been commissioned by the Flemish merchant Giovanni d’Anna and his brother Daniele in 1559 for their family altar in the church of San Salvatore, where it would have stood opposite Titian’s Annunciation. The identification has not been universally accepted, and the fragment has also been ascribed to Palma Giovane and Tintoretto. Given to the museum in 1882 by the Zambeccari family, who had had it since the eighteenth century.
Bordeaux. Musée des Beaux-Arts.
Tarquin and Lucretia. Canvas, 193 x 143.
Another version of Titian's late masterpiece at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, which was painted for Philip II and sent to Spain in 1571. The two versions are very similar, but the Bordeaux one is less highly finished and there are some differences in the action of the two figures. (In the Bordeaux painting, Tarquin is swinging upwards with his knife rather than thrusting down and Lucretia is flinching away rather than staring back at her assailant.) It has sometimes been accepted as an autograph variant, but is more usually considered a workshop replica or a nearly contemporary copy of high quality. It has an illustrious provenance. It was given to Charles I of England by Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, who had probably acquired it in Venice in 1613. It was bought by Jabach at the 'Commonwealth Sale' and passed into the collections of Cardinal Mazzarin and Louis XIV. Transferred from Versailles to the Bordeaux museum in 1805. A smaller version, with half-length figures, at Vienna (Akademie der Bildenden Künste) is unfinished and very loosely painted.
Boston. Gardner Museum.
**Rape of Europa. Canvas, 185 x 205.
The myth of Europa was rendered by many Greek and Latin writers (including Homer, Moschus and Achilles Tatius), but the most obvious literary source for Titian's great painting is Ovid's Metamorphoses (Book II). Jupiter, fearing the jealousy of his wife Juno, took the form of a beautiful white bull to seduce the Phoenician princess Europa, who was playing with her companions on the seashore. Having been adorned by her with flowers, the bull lured Europa to climb onto its back. The terrified maiden was carried off to Crete, where Jupiter consummated his passion.
The Rape of Europa is one of a series of erotic mythological pictures (called ‘le poesie’ by Titian) painted for Philip II in Titian’s later years. Others in the series are: the Danaë (previously assumed to be the famous picture in the Prado, Madrid, but now identified with a little known and damaged version at Apsley House, London); Venus and Adonis (Prado); Perseus and Andromeda (Wallace Collection, London); and Diana surprised by Actaeon and Diana discovering Callisto (both now owned jointly by the Edinburgh and London National Galleries). It is not known where Philip displayed the six canvases, or even whether they originally hung together. It has been much debated whether the paintings – all of which feature beautiful female nudes – were intended simply for aesthetic enjoyment and sexual titillation or were allegories with deeper moral, religious or political meaning.
The Rape of Europa, the last in the series, is first mentioned in a letter of 19 June 1559 and was despatched to Spain in 1562. (A seventh canvas – the Death of Actaeon – is also mentioned in the June 1559 letter, but was never delivered to Philip and is now in the London National Gallery.) Along with the Diana and Actaeon and Diana and Callisto, the Europa was presented by Philip V to the French ambassador, the Duc de Grammont, in 1704. It passed shortly afterwards into the collection of the French regent, Philippe II, Duc d'Orléans, at the Palais Royal, where it remained until the French Revolution. It was auctioned in London in 1798-99 with the Italian paintings in the Orléans collection, and was bought by Thomas, 2nd Lord Berwick for the comparatively low price of 700 guineas. A few years later, the heavily indebted Lord Berwick sold it to the 4th Earl of Darnley, and it remained with the Earls of Darnley at Cobham Hall in Kent until 1896. It was bought by Mrs Gardner (through Berenson) from Colnaghi’s for £20,000.
It is one of the best preserved of Titian’s late paintings. The canvas does not appear to have been relined. The surface is worn in places (especially the sky and distant mountains), but the colour is still extraordinarily rich and vibrant. A restoration in late 2018/early 2019 was the first for more than a century. The magnificent seascape anticipates Turner. Rubens, who is said to have described the Europa as 'the first picture in the world', painted a superb copy in about 1628, which is now in the Prado.
Boston. Museum of Fine Arts.
Saint Catherine of Alexandria at Prayer. Canvas, 119 x 100.
The legendary saint – identified by the sword, broken wheel and palm – kneels in rapture before a crucifix placed on a sarcophagus. Catherine of Alexandria is not normally depicted in such a devotional pose, and there might be allusion to either St Catherine of Siena (who is sometimes represented kneeling before a crucifix) or St Catherine de' Ricci (a Dominican nun from Prato who experienced visions of Christ's Passion). Probably the picture mentioned in a letter of 10 December 1568 from Titian to Cardinal Alessandro Farnese. It had been sent a few months earlier to Cardinal Alessandrino (Michele di Bonelli), an influential member of the Roman Curia, and Titian complained that he had not yet been paid. Signed (lower left), but usually ascribed partly or largely to Titian’s workshop. It seems to have hung for a time in the monastery of the Escorial, near Madrid. After passing through several aristocratic English collections in the nineteenth century, it was acquired in 1913 by the German banker Leopold Koppel. Bought by the museum from Koppel's son in 1948 for $75,000.
Portrait of a Man holding a Book. Canvas, 98 x 77.
The bearded, still youngish man wears a plumed hat and is more flamboyantly dressed than is usual in a Titian male portrait. (His black doublet and sleeves are decorated with metal aglets and slashed to reveal the white lining, and his collar and shirt cuffs are adorned with pearls.) He was once supposed (on the basis of an old inscription on the back of the canvas) to be ‘Giovan Paolo Baglione, Signore di Perugia’. But Baglione died in 1520, while the style of the portrait is much later (around 1540?). In spite of the signature (lower left, beneath the book), the attribution has occasionally been doubted. Formerly in the collections of the Duke of Sperlinga and of the Count of Francavilla in Palermo; acquired in Paris in 1907 by Frederick B. Platt of Brooklyn; and bought by the Boston Museum for $70,000 in 1943 from Knoedler & Co. of New York.
Brescia. Santi Nazaro e Celso.
The central compartment (278 x 122) shows the Resurrection (the figure of Christ seemingly derived from the famous marble Laocoön discovered in 1506); the upper panels on the left and right (79 x 65) show the Annunciation; the lower left panel (170 x 65) depicts the church’s patron saints, Nazarus and Celsus, with the kneeling donor; and the lower right panel shows St Sebastian (whose pose derives from Michelangelo’s Rebellious Slave now in the Louvre) and, in the background, St Roch and the Angel. The altarpiece was ordered in 1518-19 by the Brescian nobleman Altobello Averoldo, who was provost of the church and papal legate to Venice. It is signed and dated 1522 on the upturned column in the St Sebastian panel. Titian was paid 200 ducats. The Ferrarese ambassador Jacopo Tebaldi attempted to buy the St Sebastian panel in 1520 for his master Alfonso d’Este for 60 ducats, but Alfonso decided not to risk offending Averoldo. According to old guidebooks, the altarpiece was protected by painted shutters depicting the church's titular saints, Nazarus and Celsus. The shutters (traditionally ascribed to Moretto but possibly by the minor Brescian painter Paolo da Caylina) were probably separated from the altarpiece when the original altar and frame were destroyed around 1820.
The fame of the St Sebastian panel is attested by the number of old copies. Some copies depict the saint bound to a column rather than a tree and replace the St Roch and Angel by small figures of archers. These apparently follow a version – conceivably painted by Titian himself and now lost – recorded in the Gonzaga collection at Mantua and Charles I's collection at Whitehall Palace. One of Titian's rare surviving studies on paper is a vigorous drawing (brown ink and wash on grey-blue paper) at Frankfurt for the figure of St Sebastian.
Brocklesby Park (Lincolnshire).
*Supper at Emmaus. Wood, 169 x 211.
Often now identified with the ‘very fine Christ seated at a table with Cleophas and Luke’ described, hanging above a door in the Salotta d’Oro of the Doge’s Palace, by Vasari, who says that it was painted for a ‘gentleman of the Contarini family, who presented it to the Signoria’. The right-hand pilgrim could then be a portrait of Alessandro Contarini (a naval captain against the Turks), and the servant’s livery and the crossed-swords on Christ’s left shoulder could allude to Contarini patronage. The picture probably dates from the early 1530s. Later in the Chiesetta (the Doge’s Palace’s little church), it was taken to France after the fall of the Venetian Republic and acquired by the British diplomat Sir Richard Worsley, from whom it passed by descent to the present Earl of Yarborough. In spite of Titian’s signature (below the dog), the picture was not generally recognised as Titian’s original until a restoration in 1952. Joannides (2001) does not accept it as the original, and regards it as a copy, painted largely by an assistant, of another version (with the same dimensions and in which four of the five figures are virtually identical) in the Louvre. In 2005 the Earl of Yarborough’s picture was placed on loan with the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.
Budapest. Museum of Fine Arts.
Doge Marcantonio Trevisan. Canvas, 100 x 87.
Marcantonio Trevisan was elected 80th Doge of Venice in 1553 at the age of seventy-eight. He died the following year. The Budapest picture, which shows him in his ceremonial robes, is assumed to be another version or variant of the official portrait of the Doge, painted by Titian for the Sala del Maggior of the Doge's Palace and destroyed by fire in 1577. (The official portrait was paid for on 28 February 1554, but appears to have been painted by October-November 1553, when Pietro Aretino praised it in two sonnets.) The execution is often ascribed to Titian's workshop. While the face is quite highly finished, the costume is very freely painted.
On loan from the Hungarian Central Bank).
Madonna and Child with St Paul. Canvas, 110 x 95.
St Paul, dressed as a Roman soldier, has the character of a portrait. There are other versions with different saints. A version at the Hermitage has Mary Magdalene and one at the Uffizi has Catherine of Alexandria. The Budapest painting came to light only in 1995, when it was sold by a family living in Pécs in southern Hungary. It was acquired in 2005 by the entrepreneur Gyula Pintér, who placed it on loan with the Budapest museum. Bought by the Hungarian Central Bank for $15.8 million in 2015.
Cambridge. Fitzwilliam Museum.
*Tarquin and Lucretia. Canvas, 189 x 145.
The subject, found in both Ovid and Livy, of Tarquin threatening to kill Lucretia to force her to submit to his desires was probably suggested to Titian by northern prints (including two, dating from 1539 and 1553, by the German Heinrich Aldegrever and one, dating from the 1540s, by the Fontainebleau ‘Master LD’). The picture is almost certainly the ‘Roman Lucretia violated by Tarquin’, which Titian says he had sent to Spain in a letter of 1 August 1571 to Philip II. It is unusually highly finished and brilliantly coloured for such a late work, and Titian himself describes it as ‘an invention involving greater labour and artifice than anything, perhaps, that I have produced for many years.’ It was looted from the Spanish royal collection by Joseph Bonaparte on his flight from the Spanish throne after the Battle of Vitoria in 1813. It was probably taken to America, where Bonaparte had an estate at Bordentown, New Jersey. After Bonaparte's death, it was sent to London in 1845 for sale at Christie's, and subsequently passed through the collections of the Liberal politician William Coningham at Kemptown, Brighton, and Lord Northwick at Thirlestaine House, Cheltenham. From 1886 to 1910, it was owned by the millionaire insurance broker Charles Butler of Hyde Park, London. Given to the Fitzwilliam Museum by Charles Fairfax Murray in 1918. There is a variant (perhaps a workshop replica or contemporary copy) in Bordeaux purchased by Lord Arundel in Venice in 1613, and a third, much smaller unfinished version (possibly by an assistant or imitator) in Vienna.
Venus with a Lute Player. Canvas, 151 x 197.
Venus's bed appears to be placed on a balcony. She reclines on a burgundy velvet coverlet and is crowned by Cupid, standing on the satin pillows behind her, with a wreath of flowers. She lanquidly holds a recorder. The music book lying open by her bedside appears to have the notation of a madrigal. A well-dressed youth sits at Venus's feet, playing a lute and gazing raptly at her naked body. Beyond the balcony is an open landscape with a river and distant blue mountains. The picture is recorded in the 1621 inventory of the Imperial collection at Prague. After the fall of the city in 1648, it passed into Swedish hands, and was in the collections of Queen Christina in Rome and the Duc d’Orléans in France. It was bought by Viscount Fitzwilliam at the Orléans sale of 1798-99 in London. The picture had always been accepted as a work of Titian until Crowe and Cavalcaselle dismissed it as the work of an imitator. It was later considered a workshop replica of a painting at Holkham Hall, Norfolk (now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York). However, pentimenti revealed when the painting was cleaned in 1949-50 have been cited as evidence that it is actually the Cambridge picture that is the earlier of the two. It may date from the late 1550s or early 1560s. There are three variants – two in the Prado and one at Berlin – in which the musician is an organist rather than a lute player.
Cambridge (Massachusetts). Harvard Art Museum.
Unidentified Scene (Mother and Soldier in Landscape). Wood, 46 x 44.
A mother is seated under a tree with her young child. A soldier, wearing a steel breastplate, faulds and greaves and holding a halberd, stands to the right. There are no early records of this little panel, which might have been part of a series of mythological or allegorical scenes decorating a piece of furniture or some wood panelling. The composition recalls Giorgione's famous Tempest, and it was to Giorgione that the painting was traditionally ascribed. An attribution to Titian, as a very early work, was proposed by Berenson (1932 Lists) but later abandoned. It was revived, after the painting was cleaned and restored, by Hilliard Goldfarb in an article in the July 1984 Burlington Magazine and confidently endorsed by Paul Joannides in his 2001 monograph on Titian's early works. The main alternative attribution has been to the young Sebastiano del Piombo. The painting was in the Marquess of Northampton's collection until 1981, when it was sold (through Christie's) to a New York dealer. Purchased in 2007 by the Harvard Art Museum, which has catalogued the picture as 'attributed to Titian'.
Castello di Roganzuolo (near Conegliano). Church (San Fior).
The Madonna and Child (240 x 80) in the centre; St Paul and St Peter (each 190 x 57) at the sides. The altarpiece was installed in the church in August 1549. Titian owned a small house in the village, and the payments, which started in 1543 and were still running in 1557, were mostly in kind (wine, wheat, building supplies and manual labour). As a provincial commission, the execution was probably by assistants from Titian’s designs. Badly damaged during the First World War: the Madonna and Child and the St Peter are now largely the work of a restorer and the St Paul is heavily retouched.
Chantilly. Musée Condé.
Ecce Homo. Canvas, 73 x 59.
A replica – differing only in that Christ holds a rod in his right hand – of the 1548 painting on slate at the Prado. It is possibly the version given to Pietro Aretino, which he kept in his bedroom. (Aretino wrote that the painting would 'inspire to humility anyone who contemplates the pain caused by the rod in his right hand'.) The execution is usually ascribed to Titian's workshop. Bought by Henri d'Orléans, Duc d'Aumale, in 1858 for 15,000 francs from the Averoldi family of Brescia.
Chicago. Art Institute. On extended loan from the Barker Welfare Foundation.
Danaë. Canvas, 121 x 170.
Danaë, imprisoned in a brazen tower, was seduced by Jupiter disguised as a shower of gold (Ovid's Metamorphoses, Book VI). One of several versions. The original, painted for Alessandro Farnese in 1544-46, is at Naples. It includes a Cupid at the end of the bed, while other versions include an old maidservant catching the golden shower in her apron (Madrid, St Petersburg and London (Apsley House)) or in a metal dish (Vienna). The Chicago version includes neither Cupid nor maidservant, but shows a stormy landscape on the right. The figure of Danaë is the same in all the versions and was probably derived from the original by the use of tracing. The Chicago painting, classed as the work of 'a follower or workshop of Titian' by Wethey (1975), is labelled 'Titian and workshop' by the Chicago Institute. It was acquired by Howard Spaulding of Chicago in 1927 from a London dealer. Spaulding's widow (later Mrs Charles Hickox) bequeathed it in 1970 to the Barker Welfare Foundation (which she had established herself in 1934). On loan to the Chicago Institute since 1973.
Cincinnati. Art Museum
Portrait of Philip II. Canvas, 109 x 95.
This sketch could have been painted from life in Milan in December 1548 or at Augsburg in 1550-51. The crown may be a later addition, made when Philip married Mary Tudor in 1554 or when he became ruler of Spain in 1556. The picture is presumed to have remained in Titian’s house at his death, and to have passed in 1581 into the Barbarigo collection at Venice and thence into the Barbarigo-Giustiniani collection at Padua (where it remained until at least 1881). It was one of several paintings from the Barbarigo-Giustiniani collection sold to Franz von Lenbach, a leading Munich portraitist and prolific copyist of Old Masters. (A second version of the Philip II in Lenbach's collection was attributed to Titian, but may have been a copy painted by Lenbach himself.) The picture subsequently passed from Lenbach's widow (via Agnew's of London) to the Irish art dealer Sir High Lane, who sold it for the huge price of £80,000 ($400,000) to the Cincinnati philanthropist Mrs Mary Emery. Bequeathed to the museum in 1927.
Cleveland (Ohio). Museum of Art.
Adoration of the Magi. Canvas, 135 x 217.
The picture is worn and the colours have darkened and dulled. One of four versions. The original is probably the damaged painting at the Escorial, which was sent to Spain in 1560. A replica in the Ambrosiana, Milan, may be at least partly autograph. A version at the Prado is probably a workshop copy. The Cleveland picture was once sometimes claimed as Titian's original. It is now classed as 'Titian and workshop' by the museum, but its poor condition makes it hard to judge whether the master had much share in the execution. Nineteenth-century owners included the English poet Samuel Rogers and the Scottish art collectors Hugh Munro of Novar (patron of Turner) and William Graham (patron of Pre-Raphaelites). It was acquired around 1928 by the New York investment banker Arthur Sachs, who sold it to the Cleveland museum in 1957.
Copenhagen. Statens Museum for Kunst.
Portrait of a Man in a Black Beret. Canvas, 81 x 67.
The ageing sitter's pursed lips and apparently clenched fist (perhaps he was originally holding a handkerchief or gloves) gives him a defiant or determined look. In the strip of landscape on the left, a shepherd tends his flock. An early portrait, variously dated between 1510 and 1518. Jurgen Rapp (Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte (1987)) identified the sitter as the elderly Giovanni Bellini on the basis of a resemblance to an inscribed medal of the great painter by Vittore Giambello and a related drawing attributed to Vittore Belliniano. An alternative suggestion is that the elderly man, who appears to be wearing the habit of a lay brother, could be a member of the confraternity of St Anthony (for whom Titian painted his Paduan frescoes of 1511). Sold (as a Titian) in Vienna in 1828 by the miniaturist Giovanni Domenico Bossi to Count Gustaff Trolle-Bonde. At the Copenhagen Museum since 1922.
Portrait of a Bearded Man. Canvas, 114 x 94.
This imposing three-quarter length portrait of an unknown middle-aged man, richly dressed in a fur-trimmed robe and gesturing with his right hand as though addressing an audience, probably dates from the 1550s. Acquired in 1926 from the Diemann Gallery, Berlin.
Detroit. Institute of Art.
Judith. Canvas, 113 x 95.
The Old Testament heroine puts the oversized head of the Assyrian general Holofernes in a sack held by her servant. (In the biblical story, the servant is a maid called Abra, but here the servant resembles a black page.) The painting, Titian’s only known picture of this subject, is rendered with the free technique and broken colour of his extreme old age. It is usually regarded as fully autograph, though the hand of an assistant (Girolamo Dente?) is suspected by Nicholas Penny (see his 2008 catalogue of the National Gallery’s sixteenth-century Venetian paintings). It is first recorded in 1677 in the possession of the Marchese Gerini of Florence. After the Gerini collection was auctioned in 1825, the picture passed into the hands of the London bookseller John Rodwell, who published Notices of the Life and Works of Titian in 1829. In the early twentieth century, it belonged to the Liberal politician, amateur painter and collector William Cornwallis-West of Ruthin Castle, North Wales. It had crossed the Atlantic by 1935, and was one of many artworks gifted to the Detroit Institute by Edsel Ford, heir to the Ford Motor Company. A restoration in 2017 was the first since the picture was acquired by the Institute. It removed layers of yellowed varnish and discoloured old repaint. Cleaning has heightened the contrast of Judith's pale skin and filmy white dress with the dark tones of the wine red curtain and Holofernes's dead head.
The figure of Judith is similar in pose (though not in costume) to that of Salome in a picture acquired in 2012 by the Tokyo Museum of Western Art.
Portrait of Andrea de’ Franceschi. Canvas, 82 x 64.
Andrea de’ Franceschi (1473-1552) was Chancellor of the Venetian Republic for more than twenty years, and this portrait may have been painted shortly after his election to this prestigious and lucrative state office in September 1529. The portrait cannot be earlier than this, as de' Franceschi is shown wearing his official crimson robes with ducal (open) sleeves. He owned two versions of it. In his will, drawn up on 1 March 1535, he left one version to his nephew, Pietro de' Franceschi, and the other version to another nephew, Girolamo de' Franceschi. It is possibly that the Detroit picture is the one mentioned by Ridolfi (1648) in the Widmann collection in Venice. It belonged to Frederick II of Prussia until 1806, when it was taken by the French and entered the Viardot collection in Paris. Bequeathed to the Institute of Arts by Edgar Bancroft Whitcomb in 1953. Another version at Washington (cut down to bust-length and possibly by Titian’s workshop) has an inscription apparently giving the sitter’s age as sixty. A portrait in Indianapolis shows de' Franceschi in a nearly identical pose, but as an older man with white hair. It is attributed to Titian's workshop.
Portrait of a Man holding a Flute. Canvas, 98 x 86.
Signed on the table on the left. This intimate, dark-toned portrait may date from the late 1550s or early 1560s. From Baron von Stumm’s collection in Berlin (where it was ascribed to Andrea Schiavone); acquired by the Detroit Institute in 1927.
Dijon. Musée des Beaux-Arts.
Madonna and Child with St Agnes and St John. Canvas, 111 x 149.
The Virgin, seated outside a classical building, supports the Child, who stands on her knee clutching an apple. St Agnes holds a martyr's palm and strokes the head of a lamb brought before the Virgin by the infant St John. This horizontal sacra conversazione was among the pictures acquired by Louis XIV of France from the celebrated German collector Everhard Jabach. Until 1946 the picture hung in the Louvre. The figure of St Agnes is repeated (as St Catherine) in Palma Vecchio’s Holy Family with St John the Baptist and St Catherine in the Accademia, Venice, which is thought to have been completed by Titian after Palma’s death in 1528. Critical opinion has long been divided between those (like Berenson (1897-1957 Lists) and Wethey (1969)) who have accepted the Dijon picture is an autograph Titian and others (like Tietze (1936) and Valcanover (1960)) who have ascribed it to his studio. Datings have ranged from the 1520s to mid-1530s.
'Sacra Conversazione' (Madonna with Four Saints). Wood, 138 x 191.
John the Baptist, dressed in camel skin, holds the arm of the Christ Child to steady the infant as he stands on the Virgin's right knee. Mother and Child look towards Mary Magdalene, who stands in profile, with downcast eyes, holding her jar of ointment. St Jerome, at the right edge of the painting, holds a crucifix. The heavily bearded saint, in shadow in the background, appears to be holding a sword and is usually identified as Paul. A fairly early work, usually dated around 1515-20. It was acquired in 1747 from the Casa Grimani ai Servi in Venice. It was almost certainly commissioned by Cardinal Domenico Grimani, the eldest son of Doge Antonio Grimani. Domenico Grimani, a voracious collector, also owned works by Giorgione, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Memling and Hieronymous Bosch. Titian frescoed his palace façade. The will of Grimani's widow stipulated that Titian's Sacra Conversazione should be secured to the wall in a plaster frame, as she wished it to remain the property of her heir.
*The Tribute Money. Wood, 75 x 56.
The subject, rare in Italian art, is found in all three Synoptic Gospels. Pharisees, trying to trick Christ, asked him whether it is right to pay tax to the Romans. Christ replied by asking whose likeness and name are on the coinage. The Pharisees replied 'Caesar's', and Christ responded with his famous dictum 'Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's.' (Mark: 12, 14-17). Signed on the Pharisee's collar. From the Este collection at Modena, and almost certainly the painting seen by Vasari in Alfonso d’Este’s chamber at Ferrara: ‘On the door of a cupboard Titian painted an image of Christ, from the waist upwards, to whom one of the common Jews is showing the coin of Caesar.’ The panel (originally slightly larger and later cut down) was embedded in the door of the cupboard, which had a keyhole on one side. The cupboard is thought to have contained Alfonso's large collection of more than 3,500 antique Roman coins and medals.
The theme of the Tribute Money had a particular significance for Alfonso, who, shortly before his succession to the Ferrarese throne, had minted in 1505 a coin (gold double ducat or doppione) with a representation of the subject on the reverse. Vasari described Titian's head of Christ as 'stupendous and miraculous', and claimed that all artists who saw it considered it the most perfect painting that Titian had ever produced. The picture is comparatively early: Titian was in contact with Alfonso from 1516. Some fifty years later, Titian painted a wholly different version of the subject for Philip of Spain (now in the National Gallery, London).
In 1598 Cesare d"Este took the panel to Modena, where it was framed for public display. It was among one hundred masterpieces sold by Francesco III d'Este to Augustus III, Elector of Saxony, in 1746. In 1945, at the end of the Second World War, it was one of many works from Dresden confiscated by the Red Army and taken to the Pushkin Museum in Moscow. It was badly damaged by damp and carefully restored by the Russian painter Pavel Dmitriyevich Korin. Returned in Dresden in 1955.
*Man with a Palm (Antonio Palma or Alvise dalla Scala?). Canvas, 138 x 116.
While the signature (on the left, below the window) may not be original, the date (1561) might well be correct. The object on the window sill appears to be a paint box (and not, as once supposed, an apothecary's medicine box). The palm branch, usually associated with martyrs, could conceivably allude to the sitter's name or his patron saint. The identification of the sitter as the painter Antonio Palma, nephew of Palma Vecchio and father of Palma Giovane, dates back to a note by Herbert Cook in the 1904-5 Burlington Magazine. Another theory is that the portrait could represent a merchant in painters' pigments (vendecolore), and Titian's paint dealer Alvise dalla Scala has been proposed recently as a likely candidate. (See the article by Tristan Weddigen and Gregor Weber in the 2010 exhibition catalogue Tizian: Die Dame in Weiss.) The portrait was acquired in about 1753 from the Casa Marcello in Venice. An apocryphal inscription (since removed) identified the sitter as Pietro Aretino.
*Portrait of a Woman in White (‘Lavinia as Bride'). Canvas, 102 x 86.
The theory that the young women with a flag fan is Titian’s daughter Lavinia, and that the picture commemorates her marriage in 1555 to Cornelio Sarcinelli of Serravalle, originated with Crowe and Cavalcaselle (1877). A more recent theory is that she is Titian’s younger illegitimate daughter Emilia, who married in 1568. Some writers doubt whether the picture is a portrait at all and class it as a 'bella donna painting' (idealised portrayal of an anonymous beauty). Titian is often said to have used the same young woman ('Lavinia') as a model for other paintings, including the Girl with the Bowl of Fruit (Berlin) and the Salome (Madrid); but the likeness is not conclusive. Acquired in 1746 from the Este collection at Modena, where it was listed (1657) as Titian’s Mistress. Titian seems to have painted another version, now lost, for Philip of Spain. There is a copy by Rubens of this other version in Vienna. Cleaned in 2007.
Portrait of a Woman with a Feather Fan (‘Lavinia as Matron’). Canvas, 103 x 87.
The inscription LAVINIA TIT. V. F. AB EO F. (‘Lavinia daughter of Titian painted by him’) is not original. If the subject is Lavinia, who was probably born after 1530, the portrait was presumably painted in the 1560s when she would have been in her thirties. She had six children and died some time after January 1574, perhaps a victim of the plague. Acquired in 1746 from the Este collection in Modena.
Madonna with a Family as Donors. Canvas, 118 x 161.
Ascribed to Titian in inventories of the Este collection at Modena. Considered a workshop production by most modern critics, although Berenson (1957) thought that the Madonna was painted by Titian himself (after 1555).
Dublin. National Gallery of Ireland.
‘Ecce Homo’. Canvas, 72 x 55.
Bought at Christie’s in 1885 as a work of Titian, but attributed to a Spanish imitator, Matteo Cerezo, in the Gallery’s 1914 catalogue. After the picture was cleaned in 1955, John Gore revived the attribution to Titian, proposing a date of about 1560. Titian is known to have painted many versions of the half-length Ecce Homo, including pictures for Pope Paul III (1545-46), Charles V and Pietro Aretino (1548), Cardinal Perrenot de Granvelle (1549) and Guidobaldo II della Rovere, Duke of Urbino (mid-1560s). There are surviving examples in the Prado (painted on slate for Charles V), the Musée Condé at Chantilly (possibly the Aretino version), the Brukenthal Museum at Sibiu in Romania (probably about 1560), and a private collection (from the convent of the Poor Clares at Urbania and possibly the version painted for the Duke of Urbino).
Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione. Canvas, 124 x 97.
Darkened and in poor condition. Baldassare Castiglione (1478-1529), poet, diplomat and courtier at Mantua and Urbino, is famous as the author of Il Cortegliano (a handbook on court etiquette). The inscription (upper right), with his name, may not be reliable, and it is possible that the portrait represents someone else. The sitter is shown almost in profile, and comparison with Raphael's famous portrait of Castiglione in the Louvre is inconclusive. If Castiglione is the sitter, the portrait was probably painted in May/June 1523, when he accompanied Isabella d’Este to Venice and visited Titian’s studio. The portrait was ascribed to Giulio Romano in the 1689 inventory of Queen Christina’s collection, to Tintoretto in the 1713 inventory of the Odescalchi collection, and to Titian in the 1721 inventory of the Orléans collection. The Titian attribution has been supported by most recent critics. Bequeathed to the gallery by Sir Hugh Lane in 1918.
Supper at Emmaus. Canvas, 163 x 200.
The picture represents the moment when the two disciples (Peter on the right and Cleophas on the left) recognise their fellow traveller (breaking bread in the centre) as the risen Christ (Luke 24: 30-31). Titian's paintings of this subject at the Louvre and in the Earl of Yarborough's collection probably date from the early 1530s. The Dublin picture is simpler in composition and later in style, and could have been produced in Titian's workshop in the 1540s. It was bought in 1836 by the great Russian collector Count Anatole Demidoff from the Venetian art dealer Abate Luigi Celotti, and acquired by the Dublin gallery at the Demidoff sale in Paris in 1870. The extravagant Rocco revival frame (restored in 2000) was made for the picture around 1836 by the Italian woodcarver Vincenzo Bolci.
The central canvas of the Assumption of the Virgin (344 x 172) is loosely based on Titian's famous Frari Assunta of 1516-18. Side canvases (each 200 x 55) depict pairs of saints: Lazarus and Blaise, on the left, and Nicholas of Bari and Anthony Abbot, right. Above these are figures (each 100 x 55) of the Angel and Virgin of the Annunciation. The polyptych was originally in the church of San Lazzaro (destroyed in the terrible earthquake of 1667). It now serves as the Cathedral's high altarpiece. It was probably produced in Titian's workshop in the 1550s. Titian's own input may have been confined to the lower part of the central canvas, showing the Apostles..
Dubrovnik. Monastery of San Domenico.
St Blaise, Mary Magdalene, Tobias and the Angel, and Donor. Canvas, 208 x 163.
A comparatively late work, probably painted around 1550 with workshop assistance. Badly damaged. (There are paint losses, concealed by restoration, along a vertical strip running through the centre of the canvas and along six horizontal strips where the canvas had been folded. There are also substantial losses around the edges.) Described as a work of Titian in 1595 by Fra Serafino Razzi (a Dominican friar and composer) on the altar of the Dominican church at Ragusa (present day Dubrovnik). It is said to have been removed from the altar and hidden during the siege of 1806. It was sent to Venice in 1859-64, where it was heavily repainted by Paolo Fabris, the chief restorer at the Doge's Palace. A restoration in 2001-06 removed much old repaint.
Edinburgh. National Gallery of Scotland.
*Venus Anadyomene. Canvas, 76 x 58.
The goddess, identified by the seashell floating at her side, wrings water out of her hair after rising from the sea. It has been suggested that Titian’s source was a Roman statue; also that he was inspired by Pliny’s account of the Venus Anadyomene of Apelles. Gronau (1904) dated it 1517, on the supposition that it is the Bagno mentioned in a letter of that year from Titian to Alfonso d’Este; but other critics have considered it rather later (1520s). Listed in about 1662 in Queen Christina’s collection in the Palazzo Riario in Rome; in the Orléans collection from 1721; and acquired by the Duke of Bridgewater in London in 1798. Bought by the National Gallery of Scotland from the Trustees of the Duke of Sutherland in 2003 for £11.6 million. The picture is exceptionally well preserved.
Holy Family with John the Baptist. Canvas (transferred from panel), 63 x 93.
John the Baptist points to the lamb (a reference to John 1: 29). The man kneeling to take the Child from the Virgin seems too young for Joseph, and could be the donor or an unidentified saint who had a special significance for the painting's patron. Transferred from panel in the eighteenth century, and rather damaged and retouched. The earliest reference is by Dubois de Saint Gelais who, in 1727 when it was in the Orléans collection, catalogued it under the name of Palma Vecchio. It still had this attribution when it was bought by the 3rd Duke of Bridgwater at the Orléans sale in 1798. It was first attributed to Titian by Morelli (1892), who dated it about 1510-12. This view has been accepted by most subsequent critics (though usually with a somewhat later dating). Like the other pictures from the Duke of Sutherland’s collection, it was formerly at Bridgewater House in London and has been on loan to the National Gallery of Scotland since 1946. A variant at Glasgow repeats the figures of the Madonna and Child but replaces the Baptist and donor/unidentified saint with St Dorothy and St Jerome; clearly inferior in execution, it has been variously attributed to Titian's brother Francesco Vecellio, to Polidoro da Lanciano and to an unidentified follower of Titian.
*Three Ages of Man. Canvas, 90 x 151.
An early work, placed by Vasari after Titian’s first visit to Ferrara: ‘After he had returned to Venice, for the father-in-law of Giovanni da Castel Bolognese Titian did a painting in oils on canvas of a naked shepherd and a country girl who is offering some pipes for him to play, with an extremely beautiful landscape. The picture, today, is to be found in Faenza, in Giovanni’s house.’ Giovanni’s father-in-law, Titian’s patron, was Miliano Targone (or Targhetta), a goldsmith described by Benvenuto Cellini as ‘the finest jeweller in the world.’ The picture’s current title is first recorded in 1675 and may be a seventeenth-century invention. The sleeping babies, roused by the playful Cupid, on the right may allude to the young lovers’ infancy, while the two skulls contemplated by the old man in the landscape may allude grimly to their death. It has recently been suggested (by Paul Joannides in Apollo in 1991) that the picture represents the awakening love of Daphnis and Chloe, the central episode in the late Greek pastoral romance by Longus. Titian appears to have used the same model for the naked shepherd as for the Baptist in the Baptism of Christ at Rome (Capitolina) and the same model for the blonde girl as for the St Catherine in the Sacra Conversazione at Mamiano (Fondazione Magnani Rocca). The picture was formerly in the collections of Queen Christina (who bought it at Augsburg for 1,000 Reichsthales in 1655) and the Duc d’Orléans; bought by the Duke of Bridgewater in 1798.
**Diana surprised by Actaeon. Canvas, 185 x 202.
The subject is from Book III of Ovid's Metamorphoses. The hunter Actaeon mistakenly stumbles across the virgin goddess Diana bathing with her nymphs in the sacred fountain in the wood of Boeotia. He throws up his arms in alarm, seemingly aware of his fate. (Diana later turned him into a stag and he was torn to pieces by his own hounds – a scene portrayed by Titian’s painting in the National Gallery, London.) The picture was sent to Philip II in 1559 along with its pendant, Diana and Callisto, and an Entombment (the painting in the Prado). The canvases were shipped from Genoa to Cartagena, and taken thence by road to Madrid. With the Rape of Europa (Boston), the two paintings were presented to Prince Charles by Philip IV and packed for transport to England. But on the collapse of the royal marriage negotiations, they were kept back. In 1704, Philip V presented them to the French ambassador, the Duc de Grammont, who gave them to the French Regent, Philippe Duc d'Orléans. They were acquired by the Duke of Bridgwater for £2,500 each in 1798, when the Orléans collection was sold in London. Bought jointly by the National Gallery, London, and the National Gallery of Scotland for £50 million and £45 million in 2009 and 2012. In future, the two paintings will be displayed together, on a rotating basis, at Edinburgh and London.
**Diana discovering Callisto. Canvas, 187 x 205.
Another of the erotic mythologies (poesie), with subjects from Ovid, painted by Titian for Philip of Spain. Others in the series are the Danaë (formerly assumed to be the version in the Prado, but recently identified as a damaged painting at Apsley House), Venus and Adonis (Prado), Perseus and Andromeda (Wallace Collection) and Rape of Europa (Boston). The subject of Diana and Callisto is found in Book II of Metamorphoses. The nymph Callisto, a favourite of Diana, was lusted after by Jupiter, who transformed himself into the goddess in order to seduce her. Titian's picture shows the moment when Callisto, bathing after hunting, is discovered by Diana to be pregnant. Diana punished the nymph by transforming her into a bear and setting dogs upon her, but she was saved by Jupiter and transported to the heavens.
The two Diana poesie, painted in 1556-59, have always been numbered among Titian's late masterpieces. When the campaign was underway in 2008 to save them for the nation, Lucian Freud described them as 'quite simply the most beautiful paintings in the world'. The Diana and Callisto is more thinly painted than the Diana and Actaeon and the paint surface appears more worn. Both pictures are, however, in 'fundamentally good condition'. Restored in 1932 and again in 1998. A later version, probably executed with much studio assistance, is at Vienna. A copy by Rubens, painted around 1628, is now in the Earl of Derby's collection at Knowsley, Lancashire.
Fort Worth. Kimbell Art Museum.
Madonna and Child with St John and a Female Saint. Wood, 105 x 148.
A variant (on panel rather than canvas) of a well-known painting ('Aldobrandini Madonna') in the National Gallery, London. In the beautiful National Gallery version, the infant St John is seated on the left, offering fruit and flowers to the Virgin. Here, he is on the right, leading a lamb. The panel was probably painted in Titian's workshop in the 1530s. Nothing is known of its history before 1952, when it was sold at Christie's, London, for 75 gns. After some years in Italian private collections, it was auctioned (as 'studio of Titian') at Sotheby's, London, in 1986 for some $50,000. The purchaser, the New York dealer Piero Corsini, had it cleaned and restored at the Metropolitan Museum, and sold it the same year to the Kimbell Museum for $1.5 million. Pentimenti have been cited as evidence for an attribution to Titian rather than his studio. (X-rays reveal that the bush on the left was painted over the figure of an angel offering flowers to the Virgin.) The picture is markedly darker in tone than the National Gallery version, and the green pigments have turned brown in places. There are other variants in the Pitti Palace, Florence, and the British Royal Collection (Buckingham Palace).
*'Flora'. Canvas, 79 x 63.
She offers a handful of flowers (rosebuds, violets and jasmine). A mantle of rose brocade is gathered loosely around her, and her undergarment (camicia) of soft white linen has slipped off her shoulder. The V-shape position of her fingers (also found in Sebastiano del Piombo's Dorotea at Berlin and Wise Virgin at Washington) may stand for virtus. The picture is not a portrait, nor even necessarily a mythological subject, but an idealised (and magnificently sensual) painting of a beautiful woman. The title Flora goes back to a seventeenth-century engraving by Joachim Sandrart, made when the picture belonged to the Spanish ambassador in Amsterdam, Don Alfonso Lopez. Lopez later sold it to Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria, Governor of the Netherlands. It came to Florence in 1793 when an exchange of pictures took place between the Uffizi and the Imperial Gallery at Vienna. It probably dates from 1515-20.
**‘Venus of Urbino’. Canvas, 119 x 165.
The model for ‘Venus’ (there is, in fact, nothing to identify her as a goddess) seems to be the same as that used for La Bella in the Pitti Palace, the Girl in a Fur in Vienna and the Girl with a Plumed Hat in St Petersburg. She lies casually on a couch, a little dog curled up at her feet and a posy of roses in her hand. In the background, a maidservant and lady-in-waiting search for a gown in a cassone. The earliest of Titian’s long series of reclining nudes, Venuses and Danaës. With the exception of the right arm (which Titian has let fall instead of placing it behind the goddess’s head), the pose is virtually identical to that of Giorgione’s Sleeping Venus at Dresden (which was completed by Titian according to the near contemporary Marcantonio Michiel). It has sometimes been interpreted as symbolising marital love (the roses and the pot of myrtle on the window sill alluding to love, the dog fidelity and the cassone marriage) and sometimes simply as an erotic genre scene. The first owner was Guidobaldo della Rovere (then Duke of Camerino), but it is uncertain whether he commissioned the picture or decided to buy it on a visit to Venice in January-February 1538, having seen it in Titian’s studio when sitting for his portrait. In a letter of 9 March 1538 he urged his servant (Girolamo Fantini) in Venice not to return to Urbino without the ‘nude woman’. If it was commissioned to commemorate a marriage, it would have to have been that between Guidobaldo and the ten-year old Giulia Varano on 12 October 1534. The painting came to Florence in 1631 with the collection left by the last Duke of Urbino to Vittoria della Rovere, who married Grand Duke Ferdinando II de’ Medici.
Venus and Cupid. Canvas, 139 x 195.
There are symbols of love (the red roses and Cupid's arrows), purity (Venus's pearl necklace), fidelity (the yapping dog) and perhaps treachery (the partridge on the window ledge). Considerably later than the Venus of Urbino, and probably painted in good part by Titian’s workshop. It came to Florence in 1618 as a gift from Paolo Giordano Orsini to Cosimo II de’ Medici. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Venus of Urbino and Venus and Cupid hung as pendants in the Tribuna of the Uffizi (described by the Marquis de Sade as the 'temple of Venus'). Nudes of similar physique and posture occur in paintings showing Venus with an organist (Berlin and Madrid) and with a lute player (Cambridge and New York).
*Francesco Maria della Rovere. Canvas, 114 x 100.
Francesco Maria I della Rovere succeeded his uncle Guidobaldo I da Montefeltro as Duke of Urbino in 1508 at the age of eighteen and, in a distinguished military career, commanded the armies of Florence, the Papacy and Venice. His assassination in 1538 (poison was poured into his ears) was probably Shakespeare’s source for the Murder of the Gonzago, the inset play in Hamlet. The portrait, painted between April and October 1536, shows the Duke three-quarter length wearing a splendid suit of black parade armour (which he sent to Venice so that Titian could represent it accurately) and holding his Venetian baton of command. His dragon-crowned helmet and batons of command of Florence and the Papacy are on the shelf behind, along with an oak branch (the Della Rovere heraldic motif). The scroll wrapped around the oak branch is inscribed with the motto 'SE SIBI' ('by himself alone'). A preliminary pen-and-ink drawing in the Uffizi shows the Duke full-length, but there is no technical evidence that the portrait has been cut down.
*Eleonora Gonzaga della Rovere. Canvas, 114 x 102.
She is seated, rather stiffly, by an open window. Her black dress is adorned with small gold bows, and her right hand rests on a zibellino (a weasel or marten pelt with a richly jewelled gold head that is attached to her girdle). The small white and tan spaniel dozing on the table beside her is probably a symbol of fidelity. (The same dog appears in the Venus of Urbino.) The table clock has been interpreted as a symbol of temperance or of the transience of life, but it could simply be a valued possession. (The Dukes of Urbino are known to have collected clocks.) Eleonora Gonzaga was the daughter of Francesco I Gonzaga and Isabella d’Este. She married Francesco Maria della Rovere in 1509 at the age of sixteen. Titian must have begun the portrait when she visited Venice between September 1536 and April 1537. The finished portrait and its pendant of Francesco Maria (also in the Uffizi) were praised by Pietro Aretino in a sonnet included in a letter of 7 November 1537. Brought to Florence in 1631 on the occasion of the engagement of Vittoria della Rovere to Ferdinando II de’ Medici.
*Portrait of Ludovico Beccadelli. Canvas, 117 x 97.
Ludovico Beccadelli (1501-72) was a Bolognese humanist and poet. He was secretary to the Venetian diplomat and theologian Cardinal Gasparo Contarini, and later tutor to Ranuccio Farnese and Ferdinando de’ Medici. As the inscription on the letter states, he held the offices of Bishop of Ravello, Papal Nunico to Venice and Archbishop of Ragusa. The inscription also gives the date of the picture: July 1552. Pietro Aretino praised the portrait extravagantly in a sonnet accompanying a letter dated October 1552. The portrait was acquired by Cardinal Leopoldo de’ Medici in 1653 (possibly from the Beccadelli family of Bologna). It was catalogued in 1952 (by Roberto Salvini) and in 1971 (by Luciano Berti) as an old copy, but it has usually been considered a fine original.
Madonna and Child with St John and St Anthony Abbot. Wood, 67 x 95.
First recorded in the collection of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm; it came to the Uffizi in 1793 in the exchange of pictures with the Vienna Gallery. The signature (on the garment of the infant St John) has been doubted, but the attribution has almost never been, in spite of the picture’s poor condition. It may date from the early 1530s. After many years in storage, it was restored in 2002.
*A Knight of Malta. Canvas, 80 x 64.
An early masterpiece (about 1510-15). The number ‘XXXV’ (revealed by recent cleaning) on one of the rosary beads probably refers to the unknown sitter’s age. The portrait bore an attribution to Titian when it was bought in Venice for the high price of 300 piastre (pieces of eight) by Paolo del Sera, who sold it on to Leopoldo de’ Medici in 1654. However, an old inscription on the back gives Giorgione’s name. In 1677 the portrait hung in the Tribuna of the Uffizi as a work of Titian, but by 1709 it had been reattributed to Giorgione. Some critics (including Berenson) continued with the Giorgione attribution well into the twentieth century, but the attribution to the young Titian now seems to be universal. Obscuring layers of varnish were removed in a restoration of 1998.
Portrait of Pope Sixtus IV. Wood, 110 x 87.
Sixtus IV, the first Della Rovere Pope, died in 1484 and this posthumous profile portrait was probably painted using a medal as a model. It was commissioned in the 1540s by Guidobaldo II della Rovere, who also asked Titian to paint a copy of Raphael's Pope Julius II, and was seen by Vasari in the guardaroba of the Palace at Urbino. It came to Florence in 1631 with the inheritance of Vittoria della Rovere, and was transferred to the Uffizi from the Pitti Palace in 1897. The portrait seems hardly up to Titian's highest standards, and it has often been ascribed to his workshop or to a follower. However, allowance should perhaps be made for the difficulty of producing a satisfactory posthumous portrait. After many years in storage, it was restored in 2002.
Madonna and Child with St Catherine of Alexandria. Canvas, 70 x 55.
Probably a studio work of the 1540s or 1550s. First recorded in 1666 in the collection of Carlo de' Medici in the Casino Mediceo at San Marco. A superior version at the Hermitage, St Petersburg, replaces St Catherine with Mary Magdalene. A third version, with St Paul, was acquired by the Hungarian Central Bank in 2015 and is on loan to the Fine Arts Museum at Budapest.
Saint Margaret. Canvas, 117 x 98.
According to legend, a dragon swallowed the saint whole. Its gaping mouth appears in the bottom right corner. One of many Venetian paintings acquired by the voracious seventeenth-century collector Cardinal Leopoldo de' Medici. It was transferred to the Uffizi from the Pitti Palace in 1798 as a work of Palma Giovane. It was attributed to Titian in 1925 by Roberto Longhi, but has rarely featured in catalogues of the painter's works. Restored in 1997, and presently exhibited with an attribution to 'Titian and assistants' and a dating of '1565-70'. A painting, similar in size and style, at the Prado (currently on loan to the museum at Oviedo) shows a three-quarter length Saint Catherine of Alexandria in much the same pose.
*The Concert. Canvas, 108 x 123.
A young man (incorrectly described by Ridolfi as an Augustinian monk) sits at a keyboard ('spinetta' or 'clavicembalo'). Behind him on the left is a fashionably dressed youth in a plumed hat, and on the other side is an elderly monk holding a viola da gamba. It is uncertain whether this famous and mysterious picture is a portrait commissioned by the keyboard player (and possibly the other musicians), an allegory of some kind, or simply an imaginary concert scene. The painting was acquired by Cardinal Leopoldo de’ Medici from Paolo del Sera in 1654 as a work of Giorgione, an attribution corroborated by other seventeenth-century sources (Ridolfi and Boschini). Morelli in 1891 was the first to suggest that the picture might be an early work by Titian. Some subsequent critics (starting with Georg Gronau in his 1904 Titian) thought that it was painted partly by Giorgione (the youth on the left) but finished by Titian. Other names, Sebastiano del Piombo and Domenico Campagnola, were sometimes proposed, but the attribution to Titian, as a work of around 1511-12, is seemingly now universal. The picture was restored to its original size in 1976, when a 25 cm strip of canvas was removed from the top. Cleaning revealed that the keyboard player's fur-trimmed garment is dark blue rather than black, ruling out the old identification of him as a monk.
*Penitent Mary Magdalene. Wood, 84 x 69.
According to legend, Mary Magdalene went to Provence after Christ's Ascension and lived in a cave as a naked hermit. Titian's painting, combining piety and eroticism, shows her close up, to the waist, lifting her tear-filled eyes to Heaven, while attempting in vain to conceal her nakedness with her hands, arms and flowing reddish blonde hair. Signed on the ointment jar. Possibly the Penitent Magdalen which, we know from a letter of 1531, was commissioned by Federico II Gonzaga as a present for Vittoria Colonna (who had a special devotion for Mary Magdalene through her interest in reforming prostitutes). But more probably the ‘half-length figure of Mary Magdalene with her hair all loose’ seen by Vasari in Francesco Maria della Rovere’s dressing room in the palace at Urbino. The picture, which probably dates from the early or mid-1530s, came to Florence with the Della Rovere collection in 1631. Painted on panel with a smooth high finish. An unfortunate crack runs through the face.
It has often been observed (first by Wilhelm Suida in Leonardo and His Circle (1929)) that Titian's sensuous Penitent Magdalen is distinctly similar in conception to a number of slightly earlier half-length representations of the saint – nude and with her breasts visible between her long tresses – painted by Leonardo da Vinci's Milanese follower Giampietrino. A much later picture by Titian of the Magdalen, clothed but with the same pose, exists in versions at the Hermitage, the Capodimonte and elsewhere.
*Lady in a Blue Dress (‘La Bella’). Canvas, 89 x 75.
Her sumptuous gown of blue damask is delicately embroidered in gold, and the lower sleeves of burgundy velvet are slashed to allow the fabric of her white undergarment (camicia) to be pulled through in puffs. The cylindrical objects attached to her long gold girdle are probably pomanders, containing amber, musk or other perfumes to protect against infection or mask body odours. A zibellino (pelt of sable or marten) is draped over her forearm. The picture is probably the ‘Lady in the Blue Dress’ mentioned by Duke Francesco Maria I della Rovere in a letter of 2 May 1536. Theories that it is the portrait of Isabella d’Este known to have been painted between 1534 and 1536 or a portrait of Eleonora Gonzaga have been abandoned. It is possible that the picture is not a portrait of a real woman at all but rather an idealised image of feminine beauty. What appears to be the same woman (or type of Titian’s invention) is portrayed naked as the Venus of Urbino in the Uffizi and semi-naked as the Woman in a Fur Coat in Vienna and the Woman in a Plumed Hat at St Petersburg. (She is identified in Sheila Hale's 2012 biography, Titian: His Life, with the courtesan Angela del Moro, called 'Zaffetta', who is known to have dined with the painter.) The picture came to Florence in 1631 as part of the Della Rovere inheritance from Urbino. Restoration in 2011 removed layers of yellowed varnish and numerous retouchings, and tightened the canvas. Cleaning has recovered the luminosity of the flesh tones and the brilliance of the blue dress (painted in precious ultramarine), but the original paint surface is quite abraded in places.
*Portrait of Ippolito de’ Medici. Canvas, 138 x 106.
Ippolito de’ Medici (1511-35) was the bastard son of Giuliano, Duke of Nemours. He had seemed destined to succeed his father as ruler of Florence but was supplanted by his ruthless cousin Alessandro. He died (either of malaria or poison) at the age of only twenty-four. According to Vasari, this portrait was painted at Bologna in 1533, but other evidence suggests that Ippolito sat for Titian during a two-week visit to Venice in October 1532. The twenty-one year old Ippolito poses in the Hungarian costume he had worn as leader of the four thousand harquebusiers who had defended Vienna against the Turks. Dressed in a red velvet tunic and plumed hat, he grasps a scimitar in one hand and a mace in the other. Another, smaller, portrait mentioned by Vasari of Ippolito fully armed is now lost.
*Portrait of a Man (the ‘Young Englishman’). Canvas, 111 x 93.
The sitter wears a gold chain and holds the aristocratic attribute of a glove. His identity remains a mystery. In 1698, when the portrait is first recorded in the Medici inventories, he was called Pietro Aretino. Later, for reasons unknown, he was called Howard, Duke of Norfolk. Subsequent attempts to identify him as a lawyer Ippolito Riminaldi (on the basis of a resemblance to a portrait in the Galleria San Luca in Rome), Guidobaldo II della Rovere (of whom Titian is known to have painted two portraits), Ottaviano Farnese (grandson of Paul III, who appears in the triple portrait at Naples) and the sculptor Leone Leoni (on the basis of a comparison with an inscribed medal) have not gained acceptance.
Portrait of Philip II. Canvas, 185 x 103.
This is presumably the portrait of Philip II that Vasari says Titian sent to Cosimo I and was hung in the Duke’s guardaroba (dressing room). It probably dates from about 1553-54 and was executed at least partly by Titian’s studio. It is practically identical to another version in Naples, except that Philip stands in front of a colonnade, whereas the Naples version has a plain dark background. The companion portrait of Charles V mentioned by Vasari is lost.
*Portrait of Tommaso Mosti. Canvas, 85 x 67.
An old (though not contemporary) inscription on the back of the picture identifies the sitter, gives his age as twenty-five, and gives a date of 1526 (or 1520). Mosti, from Modena, was a member of Alfonso d’Este’s court at Ferrara. He became rector of the church of San Leonardo in 1524 and was later archpriest of Ferrara Cathedral. It has sometimes been doubted whether it is actually he that is represented, as the young man is not dressed as a priest but in a luxurious fur-lined doublet; and it has been suggested that the sitter could be one of Tommaso’s brothers (Vincenzo or Agostino). The portrait was once so heavily repainted that the attribution was doubted. Its quality was revealed by cleaning in 1909. One of the many Venetian pictures bought by Cardinal Leopoldo de’ Medici from Paolo del Sera.
Full-length Portrait of a Gentleman (‘Diego de Mendoza’). Canvas, 178 x 114.
The sitter stands in a hall in front of a sculptural relief, which appears to represent the musical contest between Apollo (sitting holding a lira da braccio) and Marsyas (standing playing pipes). The classical scene could allude to the sitter's humanistic interests or (more profoundly) to a spiritual conflict in his soul between the heavenly (represented by Apollo's music) and the earthly (represented by Marsyas's music). The identification of the picture with the portrait of Charles V’s ambassador Diego Hurtaldo de Mendoza, which Vasari says was painted in 1541 and established the fashion for full-length portraits, is doubtful. Apparently, Mendoza was a large, powerful man. The picture may be one recorded in an inventory of 1637 as a portrait of Donato Minerbetti by Titian.
*Portrait of Pietro Aretino. Canvas, 97 x 78.
The portrait was painted in 1545, and was a gift from Aretino to Cosimo I. This is documented by Vasari (who compares the painting favourably with another portrait of Aretino painted by Titian for Francesco Marcolini) and by Aretino himself in a letter accompanying the gift. In his letter, Aretino jokes that ‘the satins, velvets, and brocades would perhaps have been better done if Titian had received a few more scudi for working them out’. He was doubtless concerned that Titian’s broad brushstrokes would not be appreciated by those used to the higher finish and scintillating polish of Bronzino’s portraiture.
Titian painted several other portraits of Aretino. The earliest was done shortly after the writer arrived in Venice in 1527, and was sent to Federico Gonzaga. A canvas in the Kunstmuseum at Basel is usually regarded as a copy of this portrait but has occasionally been claimed as Titian's damaged original. (The latter view was recently revived by Xavier Salomon in an article in the September 2019 Apollo magazine.) A portrait in the Frick Museum, New York, is thought to have been painted by Titian around 1537 for Aretino's publisher Francesco Marcolini. Aretino also appears as a spectator in Titian's Allocution of Alfonso d'Avalos (1540-41) in the Prado, and he is portrayed as Pontius Pilate in Titian's great Ecce Homo (1543) at Vienna.
Aretino, an unrivalled self-publicist, also commissioned portraits from Sebastiano del Piombo, Tintoretto, Francesco Salviati,Vasari and Moretto da Brescia. All these portraits are either ruined (Sebastiano's) or lost. A fine engraved portrait by Marcantonio Raimondi dates from Aretino's early years in Rome. Some half-dozen portrait medals of Aretino (one by Alessandro Vittoria) also survive.
Portrait of Julius II after Raphael. Canvas, 99 x 82.
Usually (but not unanimously) believed to be Titian’s copy, seen by Vasari in the Duke of Urbino’s guardaroba, of Raphael’s portrait of 1511-12. The copy was probably painted in Rome in 1545-46 when Raphael’s original – almost certainly that now in the National Gallery, London – was hanging in the church of Santa Maria del Popolo. The portrait entered the Medici collections with the Della Rovere pictures in 1631. At one time, some art historians (including Johann David Passavant in his classic 1860 monograph on Raphael) believed it to be Raphael's original. It is, however, noticeably more Venetian in style (loosely painted) than the London or Uffizi versions.
The Redeemer. Wood, 78 x 55.
This bust-length profile figure of Christ against a sunset landscape was painted for Francesco Maria della Rovere. In July 1532 the Duke, through the architect Sebastiano Serlio, sent Titian a prototype on which to base his picture. The finished painting was delivered (together with a picture of Hannibal) by March 1534. It came to Florence in 1631 with the legacy of Vittoria della Rovere.
‘Madonna della Misericordia’. Canvas, 154 x 144.
Ordered from the very elderly Titian by Guidobaldo della Rovere in a letter of 5 May 1573. It was intended for the altar of a little chapel. The worshippers beneath the cloak are members of Titian's family (supposedly including Titian himself, his late father Gregorio, late brother Francesco, favourite son Orazio, late daughter Lavinia and second cousin Marco). Though most critics have found the execution too weak for Titian himself, the old artist may have provided the design. The picture is presumed to have come to Florence from Urbino in 1631 with the Della Rovere inheritence. But it is first recorded there only in 1815, and was first exhibited at the Pitti Palace in 1828 with attribution to Marco Vecellio. Restored in 1912, 1983 and 2016.
Portrait of Giulia Varano. Wood, 112 x 85.
Once supposed to be a portrait of Catherine de’ Medici by Tintoretto, this picture, which has an Urbino provenance, was identified by Georg Gronau in his 1904 monograph on Titian as the portrait known from letters of 1545-47 to have been painted by Titian of Giulia Varano, the young Duchess of Urbino. It seems that her husband Guidobaldo II della Rovere talked Titian into painting her in her absence. She assisted by sending the artist some sleeves (November 1546) and then a red damask dress (February 1547). The Duchess died suddenly (February 1548) at the age of only twenty-three, and there is no record of the portrait ever having been delivered. Though praised by Gronau, its discoverer, as one of Titian’s best female portraits, most critics have considered the Pitti portrait to be a workshop product or (as in the 2003 gallery catalogue) a copy.
Nativity. Wood, 93 x 112.
Ruined. Possibly the Nativity commissioned by Francesco Maria I della Rovere in summer 1532, along with a Bust of Christ (now at the Pitti Palace) and a Hannibal (lost). The Nativity was to be a gift for Francesco Maria's wife, Eleonora Gonzaga, who was expected a child; but it was not delivered until late 1533. There are several old copies still in the Marches (including one in the church of Sant'Agostino at Mondolfo). There is also a ruined version at Christ Church, Oxford.
Madonna and Child with St John and a Female Saint. Canvas, 93 x 130.
A variant – probably produced in Titian's workshop in the 1530s – of the beautiful painting ('Aldobrandini Madonna') in the National Gallery, London. In the prime National Gallery version, the infant St John is seated on the left, offering fruit and flowers to the Virgin. Here, he kneels with his lamb on the right. There are other variants in the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, and the British Royal Collection (Buckingham Palace).
Frankfurt. Städelsches Kunstinstitut.
Portrait of a Young Man with Red Hat. Canvas, 20 x 16.
Cut down (the portrait was possibly bust-length originally). The date 1516 is included in an inscription on the back of the canvas. The portrait entered the museum in 1881 from the collection of the restorer and painter Erasmus von Engert, and was first attributed to Titian in the 1900 catalogue. It is often compared with the Man with a Red Cap in the Frick Collection.
Glasgow. Kelvingrove Art Gallery.
*Christ and the Adulteress. Canvas, 139 x 182.
The subject is from the New Testament (John: 8, 3-7). Christ is seated outside the temple, where he had been teaching. The Pharisees have brought before him a woman caught committing adultery – an offense punishable by death. Asked for his judgement, Christ directs his reply to the self-righteous accusers, saying: 'Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her'. Christ alone wears biblical robes, while the other figures are dressed in the fashions of the day. The canvas has been cut down by some 50 cm on the right. A small fragment (47 x 41) of the missing strip, showing the portrait-like head of a man, has survived and was bought by the museum at Sotheby’s in 1971. The complete composition is recorded in a high-quality, full-scale early copy, once ascribed to Giovanni Cariani, in the Accademia Carrara at Bergamo. First certainly recorded in 1689 in Queen Christina’s collection at Rome; later in the Orléans collection in Paris; and among the paintings bequeathed to Glasgow’s municipal museum by its founder, the wealthy coach-builder Archibald McLellan, in 1854. The traditional attribution to Giorgione was unquestioned until the late nineteenth century. Attributions to Cariani and to Sebastiano del Pimbo then found some favour for a time. An attribution to the young Titian was not made until 1927 (by Roberto Longhi). It now enjoys majority support. A few critics, including Charles Hope (1980) and Paul Joannides (2001), have not accepted an attribution to either Giorgione or Titian. A third candidate (first suggested by Zampetti in the 1950s) is the very shadowy Domenico Mancini, who is known only as the author of an altarpiece, signed and dated 1511, at Lendinara.
Madonna and Child with St Jerome and St Dorothy. Canvas, 60 x 89.
The Virgin, seated against a tree and with the Child on her knee, turns towards St Dorothy, who holds flowers in her left hand and rests her right hand on a basket of pink and white roses. St Jerome, kneeling on the right with his lion behind him, reaches out to the Child. Like the Christ and the Adulteress, this attractive small sacra conversazione was bequeathed to the museum with the McLellan collection. It was engraved as a work of Titian in 1682 (by Valentin Lefebre) and in 1789 (by Johann Seuter). In his unofficial catalogue to the Venetian Exhibition at the New Gallery in 1895, the young Bernard Berenson reattributed the painting to 'Titian's clever follower' Polidoro Lanzani. There have been subsequent attributions to Titian's workshop (Valcanover's L'Opera Completa (1969)), to Titian's older brother Francesco Vecellio (Peter Humfrey in the catalogue of the 2004 Age of Titian exhibition at Edinburgh), and to a collaboration between Francesco Vecellio and Titian (Enrico Maria Dal Pozzolo in Studi Tizianeschi (2006)). Dal Pozzolo sees Titian's own hand in the figure of St Jerome. The picture is usually dated around 1520.
Ickworth House (near Bury St Edmonds, Suffolk).
Portrait of a Man. Canvas, 74 x 62.
In a pose reminiscent of the famous Barbarigo Portrait in the National Gallery, the youngish bearded man (once supposed to be Pietro Aretino) turns to look at us over his shoulder. A hand is shown, with a ring on the thumb. In the top background is a sketchily painted marble roundel of an unidentified subject. The painting, damaged and possibly cut down, is attributed to Titian as a very early portrait (early 1510s). Whether because of its condition or its out-of-the-way location, it has attracted little critical attention. It is accepted as autograph in Berenson's Venetian Painters (1957 Lists) and Wethey's Paintings of Titian (1971). It may have been acquired in Spain – either by the 2nd Earl of Bristol, when he was ambassador to Madrid in 1758-61, or by Lord William Hervey, when he was with the British Legation in the 1830s. The picture was accepted by the Exchequer in 1951 in lieu of inheritance tax and transferred to the National Trust in 1983.
Indianapolis. Museum of Art.
Portrait of a Man (Ludovico Ariosto?). Canvas, 60 x 46.
Auctioned as a work of Titian in London in 1930, this portrait was acquired in 1938 by Mr Booth Tarkington of Indianapolis, who presented it to the Herron Institute. It was badly damaged by water in an accident at the museum. Early (1512-16). Hans Tietze (in a letter of 1937 to the then owner) noted a resemblance between the sitter and portraits of Ludovico Ariosto (including the woodcut used as the frontispiece for Orlando Furioso), and suggested that the portrait was the one of the poet seen by Ridolfi (1648) in the house of the painter Nicolò Renier. Titian could have painted Ariosto's portrait in February-March 1516, when the painter stayed for some weeks at the Castello Estense in Ferrara. The canvas has been cut down at the bottom; the hands would have been included.
Portrait of Andrea de' Franceschi. Canvas, 87 x 68.
Andrea de' Franceschi (1473-1552) was elected Grand Chancellor of Venice in 1529 and he held this prestigious state office until his death. The portrait, which may date from around 1550, shows him as an old man, with silky white hair and sunken cheeks, wearing his official fur-lined crimson velvet robes. He tightly clutches a letter (the inscription on which is unfortunately no longer legible.) Better known portraits by Titian at Detroit and Washington show him in a nearly identical pose, but fifteen or twenty years younger. The picture (damaged by flaking and extensively restored) is not in good condition and the execution is usually now attributed to the workshop. From the collection of the Indianapolis research chemist George Henry Alexander Clowes, who acquired it from an Italian dealer in 1935. Placed on long-term loan with the museum in 1971 and donated in 2016.
Kansas City. William Rockhill Nelson Gallery.
Portrait of Antoine Perrenot, Cardinal Granvelle. Canvas, 112 x 88.
The sitter’s identity is confirmed by comparison with Antonio Moro’s portrait of him at Vienna. Antoine Perrenot, Cardinal Granvelle (1517-86), was the son of Nicolas Perrenot, Chancellor of Charles V. He served as ambassador to the emperor during negotiations for the marriage of Prince Philip with Queen Mary of England. The portrait (which is somewhat restored) was probably painted by Titian (and/or his workshop) in1548, when he also painted portraits of Antoine’s father (now in Besançon) and mother Nicole Bonvalet (lost). The ‘signature’ on the paper beside the clock is suspect. The portrait is not certainly recorded before 1847, when it was sold by Claudius Tassel of Paris. Acquired by the Kansas City museum in 1930.
*Portrait of a Nobleman ('Kassel Cavalier' or so-called ‘Duke of Atri’). Canvas, 230 x 153.
The man is portrayed both as a soldier and a huntsman. He stands with a swagger, ostentatiously dressed in a red armoured jacket (brigandine) decorated in gold, red trunk hose and a plumed, turban-like hat. He holds a hunting spear and a hound rubs against his legs. On the ground to his right, a cupid supports a crimson dragon-crested helmet. The portrait, with its splendid impressionistic mountainous landscape, is clearly a late work and is generally dated to the 1550s.
The identification of the picture as the portrait of the Duke of Atri mentioned in two letters by Pietro Aretino, dated August and December 1552, was first proposed in 1894 by Carl Justi. Giovanni Acquaviva d’Aragon (1510-69), the self-styled Duke of Atri, was a Neapolitan nobleman living in exile at the French court. The identification has often been doubted. (A profile portrait medal of Acquaviva by Alessandro Vittoria bears no very strong likeness to the sitter.) A more recent suggestion is that the subject is Ferrante Gonzaga, who succeeded Alfonso d’Avalos as Governor of Milan in 1545 and was eulogised as the ‘new Mars’ by Aretino in a sonnet of 1549. Comparisons with known likenesses of Ferrante – a (poor) inscribed portrait by Cristofano dell'Altissimo at the Uffizi, a profile portrait medal by Leone Leoni, and Leoni's bronze monument at Guastalla – show a degree of resemblance, but are hardly conclusive. The latest proposal (made by Ian Kennedy in the October 2020 issue of Colnaghi Studies) identifies the sitter as Niccolò Bernardino Sanseverino, Prince of Bisignano, who was betrothed in 1565 to Isabella, daughter of Guidobaldo II della Rovere, Duke of Urbino. An inventory drawn up in Pesaro in 1623-64 records a portrait of the Prince of Bisignano 'on foot with a sword at his side in Spanish dress'. However, as the inventory description is quite summary (failing to mention the dog, spear, cupid and artist's name) and as there are no authentic portraits of the Prince of Bisignano for comparison, this identification is also conjectural. Once in the collection of the Duc de Tallard, the picture was acquired in Paris by Wilhelm VIII of Hesse-Kassel in 1756.
Kingston Lacy (Dorset). The Bankes Collection.
Portrait of Nicolò Zen. Canvas, 123 x 96.
The sitter was once thought to be Francesco Savorgnan. His true identity was recently established from a labelled copy of this portrait. Nicolò Zen or Zeno or Zono (1515-65) was a Venetian patrician, patron of Palladio, editor of Vitruvius and holder of many high state offices. The portrait has been variously dated between the late 1540s and mid-1560s. It was acquired by Henry Bankes from the Marescalchi collection in Bologna in about 1820, possibly on the advice of Lord Byron. It has been recently suggested (by Ornetta Pinessi in Arte Documento (2007)) that the same sitter is represented, rather older, in Tintoretto's Man with a Gold Chain in the Prado.
Kromeríz. Archbishop’s Palace.
*The Flaying of Marsyas. Canvas, 212 x 207.
In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the satyr Marsyas lost to the god Apollo in a musical contest and was condemned to be flayed alive. Apollo could be either the musician on the left or the kneeling executor, crowned with laurel, on the right (or both). The head of the elderly Midas, on the right, is sometimes taken to be a self-portrait. The composition seems to have been based on a preparatory drawing (now in the Louvre) for a fresco (now very damaged) by Giulio Romano in the Palazzo del Te at Mantua. Titian has added two dogs to Giulio Romano's composition: a small terrier that licks up Marsyas's blood that has dripped onto the ground and a fierce hunting hound salivating on the right. The fragmentary signature on the rock in the right foreground suggests that the picture can be regarded as finished, in spite of the very sketchy brushwork. Probably bought in Italy by Lady Arundel in about 1620, and acquired at a lottery by the Bishop of Olmutz in 1673 for the archiepiscopal palace at Kremsier (Kromeríz). Though consistently attributed to Titian in old inventories, the picture was forgotten until 1909, when it was cited as a Titian by Frimmel. It is now regarded as an important very late work (after 1570), and has become more widely known since its inclusion in many major international loan exhibitions. Unusually for a late work of Titian, there are no other versions or replicas.
Leeds. Harewood House.
Portrait of Francis I. Canvas, 92 x 76.
Another version of the profile portrait of around 1538 in the Louvre. Thinly painted, it is probably either a preliminary study or studio sketch replica (ricordo). Along with a portrait of Philip II (now at Cincinnati) and a portrait of Doge Andrea Gritti (now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York), it was acquired in the late nineteenth century by the German painter Franz von Lenbach from the collection of Conte Sebastiano Giustiniani Barbarigo at Padua. It is assumed that the portraits were among the works from Titian's studio purchased by Cristoforo Barbarigo in 1581 from Titian's son Pomponio Vecellio. The Francis I was bought by the Earl of Harewood at Agnew's in 1918 for £15,000. The impressive Renaissance revival frame was made in Florence around 1925 by Ferruccio Vannoni.
London. National Gallery.
Holy Family and Shepherd. Canvas, 99 x 137.
The subject seems to be the Adoration of the Shepherds, to whom an angel announces Christ's birth in the right distance. However, the treatment is unusual in showing only one shepherd kneeling in the foreground. The attribution was sometimes doubted in the past (Paris Bordone being the most favoured alternative) because of weaknesses in the drawing (the Madonna seems too small and St Joseph’s head seems too big). But lapses of draughtsmanship are not uncommon with the young Titian, and the picture is now generally accepted as an authentic very early work (about 1510?). Until the end of the eighteenth century it was in the Palazzo Borghese in Rome, where it had been recorded (as a Titian) in 1693. It was brought to England by William Young Ottley (an English scholar and amateur artist who had acquired works from several patrician Roman collections during the Napoleonic invasion of Italy); auctioned in London in 1801; and bequeathed to the National Gallery in 1831 with the collection of the Reverend Holwell Carr.
*Portrait of a Man with a Quilted Sleeeve (‘Ariosto’). Canvas, 81 x 66.
The intials ‘T V’ appear on the (much restored) parapet. This superb portrait is one of Titian’s earliest: it was almost certainly painted by 1512 (the date of a portrait in the Hermitage that appears to have been inspired by it) and has sometimes been dated as early as 1508. It was engraved as a portrait of the poet Ludovico Ariosto in 1639, when it was owned by the Amsterdam art dealer and jeweller Alphonso Lopez, and it is probably the ‘Ariosto Poeta’ recorded in a 1644 inventory of pictures that had belonged to Van Dyck in England. It was still regarded as a portrait of Ariosto in the nineteenth century, but the sitter bears little resemblance to authentic likenesses of the poet (eg. Titian’s woodcut design for the 1532 edition of Orlando Furioso).
In 1895, Jean Paul Richter suggested that the portrait could be one, mentioned by Vasari and painted when Titian was ‘no more than eighteen’, of a ‘gentleman of the house of Barbarigo’ in which ‘the flesh seemed true and natural, the hairs so precisely drawn that you could count them, as you could the stitches in the doublet of silvery satin’. Richter’s theory, with its implied very early dating of the painting, had some initial success. It was later abandoned, but has been recently revived. In an article in the January 2012 Burlington Magazine, Antonio Mazzotta suggested that the sitter could be a Gerolamo Barbarigo, grandson of Doge Marco and nephew of Doge Agostino, who is shown as a donor in the predella of an altarpiece of 1524 by Andrea Previtali (Bergamo Cathedral). An alternative theory (suggested by Cecil Gould in the 1975 National Gallery catalogue) is that the painting is a self-portrait. While there are no authenticated likenesses of the young Titian, the sitter does have the protruding chin and underbite conspicuous in portraits of the artist as an old man.
The painting was imported into England during the French Revolution by the dealer Le Brun and was acquired, probably around 1793, by the 4th Earl of Darnley. It remained at Cobham Hall, the Darnley's Seat at Rochester in Kent, until 1904, when it was bought by the National Gallery for £30,000 through the mediation of the Scottish art dealer and collector Sir George Donaldson. (The price was remarkable for such a small painting and far exceeded the highest sum previously paid for a Titian – £20,500 by Isabella Stewart Gardner for the Rape of Europa.) At this time, some art historians (including Roger Fry) favoured an attribution to Giorgione. The sitter’s pose, with the right arm resting on a parapet, was adopted by Rembrandt for his ‘Self-portrait Aged 34’, which is also in the National Gallery.
*‘La Schiavona’. Canvas, 118 x 97.
The raised part of the parapet was evidently added later; the reddish-brown dress clearly shows through the grey of the marble. The portrait relief on it bears a distinct resemblance to the sitter herself in profile, though it could conceivably commemorate a member of her family (her dead mother?). A very early portrait; the same woman may well be depicted in profile as the mother in the Padua fresco of the Miracle of the New Born Child (1511). Described as La Schiavona (the ‘Slav Woman’) by Titian as early as 1640, when in the possession of the Martinengo family at Brescia. It was acquired in 1914 by Herbert Cook (who, in spite of Titian’s initials on the parapet, tried to identify it as a portrait of Caterina Cornaro by Giorgione); presented by his son, Sir Francis Cook, in 1942.
*‘Noli Me Tangere’. Canvas, 109 x 91.
Mary Magdalene, kneeling and with her hand on her jar of ointment, reaches out towards the resurrected Christ. But he sways away from her, saying: 'Touch me not [Noli me tangere]; for I am not yet ascended to my father' (John 20: 17). An early work (about 1511-15). The landscape is particularly Giorgionesque. The same group of buildings recurs in the Borghese Sacred and Profane Love and the Dresden Venus (the latter started by Giorgione and finished by Titian). X-rays reveal radical changes in the composition (there was originally a hill with buildings in the landscape on the left), which was evidently worked out directly on the canvas without the use of preliminary drawings. As in other early paintings by Titian, the landscape has acquired a brownish tone through the oxidisation of the copper resinates in the green pigment. The sky, which was badly worn, was extensively restored in 1957.
The picture is first recorded by Ridolfi (1648) in the celebrated collection formed at Verona by the wealthy merchant Giacomo Muselli. The cream of the collection was sold by two of Muselli's grandsons in 1685-86 to the agents of Jean-Baptste Colbert, Marquis de Seignelay, and taken to France. The Noli Me Tangere later passed into the collection of the Duc d'Orléans, which was dispersed in London at the end of the eighteenth century. Acquired in 1820 by the banker and poet Samuel Rogers, who bequeathed it to the National Gallery in 1856.
**Bacchus and Ariadne. Canvas, 175 x 190.
Painted in 1522-23, and one of three Bacchanals commissioned from Titian for the studio of Alfonso d’Este (Camerino d’Alabastro) in the Castello at Ferrara. The other two are now in the Prado. Giovanni Bellini’s Feast of the Gods (dated 1514) at Washington was also painted for Duke Alfonso’s studio; Titian altered the background (probably in 1524 or 1529) to make it fit in better with the landscapes of his own three pictures. The four pictures were reunited in 2003, for the first time since their dispersal in 1621, in an exhibition at the National Gallery. The subject matter of the Bacchus and Ariadne appears to draw on a number of classical writers (Catullus, Ovid and Philostratus) and may have been determined in detail by Alfonso himself. Ariadne, abandoned by Theseus on the island of Naxos, is surprised by Bacchus’s entourage of satyrs and baccantes; he leaps from his chariot, drawn by two cheetahs, and promises her marriage and a constellation of stars. Some figures derive from antique sculpture. The most obvious quotation is from the famous marble group of the Laocoön (the satyr in the right foreground struggling with snakes), while the figure of the leaping Bacchus seems to derive from a carving of the avenging Orestes on a Roman sarcophagus.
The picture remained at Ferrara until 1598, when it was appropriated by Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini and taken to Rome. It was acquired from the Villa Aldobrandini by Alexander Day in about 1797 and brought to England. Purchased by the National Gallery in 1826 from the fashionable London goldsmith and jeweller Thomas Hamlet for the then staggering price of £5,000. The extraordinary intensity of the blue sky may be due to the loss, through cleaning, of a subduing overlay of final glazes.
*Madonna and Child with St John and a Female Saint ('Aldobrandini Madonna'). Canvas, 101 x 142.
The kneeling woman holding the Child is usually assumed to be St Catherine, but she has none of the saint’s usual attributes. A signature and date (1533) have disappeared with cleaning, but may not have been genuine. Possibly ‘the picture of Our Lady in a landscape with the Christ Child and infant St John and a female saint … from the hand of Titian’ seen by Marcantonio Michiel in the house of Andrea Odoni in Venice in 1532. It is recorded in the huge inventory (drawn up in 1603) of the possessions of Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini, and was probably one of the pictures presented to Philip IV of Spain by the Duke de Medina on his return from Italy. It disappeared from the Escorial during the Napoleonic invasion, and was bought by the National Gallery with the Beaucousin collection in 1860. There are variants, probably made in Titian’s studio from the same cartoon, in the Pitti Palace, Florence, and the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth. A slightly smaller picture in the British Royal Collection repeats the Madonna, but the Child is different, both St John and the female saint are omitted, and Tobias and the Angel replace the shepherds in the background.
*The Vendramin Family. Canvas, 206 x 301.
Titian’s largest group portrait. It was once thought to be a portrait of the Cornaro family; the correct identification was unearthed by Gronau in 1925. Andrea Vendramin with his seven sons and brother Gabriele venerate the miracle-working reliquary of the True Cross – the rescue of which by an ancestor, another Andrea Vendramin, is illustrated by Gentile Bellini’s picture in the Accademia, Venice. The silver-gilt and rock crystal reliquary, brought to Venice from the Holy Land by Philippe de Mezières in 1369, still belongs to the Scuola di San Giovanni Evangelista. The painting must have been started by 1547, since both Andrea and his son Lunardo died in that year. Nicholas Penny, in his 2008 gallery catalogue, thinks that it was begun in the early 1540s but not completed until the 1550s. He ascribes the heads of the three boys on the left to an assistant (possibly Orazio Vecellio or Girolamo Dente). The picture is recorded in an inventory of Gabriele Vendramin in 1569 and was still in Venice in 1636. By 1641 it had entered the collection of Van Dyck in London, whose ‘Titian room’ allegedly contained some twenty portraits by the artist. After Van Dyck’s death, it passed from Sir Richard Price (who had married his widow) to Sir John Wittewronge in discharge of a debt, and thence in 1645 to Algernon Percy, Earl of Northumberland. Purchased by the National Gallery in 1929 for £122,000 from the Duke of Northumberland, pre-empting a sale to Duveen. The sky is particularly worn and pentimenti are visible to the naked eye (eg. an earlier version of the head of the young man on the left is seen behind his shoulder).
The Tribute Money. Canvas, 109 x 102.
This is Titian's second painting of a subject that is quite rare in Italian art. The first – one of his early masterpieces – was painted for Alfonso d'Este and is now at Dresden. The National Gallery picture is a very late work, and its attribution was often questioned in the past (Cavalcaselle proposed Palma Giovane, the 1929 National Gallery catalogue suggested Paris Bordone, and both Tietze and Berenson gave the picture to Titian’s workshop). However, the signature (on the pilaster) is genuine, and the picture is almost certainly the Tribute Money sent by Titian to Philip II in October 1568 and presented to the Escorial in 1574. It was one of six paintings, plundered from the Escorial, that were given by Joseph Bonaparte in 1809 to one of his generals, Marechal Soult. It was bought for 62,000 francs (£2,604) by the National Gallery when Soult’s collection was sold in Paris in 1852. The purchase was highly controversial and contributed to the holding of a Parliamentary inquiry in 1853 that led to fundamental reform of the museum's governance.
An Allegory of Prudence. Canvas, 76 x 69.
The Latin inscription at the top means: ‘the present does well to profit by the past when planning future action.’ The three heads used to be identified as Alfonso d’Este, Julius II and Charles V. They are now often believed to represent three generations of the Vecellio family workshop: Titian himself in old age; his son Orazio; and (more speculatively) a young cousin Marco. The corresponding animal heads are thought to represent the past (the wolf), the present (the lion) and the future (the dog). Generally regarded as a late work (the age of Marco, born 1545, points to a date after 1560); Penny (2008) thought that, stylistically, it could date from either the 1550s or 1560s. The finish is uneven: the elderly profile and the animal heads are roughly sketched while the two younger heads are more smoothly executed. Some critics have attributed this variation to the intervention of an assistant, while others have posited that the picture was finished or reworked in Titian's loose late style some years after it had been started. It is uncertain whether the unusual painting was a picture in its own right or had some other purpose. (It has been variously suggested that it formed the cover of a portrait, part of the frieze in the decoration of a room and even a cupboard door.) First recorded in the Crozat collection, Paris, in 1740. Sold for 660 livres in 1756 at the Paris sale of the Duc de Tallard’s collection, and later owned by Lucian Bonaparte, the Earl of Aberdeen and Alfred de Rothschild. Presented by the art dealer David Koetser, 1966.
*The Death of Actaeon. Canvas, 179 x 198.
The subject, rare in Italian art, is from Book III of Ovid's Metamorphoses. Actaeon, transformed into a stag, is torn to death by his hounds for accidentally spying on Diana. The canvas is one of the last of the series of poesie painted by the elderly Titian for Philip II. It is the sequel of the Diana surprised by Actaeon (now shared by the National Galleries in London and Edinburgh) and was conceived around the same time as the Rape of Europa (Boston). The four others in the series are: Danaë (previously assumed to be the well known picture in the Prado, Madrid, but recently identified with a damaged version at Apsley House, London); Venus and Adonis (Prado); Diana discovering Callisto (Edinburgh/ London); and Perseus and Andromeda (Wallace Collection).
Titian’s intention to paint a picture of this subject is mentioned in a letter to Philip II of 19 June 1559, but the work on it was probably done mainly from the mid-1560s. The picture was never sent to Spain, and it has been much debated whether this sketchily executed, almost monochromatic picture was ever completely finished. Some minor details – the string of Diana's bow, the arrow she fires and the crescent moon that normally adorns her forehead – are missing. It has been suggested that the figure of Diana was worked on by assistants (perhaps to make the canvas more saleable after Titian’s death). The face has been retouched by restorers.
The canvas was one of many important pictures acquired in Venice for the Duke of Hamilton in the late 1630s from Bartolomeo della Nave and then purchased, after the Duke’s execution in 1649, by Archduke Leopold Wilhelm. By 1662/3 it had passed, probably as a gift, into Queen Christina’s collection at the Palazzo Riario in Rome, and it was later with Prince Odescalchi (Rome), the Duc d’Orléans (Paris), and Earl Brownlow and the Earl of Harewood (England). It was purchased for the National Gallery in 1972, after an export licence applied for by the Getty Museum had been refused. All seven poesie painted for Philip of Spain were reunited for an exhibition held at the National Gallery in March-June 2020.
Madonna and Child. Canvas, 76 x 63.
A work of Titian’s very old age (about 1565-70). The same composition is reversed in Titian’s altarpiece for his family chapel at Pieve di Cadore. Conceivably the Madonna seen by the Marchese di Ayamonte when he visited Titian’s studio with the Spanish ambassador in July 1573 and which was sent to Ayamonte in November. First certainly recorded only in 1847, when it was one of sixty paintings bought by the future Earl of Dudley from Count Bisenzo for 36,000 scudi. Bought at the Dudley sale in 1892 by Ludwig Mond, who displayed it on an easel in his library. Bequeathed in 1924.
Venus and Adonis. Canvas, 177 x 187.
One of many copies and variants of the original of 1553-54 in the Prado. Previously considered a work of Titian himself. Re-attributed to his studio since cleaning in 1973 – though Nicholas Penny (2008) thinks that it may have been painted over a brush drawing by Titian and that Titian may have finished a few parts himself (including Adonis’s head and Venus’s hair). The London version is a particularly close replica of the Prado painting, and was possibly a ricordo – a record of the composition kept in Titian's when the original was sent to Spain – from which other versions were made. Documented in 1783 in the Palazzo Colonna, Rome. Purchased with the Angerstein collection in 1824.
Portrait of Girolamo Fracastoro. Canvas, 84 x 74.
He is heavily bearded, wears a coat with a large lynx-fur collar and rests his right arm on a parapet in a pose rather like that of the so-called Ariosto (also in the National Gallery). His name is given on a label stuck to the canvas, and comparisons with portrait medals and woodcut portraits of Fracastoro make the identification plausible. Girolamo Fracastoro (1476/8-1553) was a distinguished Veronese physician, who published an important treatise (De Contagione (1546)) on the transmission of infection. Vasari says that Titian painted his portrait, and the National Gallery picture is almost certainly the 'portrait of the celebrated Fracastoro' recorded in 1824-52 in the collection of Conte Teodoro Lechi of Brescia. It entered the National Gallery with the Mond collection in 1924 with an attribution to Francesco Torbido (who also painted Fracastoro's portrait according to Vasari). The portrait was later catalogued as 'after Titian' and ignored for many years. However, the attribution to Titian has been recently revived, and the picture, previously obscured by old varnish and retouching, has been cleaned. (See the article by Jill Dunkerton, Jennifer Fletcher and Paul Joannides in the January 2013 Burlington Magazine). Cleaning showed the flesh paint to be very thin and worn and exposed many paint losses around the edges. The portrait might date from the late 1520s. The theatrical 'Sansovino' frame, which was fitted to the picture after the recent restoration, probably dates from the late sixteenth century.
The Music Lesson (A Concert). Canvas, 99 x 120.
A man in a voluminous purple robe beats time with his index finger as he follows the notes in a music book held up by a boy singer. A young woman leans on his shoulder, and young men in plumed hats play a bass viol and recorder. The picture is in poor condition: the faces are particularly badly worn, presumably as a result of old attempts at cleaning. It is recorded as a work of Titian in inventories of the Gonzaga collection at Mantua (1627) and Charles I's collection at Whitehall (1630), and was still attributed to TItian in 1824, when it was purchased with the Angerstein collection for the new National Gallery. However, Crowe and Cavalcaselle (1877) thought it 'far below Titian's powers', and the National Gallery subsequently downgraded it to 'school' or 'imitator' of Titian. The picture was then almost completely forgotten until a reappraisal, following the removal of thick layers of varnish in a recent restoration, was published by Jill Dunkerton in the October 2013 Burlington Magazine. The old attribution to Titian was revived and a dating around the mid-1530s proposed. Other experts have yet to publish opinions on the reattribution, but the condition of the picture must make judgement unusually difficult.
Boy with a Bird. Canvas, 35 x 49.
The boy has no wings but is otherwise nearly identical to the Cupid embracing a dove that appears in the background of some later versions of Titian's Venus and Adonis (including those in New York and Washington). The small canvas was previously thought to be a seventeenth-century pastiche. However, technical analysis (reported in an article by Paul Joannides and Jill Dunkerton in a 2007 issue of the National Gallery's Technical Bulletin) suggests that the picture was done in Titian's workshop, as it was painted over a pastoral scene (Landscape with a Milkmaid) designed by Titian and reproduced as a woodcut in the late 1520s. The National Gallery, accordingly, has reattributed it to 'Titian or Titian workshop'. Bequeathed to the nation in 1876 with the collection of the wealthy haberdasher and Liberal politician Wynne Ellis.
**Diana surprised by Actaeon; **Diana discovering Callisto.
See the entries for the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, where the two paintings were formerly on loan from the Duke of Sutherland's collection. Following their acquisition for the nation in 2009 and 2012, they are to be exhibited together, on a rotating basis, for six years in London and four years in Edinburgh.
London. National Gallery (on long-term loan from the Earl of Halifax).
*Portrait of a Young Man (The 'Temple Newsam Portrait'). Canvas, 100 x 84.
A superb early portrait (1515-20?). The young man holds in his right hand a large cap with a jewelled badge. On the left side is a sculptured relief (now darkened and difficult to see in reproductions) of a scrolled tablet with the letter C, a mask and vine leaves. The picture is first recorded in 1808 in the collection of the Ingram family at Temple Newsam House (near Leeds). It was inherited, with the Temple Newsam estate, in 1904 by Edward Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax. The sitter was traditionally called Martin Bucer, the German Protestant reformer. The identification is improbable, but it is conceivable that the young man was a member of the substantial German community living in Venice. The portrait was sometimes attributed to Giorgione in the past. (As late as 1960, it was exhibited at the Royal Academy as 'Giorgione or Titian'.)
The picture was on loan to the National Gallery from 1992 until 2005, when it was put on the market. An offer from the National Gallery, reputedly worth £55 million (after tax), was turned down. The picture was subsequenty, in 2009, returned to the National Gallery on loan.
London. British Museum.
Submersion of Pharaoh's Army in the Red Sea. Woodcut, 121 x 221.
Moses (thrusting out his rod) and the Israelites watch from a safe headland on the right, as Pharaoh's host flounders in the rising waters. The city on the horizon presumably represents Egypt, but resembles Venice under stormy skies. This spectacular wood engraving, one of the largest ever made, is printed from twelve blocks on twelve separate sheets of paper to form a wall decoration some four feet high and seven feet wide. It is mentioned in February 1515 in a petition by the Bergamask printer Bernardino Benalio to the Venetian Senate. However, no original print has survived, and the woodcut is known only in a later edition, printed in 1549 by Domenico dalle Greche, who appears to have acquired the blocks after Benalio's death, and added the cartouche with his own name and the date. The identity of the craftsman who engraved the blocks for Titian is unknown. The superb quality of the print, with its bold and fluent line, strongly suggests that Titian participated closely in the production process, probably drawing directly on the blocks himself.
The Old Testament subject is perhaps being used as a metaphor for Venice's own survival in the face of overwhelming odds. When Titian was designing the print, the city was threatened by the League of Cambrai, whose German mercenaries invading from the north are perhaps being likened to the Egyptians.
Many museums have fragments of the woodcut, but complete impressions are rare. The British Museum has one, as do the Fine Arts Museum at Budapest, the Cleveland Art Museum and the Fogg Museum at Harvard, while the Art Institute of Chicago has an unassembled complete set of the twelve prints. A fine complete impression was sold in January 2013 (Rockefeller Plaza, New York) for $854,500.
Annunciation (engraving by Caraglio after a lost Titian). Paper, 45 x 34.
This fine engraving by Giovanni Jacopo Caraglio was probably made in 1537 under Titian's supervision. It records the composition of a lost Annunciation of 1535-36. The original picture – a very large canvas more than five metres high – was painted by Titian for the high altar of the Augustinian convent church of Santa Maria degli Angeli on the island of Murano. When the nuns of the convent refused to pay Titian the 500 ducats he demanded, he sent the picture to Empress Isabella of Spain, wife of Charles V, who is said to have rewarded him with 2,000 scudi. Until the early nineteenth century, the picture hung in the chapel of the Royal Palace at Aranjuéz. It disappeared without trace at the end of the Spanish Peninsular War.
An old painting of the Annunciation (129 x 88) in the Roman Catholic church of Our Lady and Saint Andrew at Galashiels in the Scottish borders is almost identical in composition to Caraglio's engraving. It was published in 2013 (by Aidan Weston-Lewis in Artibus et Historiae) as a workshop record (ricordo) or early copy of Titian's lost altarpiece.
Caraglio's engraving of Titian's composition seems to have been highly influential. The figures of the Virgin and Angel Gabriel are largely repeated in paintings of the Annunciation by Girolamo da Santacroce (versions in the Columbia and Minneapolis Museums of Art), Pulzone Scipione (Capodimonte Museum, Naples) and El Greco (sold at Sotheby's, New York, in January 2014).
Vision of Saint Eustace. Pen and ink drawing on paper, 22 x 32.
Saint Eustace, having dismounted from his horse, kneels before a vision he sees in the wood of a stag with a crucifix between its antlers. On the hill to the right are the ruins of a viaduct or aquaduct. Titian, the tirelessly prolific painter, left comparatively few drawings. The Saint Eustace, executed in brown ink on off-white paper, is one of the best known drawings attributed to him. The main alternative attribution (first proposed in 1891 by Giovanni Morelli) is to Domenico Campagnola, who made many drawings and prints of Arcadian landscapes in the style of Giorgione, early Titian and Giulio Campagnola (his master and adoptive father). The Saint Eustace is usually dated quite early in Titian's career (1515-25). It is lightly squared for transfer, but no painting or engraving of the scene is known.
Two Musicians in a Landscape. Pen and ink drawing on paper, 22 x 23.
The woman, seen from behind, closely resembles the female figure in the Louvre Fête Champêtre. She plays a pipe or flute, while the man plays a highly ornamental viola da gamba. Sheep lie under the tree behind the man, and a broad, sloping landscape is lightly sketched to the right. Brown ink is used for most of the drawing, but the woman is more delicately executed in black ink. The name 'Castelfranco' [ie. Giorgione] and the date '1508' are inscribed on the back of the sheet. The drawing was reproduced as a work of Titian by Valentin Lefebre (whose Opera Selectoria of etchings after Titian and Veronese was published posthumously in 1682). Modern writers have often viewed the drawing as a pastiche by a contemporary imitator of Titian (sometimes identified as Domenico Campagnola). The British Museum has retained the Titian attribution, however, and the drawing was exhibited with an attribution to Titian at the National Gallery in 2012 (Titian: A Fresh Look at Nature) and at the Royal Academy in 2016 (In the Age of Giorgione).
London. Wallace Collection.
*Perseus and Andromeda. Canvas, 183 x 199.
The subject is from Ovid's Metamorphoses (Book IV). The hero Perseus, wearing his winged helmet and sandals, swoops down to rescue Andromeda, who is chained naked to a rock as a sacrifice to the sea monster. One of the sources for Titian’s composition may have been the bas-relief on the base of Cellini’s Perseus, the model for which Titian could have seen on his only visit to Florence in 1546. X-rays reveal that Titian made radical changes to the composition; the Andromeda was initially placed on the right.
The picture was mentioned in a letter from Titian to Philip II in 1554 congratulating Philip on his marriage to Mary Tudor, and appears to have been sent to Flanders in 1556. It was later owned by Van Dyck, whose executors sold it, along with the Vendramin Family (now in the National Gallery), to the 10th Earl of Northumberland. By 1724 it had entered the great collection at Paris of Louis-Philiippe-Joseph, Duc d'Orléans. It returned to England in 1798, when the Orléans collection was sent to London for sale. It seems to have remained unsold until 1803-84, when it was apparently acquired by the Revd Frederick Hamilton (whose younger brother, William Hamilton, was the British Ambassador to Naples and the husband of Nelson's mistress Emma Hamilton). The 3rd Marquess of Hertford bought it at auction in 1815 for the comparatively low price of £362 10s (it had been valued at £700 in 1798).
The painting was subsequently neglected. Variously described as School of Titian, Veronese and Domenichino, it spent many years stored in a lumber room and then hung in Sir Richard Wallace's bathroom at Hertford House. It was rediscovered in bad condition in 1898 by Claude Phillips, first keeper of the Wallace Collection, who published it as a work of Titian in the first edition of the museum's catalogue in 1900. Restoration in 1980-81 removed old discoloured varnish and many layers of repaint. The original paint surface is very abraded and there are numerous losses.
Veronese reversed Titian's composition for his Perseus and Andromeda at Rennes. Veronese's painting in turn inspired an Andromeda by the eighteenth-century French painter François Le Moyne (also now in the Wallace Collection).
Cupid complaining to Venus ('L'Amour Piqué'). Canvas, 112 x 140.
The picture illustrates an ancient Greek fable found in Theocritus's Idylls and Anacreon's Odes. Cupid, stung while stealing a honeycomb, seeks comfort from his mother Venus, but is told that bee stings are less painful than his arrows. Recorded in the celebrated collection of the Duc d'Orléans at the Palais-Royal as a work of Giorgione. It retained this attribution when sold in London in 1802 and when bought by Lord Hertford in 1859 for 1,250 gns. The picture is not, however, especially Giorgionesque, but is in the style of works of Titian's early maturity (around 1515-25). It is very worn and partly repainted; and probably as a result, it has attracted comparatively little critical attention. Opinion in the earlier part of the twentieth century was mostly unfavourable. Claude Philips, the Wallace Collection's first keeper, catalogued the picture in 1901 as 'too weak in construction ... too weak in execution' to be by Titian, and attributions were made to Titian's brother Francesco (Baron von Hadeln) and to a follower of Palma Vecchio (Charles Holmes). The painting was called 'Titian' in the 1968 museum catalogue, but was later relegated to 'attributed to Titian' and then 'follower of Titian'. It is currently 'ascribed to Titian'. The picture is hung high and is rather difficult to see.
London. Royal Collection.
*Portrait of a Man (Jacopo Sannazzaro?). Canvas, 86 x 73.
A Dutch gift to Charles II in 1660. Ascribed to Titian or Giorgione in old inventories, and said to represent Boccaccio and later Alessandro de’Medici. An old copy identifies the sitter as the Neapolitan poet Jacopo Sannazzaro (1458-1530), author of Arcadia. Sannazzaro would have been in his fifties at least when the portrait was painted. The man represented appears much younger, but he does bear some resemblance to portrait medals of the poet and it is not inconceivable that Titian based his portrait on an earlier picture. Somewhat rubbed and damaged, but generally now accepted as an early Titian (1514-18?). The portrait currently hangs in the Picture Gallery at Buckingham Palace.
‘The Lovers’ (Cornelia Fainting?). Canvas, 75 x 66.
The young woman appears to have swooned in the arms of the young man, who feels her heart. Another man, behind on the right, looks on. Quaintly called A Sick Lady, Her Husband and a Physician in the nineteenth-century, it is uncertain whether the picture depicts a contemporary love scene or illustrates an episode from classical literature. A roughly contemporary print by Zoan Andrea, showing a couple in a similar composition, is simply called The Lovers. Another version of the painting, in the Casa Buonarotti at Florence, was once known as the Death of Lucretia and has been identified with a Titian mentioned by Ridolfi (1648) of ‘Cornelia fainting in the arms of Pompey’. In the past, both versions have been regarded as copies of a lost early Titian of about 1510-15. The numerous pentimenti (eg. the woman was originally dressed more modestly) and spontaneous underdrawing revealed by X-rays suggest that the Royal Collection version could be Titian’s original, though attribution is made difficult by the picture’s poor condition. The upper half is particularly damaged and restored. In Charles I’s collection; sold by the Commonwealth but recovered at the Restoration. The picture currently hangs in the 'KIng's Closet' at Windsor Castle.
Virgin and Child in a Landscape. Wood, 85 x 120.
One of at least three variants, probably made in Titian’s studio, of the Madonna and Child with St John and a Female Saint of 1532/3(?) in the National Gallery, London. The Virgin was probably traced from the same cartoon. But the pose of the Child, stretching to take a red rose, is quite different. The freely painted figures of Tobias and the Angel in the right background resemble those in Titian’s picture from the Venetian church of San Marziale (now in Madonna dell’Orto). Possibly painted for the Venetian Dalla Torre family, whose coat-of-arms originally appeared in the centre foreground (now overpainted with another shield). Dutch gift to Charles II. Newly cleaned, it was exhibited as ‘Titian and workshop, c.1535-40’ at the Art in Italy show at the Queen’s Gallery in 2007.
Shepherd Boy with a Pipe. Canvas, 63 x 49.
This severely damaged painting is traditionally ascribed to Giorgione. While it is still generally agreed that the conception is Giorgione’s, an attribution to the young Titian was suggested by John Shearman in his 1983 catalogue of the early Italian paintings in the Royal Collection. It has attracted recent support, and it was as an early Titian that the picture was included in the 2007 Art in Italy exhibition. The head is largely old restoration. The white shirt is better preserved. From Charles I’s collection. The picture currently hangs in the 'King's Closet' at Windsor Castle.
Lucretia. Canvas, 109 x 64.
She is shown full-length, naked except for a strip of crimson drapery held over her head, about to stab herself with the dagger in her right hand. Recorded in the 1627 inventory of the Gonzaga collection as ‘a nude Roman Lucretia by Titian’. Acquired by Charles I, sold after his execution, but reacquired by Charles II. In poor condition, and the Titian attribution has often been doubted. An attribution to the painter's younger brother Francesco Vecellio has been suggested (and has now been tentatively adopted by the Royal Collection Trust). The picture currently hangs in the 'Middle Closet' at Hampton Court Palace.
London. Apsley House.
Danaë. Canvas, 115 x 194.
The legend of the seduction of Danaë by Jupiter, who disguised himself as a shower of gold, is told in Ovid's Metamorphoses. Titian's first version of this subject was painted for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese in 1544-46 and is now at Naples. In 1551-4, a new version was painted for Philip II. Until recently, it had been universally assumed that this is the Danaë in the Prado. However, it has been argued by Paul Joannides (first in Paragone Arte (2004)) that the Prado Danaë is too freely painted to be a work of the early 1550s and that the version painted for Philip II is the one at Apsley House. The Apsley House picture was previously almost unknown and is very damaged. It was among the works of art looted from the Spanish royal collection by Joseph Bonaparte and discovered by Wellington's soldiers in his baggage train after the Battle of Vitoria (1813). Originally almost square, it has been cut down at the top, removing the figure of Jupiter with his eagle. The right side of the composition, showing the old nurse catching the golden shower in her apron, is largely ruined, but the reclining nude figure of Danaë herself is better preserved. Extensive repaint was removed when the picture was restored for an exhibition held at the Prado in 2014-15. The suggestion that it is the Danaë painted for Philip of Spain – or 'indeed is in any significant degree by Titian himself' – has been challenged by Charles Hope (October 2015 Burlington Magazine).
Portrait of a Lady (so-called 'Titian's MIstress'). Canvas, 98 x 71.
The young woman, wearing a fur-lined vermillion robe over a loose white shift, exposes her left breast. This erotic portrait is similar in type to the Girl with a Plumed Hat at St Petersburg and the Girl in a Fur Coat at Vienna. It was one of a set of eight female portraits recorded with attributions to Titian in the Spanish royal collection, and was among the two hundred or so paintings captured by the Duke of Wellington from the baggage train of the fleeing Joseph Bonaparte after the Battle of Vitoria. Badly damaged (partly as a result of having been folded into an oval shape in the eighteenth century). In spite of its provenance, it was formerly attributed to a follower of Titian. However, a genuine signature was discovered during restoration in 2012, and the picture is now thought to have been produced in Titian's workshop in the 1550s. X-rays reveal that the portrait was painted over an earlier painting of the Toilet of Venus.
The Duke of Wellington also owned another of Titian's eight female portraits from the Spanish royal collection. The Young Woman holding Rose Garlands is now in the collection of the present Duke. It, too, has been recently restored and found to be signed. All three Titians belonging to the Duke of Wellington were included in a special exhibition, Titian at Apsley House, held in July-October 2015.
Orpheus Enchanting the Animals. Canvas, 143 x 111.
The nude Orpheus, viewed from behind playing a viol, charms animals (a stag, lion, tortoise and lizard), fantastic creatures (a unicorn and dragon) and birds in the trees. The small white and tan spaniel, curled up in the bottom left corner, is also found in the Venus of Urbino and other works of Titian. The painting was another of the artworks captured from King Joseph's baggage train. It is possibly the picture of this subject attributed to Titian in old inventories (1666-1701) of the Alcázar at Madrid. It was reattributed to Padovanino, an early seventeenth-century copyist and imitator of Titian, by Crowe and Cavalcaselle (The Life and Times of Titian (1877)), and this attribution was retained until very recently. Following restoration in 2019, the picture was reassigned to Titian's workshop. Matthias Wivel (Apollo, August 2019) tentatively suggested the name of Damiano Mazza, a gifted but short-lived Paduan pupil of Titian, who is best known for the Rape of Ganymede (National Gallery, London).
London Courtauld Institute.
Cameria, Daughter of Suleiman the Magnificent. Canvas, 99 x 72.
The subject is identified as the Ottoman princess Cameria (Mihrimah Sultan), daughter of the Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, by an inscription on a painting by Cristofano dell'Altissimo (Uffizi). The inclusion of the spiked wheel – the attribute of St Catherine of Alexandria – is unexplained. Titian's portrait of Cameria is recorded by Vasari (1568) and Ridolfi (1648). The original is assumed lost. The Courtauld version (bequeathed in 1978 with the 'Princes Gate Collection') is probably a workshop copy. A companion portrait of Cameria's mother Roxelana ('La Sultana Rossa') is also recorded by Vasari. This used to be identified with a painting at the Ringling Museum, Sarasota, but is now also considered lost.
London. Dulwich Picture Gallery.
Venus and Adonis. Canvas, 182 x 189.
One of many later versions of the picture painted for Philip II in 1554 and now in the Prado. As in the version in Rome (Palazzo Barberini), Adonis wears a jaunty hat with a feather. The picture was acquired in the 1790s by the picture dealer Noël Desenfans, whose collection was to form the nucleus of the Dulwich Gallery. Originally attributed to Titian, it was later downgraded to a late seventeenth-century copy. After many years in storage, obscured by discoloured varnish, it was restored in 2009-12 and found to be of higher quality than previously suspected. It has been returned to display as a work of Titian's studio.
Longleat (Warminster, Wiltshire). Marquis of Bath’s Collection.
*Rest on Flight into Egypt. Canvas (laid onto panel), 39 x 62.
Universally attributed to Titian as one of his earliest and smallest Holy Families (about 1508-12). It is rare among Titian's early small works in being painted on canvas rather than panel. The canvas was subsequently glued onto panel and the painted surface extended by some 5 cm. at the top and 2 cm. at the bottom. (The added strips of paint have discoloured.) Bought by the 4th Marquis of Bath at auction at Christie’s in 1878. Stolen in January 1995 and found, largely unscathed, in August 2002 in a plastic laundry bag at a London bus stop. Another, much larger version (91 x 160) was formerly in the Contini-Bonacossi collection (sold in 1995 and now in a private collection in Italy). There is a copy by the English miniaturist Peter Oliver (signed and dated 1628) in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Los Angeles. Getty Museum.
*Portrait of Alfonso d’Avalos. Canvas, 110 x 80.
The Italo-Spanish soldier-intellectual Alfonso d’Avalos (1502-46) was Marquis of Vasto (a town in Abruzzo) and inherited a second title, Marquis of Pescara, in 1525 from his cousin Ferrante Francesco d’Avalos (the husband of Vittoria Colonna). As a military commander for Charles V, he fought in the famous victory against the French at Pavia (1525), was taken prisoner by the Genoese during the Siege of Naples (1528), and led expeditions to Hungary (1532), Tunis (1535) and Provence (1536). He was appointed Governor of Milan (1538), but proved a bad administrator, arrogant and corrupt, and was recalled to Madrid (1545). He is shown, half-length, in magnificent gilded armour, wearing the collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece bestowed on him in 1532. A page boy hands him his helmet. The portrait is exceptionally well preserved. It has usually been identified with the one mentioned by Vasari as painted by Titian in Bologna in early 1533, following d’Avalos’s return from his Hungarian campaign against the Turks. Formerly in the Parisian collections of Count Potocki, the Countess de Bahague and Marquis de Ganay, it was bought by the insurance company AXA in 1990 for 65 million francs and placed on loan with the Louvre. Acquired by the Getty Museum in November 2003 for $70 million (the second highest price paid for an Old Master painting). A later portrait by Titian, painted in 1540-41 and now in the Prado, shows d’Avalos addressing a company of soldiers.
Venus and Adonis. Canvas, 160 x 196.
One of many replicas from Titian’s workshop of the famous painting in the Prado. The brushwork is more varied and fluent than in many of the replicas, suggesting than Titian himself might have had some hand in finishing the picture. Probably one of two versions recorded in 1662 in Queen Christina’s collection at the Palazzo Riario in Rome. It passed into the Orléans collection and was sold in London during the French Revolution. It was acquired in 1844 by the Earl of Normanton, and remained with his descendants at Somerly House in Hampshire until 1991, when it was auctioned at Christie's for $13.5 million. Acquired by the Getty Museum the following year.
Penitent Magdalen. Canvas, 106 x 93.
One of Titian's most popular compositions. At least seven versions are attributed to Titian and/or his workhop. The original, which Vasari says was sold to the Venetian nobleman Silvio Badoer, is untraced and the replica of it sent to Philip of Spain in 1561 is lost. The finest extant version remained in Titian’s studio at his death and passed to the Hermitage with the Barbarigo collection. There are other signed versions in Naples (probably the one presented to Cardinal Alessandro Farnese in 1567) and Stuttgart (once owned by the sculptor Antonio Canova). The unsigned Getty version is of high quality but considerably restored (especially the landscape). Significant pentimenti, revealed when the picture was X-rayed in the early 2000s, has been cited as evidence that it is at least partly autograph. It differs from most other versions in a significant detail: the Magdalen’s Bible rests on a cloth-covered support rather than on a skull. The picture was acquired by the British ambassador to Venice, Sir Richard Worsley, at the end of the eighteenth century. It was inherited by the Earls of Yarlborough at Brocklesby Park; sold to Colnaghi for 4000 gns in 1929; and bought by Paul Getty in 1955. A near replica of the Getty version – again omitting the skull – was formerly in a Japanese private collection. It was auctioned at Sotheby's, New York, in January 2008 for $4.5 million.
Los Angeles. County Museum of Art.
Portrait of Giacomo Dolfin. Canvas, 105 x 91.
The middle-aged patrician, luxuriantly bearded and almost completely bald, wears the crimson robes of a Venetian senator. He holds out a letter, as though showing it or handing it to the viewer. The painting, which probably dates from the early 1530s, has been identified with the 'portrait by Titian of a gentleman of the Delfini family' seen by Vasari in the house of the sculptor Danese Cattaneo. Doubt has sometimes been cast on its authenticity. The Los Angeles museum bought it in 1981, after the art historian Terisio Pignatti had concluded that 'it was unquestionably by the hand of Titian'.
Los Angeles. Hammer Museum of Art.
Portrait of a Young Man in Armour. Canvas, 85 x 68.
The man, probably in his early or mid-twenties, wears a splendid suit of black armour, with rolled gold edges, and holds a baton or war hammer. Signed TICIANUS beneath the sitter's right hand. There are no early references to the portrait, which is first recorded in 1854 in the collection of the Earl of Lonsdale at Lowther Castle in Westmorland in the English Lake District. The style of armour would accord with a date around 1530. At this period, Titian was much engaged by the Mantuan court, and it has been suggested that the sitter could be Ferrante Gonzaga, Federico's younger brother, born in 1507. While no likeness of Ferrante as a young man is known, the sitter's features are not irreconcilable with those of the middle-aged Ferrante (as recorded, for example, in Leone Leoni's portrait medal and the same sculptor's full-length statue at Guastalla). The portrait was in a London private collection before it was acquired by the American industrialist Armand Hammer. The museum created to house Hammer's collection opened to the public in 1990.
*Madonna and Child with St Anthony and St Roch. Canvas, 92 x 133.
St Anthony of Padua is identified by his grey Franciscan habit and the lily and book lying at his feet. St Roch, dressed as a pilgrim, lifts the hem of his shirt to show the plague ulcer on his thigh. This small altarpiece belongs to the group of pictures, which includes the Fête Champêtre (Louvre) and Christ and the Adulteress (Glasgow), that was long disputed between Giorgione and the young Titian. Possibly the ‘large picture on canvas, with Our Lady, St Anthony of Padua and St Roch, with life-size figures, by the hand of Titian’ bought in Amsterdam for the Spanish king from the estate of the Countess of Arundel. First positively recorded in Velázquez’s 1657 inventory of pictures in the sacristy of the Escorial under the name of ‘Bordonon’ (variously interpreted as Pordonene, Paris Bordone or ‘Zorzon’ (Giorgione)). The attribution to the young Titian was made in 1908 by Schmit. It is now the common view, although a distinguished minority (including Morelli and Berenson) argued for Giorgione. Given the cult of St Anthony in Padua, it has been suggested that the picture could have been painted during Titian’s stay there in 1511. However, it has recently been dated even earlier (about 1508). The design of the Madonna is closely related to that in an altarpiece, signed and dated 1511, by Domenico Mancini in the cathedral at Lendinara (south of Venice). This is usually explained as a derivation on Mancini’s part rather than by the possibility that the very obscure Mancini could have been the author of both pictures. Parts of the painting (including the sky, landscape, green curtain and Virgin's ultramarine robe) appear to be unfinished. Cleaned in 2005.
Madonna with St Dorothy and St George. Wood, 86 x 130.
St Dorothy (previously called St Bridget of Sweden or Catherine of Alexandria) offers a bowl of roses to the Christ Child. St George (previously identified as St Bridget's husband Prince Ulpho or Hulfus) stands behind her, wearing gold-trimmed black armour and holding a lance. The picture was in Spain by 1593, when it is recorded at the Escorial as a work of Titian. It was listed as Giorgione in an inventory of 1626, and it still retained this attribution in 1839, when it was transferred to the Prado. It was reattributed to Titian by Crowe and Cavalcaselle (1877). Formerly placed among the painter's very early works, it is now usually dated around 1515-20. The same beautiful model may have sat for St Dorothy as for the so-called Violante in Vienna and also for the St Catherine in the Balbi Madonna (now in the Fondazione Magnani-Rocca at Mamiano). There is an old copy in the British royal collection.
*Worship of Venus. Canvas, 172 x 175.
Like the Bacchus and Ariadne in London and the Andrians also in the Prado, this picture was painted for the studio (Camerino d’Alabastro) of Alfonso d’Este in the Castello at Ferrara. The subject is taken from Philostratus the Elder’s Imagines: ‘the cupids bring first fruits of apples, and gathering around they pray to Aphrodite that their orchards may prosper.’ The picture was initially commissioned from Fra Bartolommeo; after his death the commission passed to Titian in 1518 and the picture was probably completed by January 1520. After the extinction of the Este line in 1598, the pictures from Alfonso’s studio were appropriated by Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini and sent to Rome. In 1637 Niccolò Ludovisi, Prince of Piombino, presented the Worship of Venus and the Andrians to Philip IV of Spain.
*Bacchanal (‘The Andrians’). Canvas, 175 x 193.
Signed on the handkerchief tucked into the bosom of the woman in red. The musical score in front of her has been identified as a drinking song by Adriaen Willaert, one of Duke Alfonso’s favourite composers. The subject of this picture, like that of the Worship of Venus, is based on a description by Philostratus, dating from the third century AD, of a painting claimed to have been seen in a villa near Naples. Bacchus, arriving at Andros by sea, caused a river of wine to gush from the earth, and the picture shows the drunken revels of the islanders. Ariadne lies asleep with wine. The old man sprawled on a bed of vines in the right distance is the river-god responsible for the river of wine. The big-bellied man on the left is probably Silenus. Theseus’s departing ship is visible on the horizon. The picture was initially commissioned from Raphael, who had submitted only a drawing before his death in 1520. Opinion is divided on whether the Andrians is the second of Titian’s trio of Bacchanals (painted in about 1520) or the third (painted in the mid or even late 1520s, after the London Bacchus and Ariadne).
*Federico Gonzaga. Wood, 125 x 99.
Signed on the belt. The sitter, with curly dark hair and beard, splendidly dressed in a royal-blue doublet fretted with gold, was once thought to be Alfonso d’Este; the correct identification was made by Gronau (1904). Federico II Gonzaga (1500-40), son of Francesco II and Isabella d’Este, succeeded his father as Marquis in 1519 and was created the first Duke of Mantua in 1530. This magnificent portrait dates from after 1523, when Titian made his first visit to Mantua, and may be the portrait mentioned in a letter written by Federico on 16 April 1529. Titian painted more than thirty pictures for the Duke, mostly between 1528 and 1540, but only a handful survive. Acquired by Philip IV at the auction of the Marqués de Leganés, who probably acquired it from the Gonzaga.
*Charles V and a Hound. Canvas, 192 x 111.
Usually assumed to have been painted at Bologna between December 1532 and February 1533. It is Titian’s earliest full-length portrait and his earliest surviving portrait of Charles V. Some three years earlier, probably in Bologna in early 1530, Titian had painted the Emperor in armour; the original of this portrait is lost, but a painting by Rubens is probably a faithful copy of it. (Rubens' painting, formerly in the collection of Viscount Mountgarret, was acquired by the UK Government in 2019 in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the Royal Armouries in Leeds.) The Charles V and a Hound seems to be a free copy of a slightly earlier portrait by the Emperor’s Austrian court painter Jakob Seisenegger, which also shows the Emperor full-length in the same costume and pose. Titian has tactfully toned down the Emperor’s lantern jaw and broadened and elongated his body. Seisenegger’s portrait is dated 1532 and is now in Vienna. Titian’s portrait was sent to England in 1623 as a gift for Charles I, but was reacquired by the Spanish court eight years later.
*The Allocution of Alfonso d’Avalos, Marchese del Vasto. Canvas, 232 x 165.
The picture probably represents d’Avalos rallying his troops during the Hungarian campaign of 1532 against the Turks. The boy at his side, holding his helmet, is his son Francesco Ferrante. According to Aretino (who appears among the crowd), the boy’s fancy classical costume – with bejewelled cuirass and leggings – is derived from figures on Roman triumphal arches. We know from Aretino’s letters to d’Avalos that the picture was painted in 1540-41. D’Avalos was Governor of Milan at this time and an important patron of both Titian and Aretino. (Titian petitioned him for a benefice for his son Pomponio and the artist’s Imperial pension was paid from the Milanese treasury.) On 22 December 1540 Aretino sent d’Avalos a ‘small painting’ (now lost) to ‘keep him amused while the larger canvas was being finished’. The completed painting was delivered in August 1541. It was bought by Philip IV of Spain at the sale of Charles I’s pictures at Somerset House in 1650. Badly damaged, probably in the Escorial fire of 1671 or the Alcázar fire of 1734. An earlier portrait of d’Avalos by Titian, probably painted at Bologna in 1533, is now in the Getty Museum at Los Angeles.
Portrait of Daniele Barbaro. Canvas, 81 x 69.
An autograph or studio replica of the portrait painted in about 1545 for Paolo Giovio, Bishop of Como, and now in Ottawa. The Prado version may be the one engraved by Hollar in 1650, when it was in the collection of J. van Uffel of Antwerp. In the Alcázar by 1666, and probably damaged by the fire there in 1734.
**Charles V on Horseback (Charles V at Mühlberg). Canvas, 332 x 279.
This huge portrait, the largest that Titian ever painted, was probably originally intended to hang in the Habsburg palace of Coudenberg in Brussels. It is the first royal equestrian portrait, and it established a model that Rubens (whose Philip IV hung alongside Titian’s Charles V in the Hall of Mirrors in the Alcázar), Van Dyck and Velázquez were to follow in the seventeenth century. It was painted between April and September 1548 when Titian (accompanied by at least three assistants, including his son Orazio and nephew Cesare Vecellio) attended the Emperor at the Congress of Augsburg. The Emperor is shown in the armour he wore at the Battle of Mühlberg, fought the previous year. The suit of armour is still preserved in the Real Armeria at Madrid. When the picture was still drying in the sun in the garden of the Fugger Palace, it blew over and the canvas was gashed on a stake. Damage to the body of the horse was repaired by the German artist Christoph Amberger. The painting was damaged again in the Alcázar fire of 1734, and the horse’s legs and the base of the picture are repainted.
The Empress Isabella. Canvas, 117 x 98.
Isabella, daughter of King Manuel of Portugal, married Charles V, her first cousin, in 1526. She died young in 1539. This posthumous portrait, derived from a mediocre prototype (trivial penello) according to Aretino, was probably painted in 1548 at Augsburg where, in an eight-month stay, Titian and his assistants painted some twenty portraits (mostly destroyed) of the Hapsburg family and their court. Perhaps because of the difficulties of producing a satisfactory posthumous portrait or perhaps because the Emperor wanted his late wife to appear remote from the world, the portrait is uncharacteristically lifeless. Charles V asked Titian to retouch the nose, which he presumably thought unflattering. (Portraits of Isabella from life show her with an aquiline nose.) An atmospheric evening landscape of trees, hills and mountains is viewed through the open window on the right. Charles V was evidently very attached to the portrait, as it was among the pictures he took with him to the remote Hieronymite monastery of Yuste in 1556 after his abdication. Titian painted other portraits of the dead Empress. The earliest, painted in 1544 or 1545, showing her as a young woman in black with flowers in her lap, was destroyed by the fire at the Pardo Palace in 1604. A double portrait, showing Isabella and Charles V sitting side by side at a table, is also lost, but is known from a copy by Rubens.
Venus with an Organist and a Dog (no. 420). Canvas, 136 x 220.
One of at least five Venus and a Musician paintings by Titian and his workshop. (This one, another in the Prado and one at Berlin include an organist; those in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, and Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, include a lute player.) The order in which the versions were painted, and the extent of Titian's own involvement in their execution, remain matters of debate. This version may be the picture mentioned by Ridolfi (1648) as painted for the eminent lawyer Francesco Assonica, famed for his oratory, who Vasari describes as an old friend (compare) of Titian. It may be a portrait. The woman wears a wedding ring, and the frisky dog and the ass and peacock in the garden have been interpreted as marriage symbols. The amorous couple may be represented again as the two small figures walking arm in arm down the tree lined avenue. The satyr-fountain may symbolise voluptuous love. The picture probably dates from around 1550. Purchased for Philip IV at the sale of Charles I’s collection for £165.
Venus with an Organist and with Cupid (no. 421). Canvas, 148 x 217.
In this version, the inclusion of Cupid identifies the woman with Venus, and her features seem more idealised. The dog – perhaps a symbol of fidelity in the previous picture – is omitted, but the garden background is largely the same. Sometimes thought to be earlier than the previous picture, and identified with the 'Venus on a bed with an organ player' painted at Augsburg in August 1548 for Charles V’s minister Nicolas Perrenot de Granvelle. Alternatively viewed – Miguel Falomir (2003) – as a later variant (about 1555). First certainly recorded in 1700 at the Alcázar.
‘Ecce Homo’. Slate, 65 x 56.
Probably the Christ taken by Titian to Charles V at Augsburg in 1548. It is Titian's only surviving painting on slate. (Slate seems to have been first used as a support around 1530 by Sebastiano del Piombo, and Titian may have learnt the technique of painting on it from Sebastiano during his trip to Rome in 1545-46.) It was one of a small group of devotional pictures taken by Charles V to his monastic retreat at Yuste after his abdication in 1556. The pictures were appropriated after his death by Philip II and sent to the Escorial. The paint was badly blistered in the Alcázar fire of 1734. An earlier version was painted for Pope Paul III in Rome. It was poorly received, according to Vasari, and is now lost. Titian gave gifts of replicas to Pietro Aretino (possibly the workshop version in the Musée Condé at Chantilly) and to Perrenot de Granvelle. There are later variants at Dublin (National Gallery of Ireland), Sibiu (Brukenthal Museum) and a private collection (from the convent of Santa Chiara at Urbania).
‘Mater Dolorosa’ (with Clasped Hands). Wood, 68 x 61.
The Virgin Mary, wearing an orange-yellow headscarf over her diaphanous veil and a blue mantle over a purple dress, displays a mother's grief after the crucifixion. Her hands are clasped tightly together and two tears are visible on her face. The subject is Flemish in origin. (Some of the earliest examples were produced in the Antwerp workshop of Quentin Massys as the wings of diptychs.) Titian's panel was painted in 1553-54 as a companion piece to the Ecce Homo (though, with its luminous colour, it is a poor match for the darker work on slate). Taken by Charles V to the monastery at Yuste and sent to the Escorial after his death in 1571. Transferred to the Prado in 1839. Restoration in 1999 has revealed the richness of the colour. A signed variant, now lost, was in the collection of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm in the mid-seventeenth century. Another signed variant, once in the Palazzo Colonna at Rome, was donated to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn in 1956 by Bishop Thomas Molloy. It was sold at Christie's, New York, in 2006.
‘Mater Dolorosa’ (with Raised Hands). Marble, 68 x 53.
A second version of this subject, painted by Titian for Charles V in 1554-55. Here, the Virgin wears a white cowl and her hands are raised in shock rather than clasped together in anguish. Three tears are visible on her cheeks. The picture is Titian's only work on marble (a support used previously only by Sebastiano del Piombo). Titian was asked to use a drawing or painting sent to him by Charles V as a model. (The drawing or painting is likely to have been by a Flemish artist, possibly Quentin or Jan Massys.) Like the first Mater Dolorosa, the marble version was taken to Yuste in 1556. By 1574 it had been combined with the Ecce Homo on slate to form a diptych in the Escorial. Both were transferred to the Alcázar by 1600 and to the Prado in 1821.
Tityus (253 x 217); Sisyphus (237 x 216).
The two pictures are from a series of four depicting the torments of characters from classical mythology damned for rebelling against the gods. The giant Tityus was punished for his attempted rape of Leto by being stretched on the ground while vultures or snakes ate his heart or liver. (The picture was previously thought to represent Prometheus, who was punished for stealing fire from the heavens by being nailed to a cliff and having an eagle peck out his liver.) Sisyphus was punished for an impious act by being condemned to spend eternity in a futile attempt to push a boulder to the top of a hill. The Four Damned Men were commissioned at Augsburg in 1548 by Queen Marie of Hungary, Charles V’s sister and Regent of the Netherlands. The Tityus, the Sisyphus, and another canvas representing Tantalus were delivered to the Queen’s summer palace at Blinche in the Netherlands in 1549. A fourth canvas representing Ixion followed in 1553. The four paintings hung over the windows of the main hall. They were taken to Spain after the Blinche Palace was sacked by the French troops in 1554. The Tantalus and Ixion are lost, presumed destroyed in the Alcázar fire of 1734. The two surviving canvases were once in such bad condition that older Spanish writers, followed by Crowe and Cavalcaselle, thought they were copies by Sánchez Coello. After the two paintings were cleaned in 2003, Miguel Falomir (in J. Woods-Marsden (ed.), Titian: Maternity, Likeness, Istoria (2007)) drew attention to the differences in their handling. He came to the conclusion that the Sisyphus is Queen Marie's original, but that the Tityus – which is more freely painted – is an autograph replica painted in the 1560s for the Duke of Infantado.
The two paintings – with their gigantic muscular nudes posed in violent action – are among Titian's most obviously Michelangelesque works. The composition of the Tityus seems to have been influenced by a famous drawing by Michelangelo, now at Windsor, which Titian could have known through an engraving made around 1540 by Nicolas Beatriset.
*Philip II in Armour. Canvas, 193 x 111.
Painted when the future King of Spain was in his early twenties – either at the end of 1548, when Titian travelled to Milan to meet him, or on Titian’s second trip to Augsburg between November 1550 and May 1551. On 16 May 1551 Philip sent the picture to his aunt, Marie of Hungary, with a letter complaining: ‘It is easy to see the haste with which it has been made and if there were time it could have been done over again.’ On 19 November the Queen forwarded the portrait to Mary Tudor, Philip’s future wife, in London (with instructions to hang it in a suitable light and view it from a distance). After the marriage in 1554 the picture returned to Queen Marie, who took it with her to Spain two years later. The gold-inlaid suit of parade armour worn by Philip still exists, almost complete, in the Real Armeria at Madrid. X-ray analysis has revealed that the picture was painted over a discarded full-length portrait of Charles V in armour. Variants at Florence (Pitti Palace) and Naples (Capodimonte) show Philip in court clothes.
Philip II (Three-Quarter Length). Canvas, 103 x 82.
He wears a black doublet with fur trim. One hands rests on the corner of a table and the other clutches the hilt of his sword. A three-quarter length variant, usually attributed to Titian's workshop, of the Philip II in Armour.
*Saint Margaret. Canvas, 242 x 182.
The saint, clutching a small wooden cross, stands astride the enormous dead dragon; in the distance is a city (Venice?) in flames. On the evidence of an inscription on a print (reproducing the composition in reverse) published by Luca Bertelli, the picture was painted for Marie of Hungary, sister of Charles V. Queen Marie died in 1558, but the picture is sometimes dated later (mid or late 1560s) on stylistic grounds. Previously very dark, the painting was cleaned in 1998. There is another, probably earlier, treatment of the subject at the Escorial. A second version of the Prado painting (signed but probably executed largely by Titian's workshop) was once in the collection of Charles I of England and later at Nuneham Park, near Oxford. It was sold for $2.175 million at Sotheby's, New York, in February 2018.
Christ (head and shoulders). Canvas, 68 x 62.
A fragment of a picture of Noli me Tangere, which was damaged (either in transit to Spain or by the fire of 1671 in the Escorial) and cut down. The picture was painted for Marie of Hungary, and was seen in Titian’s studio by the Spanish ambassador, Francesco de Vargas, in 1553. The fragment was discovered in a storeroom of the Escorial under a storage jar, and brought to the Prado in 1839. The original composition is recorded by a copy by Alonso Sánchez Coello (also in the Prado).
Salome. Canvas, 87 x 80.
A variant of the picture in Berlin – in which the girl, once said to represent Titian’s daughter Lavinia, holds up a dish of fruit rather than the head of the Baptist on a charger. Traditionally dated about 1555. Acquired by Philip IV in 1665 at the auction of the estate of the Marqués de Leganés.
*Portrait of a Knight with a Clock. Canvas, 122 x 101.
It is usually assumed from the large cloth white cross sewn on the front of his black tunic that the young nobleman was a Knight of Malta, though this has occasionally been questioned. He conspicuously places his hand on the gilt clock on the table beside him. Table clocks also appear in other Titian portraits (eg. the Eleonora Gonzaga in the Uffizi and the Cardinal Madruzzo in São Paulo); they may be symbols of temperance or the transience of time or merely status symbols. This fine, well-preseved portrait is usually dated about 1550. It was presented to Philip IV by Prince Niccolò Ludovisi in 1637. It has been suggested that the sitter could be the writer and translator Giuseppe Horologgi ('orologio' is Italian for 'clock'). Horologgi (1520-76) had connections to Pietro Aretino and Titian, but there is no evidence he was a Knight of Malta. Another suggestion (made by Susan Nalezyty in Early Modern Merchants as Collectors (2017)) is that he could be Torquato Bembo, the son and heir of Pietro Bembo. Toquato (1525-95) inherited membership of the Order of the Knights of Malta from his father. A portrait of him by Titian is recorded in the great Venetian collection of Bartolomeo della Nave.
*Danaë. Canvas, 128 x 178.
A revised version – in Titian’s later, looser style – of the picture painted in 1544-46 for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese and now at Naples. The Cupid in the earlier version is replaced by a haggish maidservant who catches the shower of gold coins in her apron. The date of the Prado version is uncertain. A Danaë was painted for Philip II in the early 1550s. (It was dispatched to Spain by summer 1554 but might have been painted a few years earlier.) Until recently, it was universally assumed that this is the Prado version. However, it has been argued recently that the Prado picture is too loosely painted to be a work of the early 1550s and that it dates from the mid-1560s. The Danaë painted for Philip II has been identified instead with a version that was looted from the Spanish royal collection by Joseph Bonaparte and is now at Apsley House, London, while the Prado picture has been identified with a version acquired by Velázquez on his first trip to Italy in 1629-31 and sold to Philip IV of Spain. (See the catalogue, co-authored by Paul Joannides and Miguel Falomir, of the exhibition Danaë and Venus and Adonis held at the Prado in 2014-15.) The old assumption that the Madrid Danaë is the one painted for Philip II has been vigorously defended by Charles Hope (October 2015 Burlington Magazine and March 2020 Art Newspaper). There is a replica of the Madrid version in St Petersburg and a signed variant, in which the servant holds a metal dish, in Vienna.
*Venus and Adonis. Canvas, 186 x 207.
The first of the poesie painted for Philip II, after the Danaë. The subject is from Book X of Ovid's Metamorphoses. While Cupid sleeps, his bow and quiver hanging on the tree, Adonis takes leave of Venus for the hunt where he is killed by a boar. In the sky at the top right, a nude female appears in a chariot, presumably indicating dawn. A shaft of sunlight strikes the fateful spot where Adonis will perish. The figure of Venus seems to have been inspired by a famous Roman marble relief representing Pysche discovering Cupid, known in the Renaissance as the Bed of Polyclitus. Though larger and different in shape, the Venus and Adonis was conceived as a pair with the Danaë. In his accompanying letter, Titian explained that, having shown Danaë from the front, he wanted to vary the viewpoint by representing Venus from the back. Already underway in 1553, the picture was sent in September 1554 to London, where the Prince married Mary Tudor. It still shows traces of the damage of which Philip complained the following year when the picture arrived in London. A long horizontal crease runs right across the canvas where it was folded. Yellowed varnish was removed in a restoration in 2014.
Over thirty other versions are known, including replicas attributed to Titian and/or his studio in the Getty Museum (Los Angeles), the National Gallery (London), Dulwich Picture Gallery (London) and Barberini Palace (Rome), and smaller oblong variants, reflecting Titian’s late style, at the National Gallery of Art (Washington) and Metropolian Museum (New York). Versions still in private hands include the 'Lausanne Venus and Adonis' (formerly on loan to the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and auctioned at Sotheby's in December 2022), the 'Rokeby Venus and Adonis' (sold at Christie's in 2003 and now on loan to Hatchlands Park in Surrey), and a previously unknown version acquired by a Russian collector in 2005 (exhibited in 2017-18 at the Pushkin Museum, Moscow).
The assumption that the Prado picture was the earliest version of the composition has been recently challenged. Jane Turner and Paul Joannides (Studi Tizianeschi (2016)) posit that the first version was painted some thirty years earlier, in the 1520s, for Alfonso d'Este, Duke of Ferrara. The appearance of this hypothetical first version (which showed Adonis embracing Venus with his right arm rather than holding a spear) is, it is argued, recorded in a copy (destroyed in 1945) that was formerly in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, and in a miniature (dated 1631) by Peter Oliver at Burghley House, Lincolnshire.
*The Trinity. (‘La Gloria’). Canvas, 346 x 240.
The subject was determined by Charles V, who stipulated that he should be portrayed as just risen from the grave, adoring the Trinity, with the deceased Empress Isabella, Queen Marie of Hungary and Prince Philip. Beneath the royal group, Titian has introduced portraits of himself and Pietro Aretino. Beneath the Trinity, to the left, are the Virgin and Baptist, and in the foreground Old Testament characters, including Ezekiel on the eagle, Moses with the Tablets of the Law, Noah with his ark and David with his harp. The female figure in green with her back to the viewer was once thought to be Mary Magdalene but could be a sibyl. Some of the minor heads appear to have been painted by an assistant (Girolamo Dente?). A letter to Charles V records that the finished picture, which was probably commissioned at Augsburg in the winter of 1550-51, was sent to the Emperor at Flanders on 10 September 1554. It is another of the small group of devotional pictures taken by Charles V to his monastic retreat at Yuste, and he is said to have died contemplating it. He requested in his will that it should remain at Yuste, but it was transferred to the Escorial after his death. Cornelius Cort made a print of the picture (dated 1566) under Titian’s supervision.
*The Entombment (no. 440). Canvas, 137 x 175.
Christ's body is supported by Nicodemus, his arm by the Virgin and his legs by Joseph of Arimathea. Mary Magdalene throws her arms wide with grief. This emotionally-charged, vigorously-executed picture is over thirty years later than Titian’s treatment of this subject in the Louvre, and very different from it in composition, mood and technique. It was ordered in January 1559 to replace a picture lost in transit two years earlier somewhere between Venice and Flanders, and sent to Philip II in September that year (together with the more carefully finished Diana and Actaeon and Diana and Callisto now in Edinburgh). The elderly Nicodemus is possibly a self-portrait. The sculpted reliefs on the sarcophagus show the Sacrifice of Isaac and Cain killing Abel – Old Testament prophesies of Christ’s sacrifice. In the chapel at Aranjuez at the time of Philip’s death, and later in the Escorial, where it was placed over the Epistle altar where Charles V was buried. Cleaning in 1999 has revealed the richness of the colour.
The Entombment (no. 441). Canvas, 130 x 168.
The so-called ‘second version’. Differences from the earlier painting include the figure of the grieving young man (St John?) introduced on the left, the headdress of Nicodemus, the striking spots on the robes of Joseph of Arimathea, and the omission of the reliefs on the tomb. Possibly identifiable with the ‘painting … in which, in the presence of the Virgin and other Maries, the dead Christ is placed in the tomb’ seen by Vasari in Titian’s studio in 1566. It was given to Antonio Pérez, Philip II’s secretary, by the Venetian authorities, and was acquired by the king in 1585. Cleaning in 1999 revealed fire damage and an unevenness in execution suggestive of substantial studio intervention (especially in the figures on the right).
Christ carrying the Cross (half length). Canvas, 67 x 77.
The head of Simon of Cyrene is clearly drawn from life and may be a portrait. (Ridolfi (1648) records a tradition that he is Francesco Zuccato.) Late (about 1565-70). Signed in red letters on the cross. One of the best preserved of Titian’s pictures in the Prado. There is another version, unsigned but also of high quality, at St Petersburg. First recorded in 1666 in the Alcázar at Madrid.
Christ carrying the Cross (full length). Canvas, 98 x 116.
Christ falls to his knees under the weight of the cross and is helped by Simon of Cyrene (sometimes supposed to be a self-portrait). The background has darkened and the view of Calvary is now barely visible. Signed on the rock, lower left (the meaning of the initials ‘JB’ above the signature remains a mystery). Sent to the Escorial as a work of Titian in 1574 (where it hung in Philip II's private chapel), and transferred to the Prado in 1845. Critical opinion of the picture has been sharply divided: it has sometimes been considered a workshop product or even a Spanish copy and sometimes a genuine late masterpiece.
*Self-Portrait. Canvas, 86 x 65.
As in his family altarpiece at Pieve di Cadore, the elderly Titian has portrayed himself in profile, dressed simply in black and wearing a black cap. He holds a brush in his right hand. The double gold chain is the insignia of the knighthood conferred upon him by Charles V in 1533. Thinly painted, the rough canvas showing through the dark reddish-brown background. Possibly the Self-Portrait seen by Vasari in Titian’s house in 1566 which he said had been finished four years earlier, but some critics have suggested an even later date. Acquired by Philip IV when a sale was held of Rubens’ collection in his mansion at Antwerp after his death. A recently discovered black chalk drawing of the elderly Titian in profile (auctioned at Munich in December 2015) possibly served as a a study for the Prado self-portrait and/or the Pieve di Cadore altarpiece.
Fall of Man (Adam and Eve). Canvas, 240 x 186.
A child with a forked serpent's tail hands the apple to Eve. A furtive fox, lying behind Eve, symbolises the Devil. The rather artificial poses of the two nudes were probably adapted from classical statues. (Eve's pose resembles Dirce's in the famous marble group of the Farnese Bull.) The picture is undocumented, but is evidently a comparatively late work (1550s). It belonged to Antonio Pérez, Philip II’s secretary, but it is not known how or when he acquired it. Restored after the fire of 1734. Rubens copied the picture on his visit to Madrid in 1628.
Agony in the Garden. Canvas, 176 x 136.
A ‘Christ praying in the Garden’ was started by Titian by July 1559 and was sent to Philip II in April 1562 with the Rape of Europa (now in Boston). It is uncertain whether this is the picture in the Prado or another version (with sleeping apostles rather than the two large soldiers in the foreground) in the Escorial. Both versions are in very poor condition. The Prado picture has usually been accepted as a damaged late work of Titian and his workshop, but has occasionally been ascribed to a Spanish imitator.
Religion succoured by Spain. Canvas, 168 x 168.
Spain is personified as a woman wearing a breastplate and armed with a lance and a shield emblazoned with the arms of Philip II. She is followed by Justice brandishing a sword, and at her feet are the spoils of war. She leads an army to defend Religion, which is represented as a helpless, naked woman threatened by venomous snakes (symbolising Protestant heresy). A crucifix rests against the rock on which Religion sits, and a chalice has overturned on the ground. The Ottoman threat is represented by a turbaned man pulled by seahorses. This very late work (signed on the rock) was sent to Spain in 1575. It has been usually identified as a reworking of an allegorical work started some forty years earlier for Alfonso I d’Este and representing 'a young woman bowing before the goddess Minerva'. Because of Alfonso’s death in 1534, the picture was left unfinished in Titian’s studio, where it was seen by Vasari in 1566. Titian apparently transformed the picture by converting the figure of Minerva into the personification of Spain and converting Neptune riding a marine chariot into the turbaned Turk. However, it has been recently doubted whether the Prado picture is the unfinished canvas seen by Vasari, as X-ray analysis has failed to find evidence of changes to the attributes of the main figures. The picture seen by Vasari is possibly, rather, identical to another, earlier ''Religion', which is mentioned in a letter, dated November 1568, by the Habsburg ambassador to Venice, Veit von Dornberg, as having been sent to Emperor Maximilian II. This earlier version has disappeared; but it is known through an engraving by Giulio Fontana, which differs from the Prado picture in some significant details. There is also an unfinished version at the Doria-Pamphilj Gallery at Rome, which is usually attributed to Titian’s workshop.
Allegory of Victory at Lépanto. Canvas, 325 x 274.
Philip II offers his child Don Ferdinando (born December 1571) to Victory, a descending angel with a palm. A captive Turk symbolises the defeat of the Moslem fleet at Lépanto. Apparently, the Spanish artist Sánchez Coello, under directions from the king, prepared the sketch that served as the basis for the composition. The picture was being worked on in 1573 and was shipped to Spain in September 1575. Extensive workshop collaboration is likely. The canvas was considerably enlarged to match the Charles V on Horseback in 1620, when the two pictures were hung at opposite ends of the Alcázar’s Hall of Mirrors. It was damaged by fire in 1734 and is much repainted.
Christ Mocked (Ecce Homo). Canvas, 101 x 101.
The figure of Christ – head bowed, crowned with thorns and hands bound – is very similar to that in Titian's 1548 Ecce Homo on slate (also at the Prado). To the right, an executioner in chain mail is seen from behind. The head of another executioner, wearing a conical (Phrygian?) hat, is seen in profile in the bottom left corner. Pontius Pilate stands behind Christ, raising his hand in a gesture absolving himself from blame. Probably a workshop replica of a lost original of the mid-1560s. More than one assistant may have contributed to the execution. Transferred to the Prado from the Escorial in 1837 and once ascribed to Jacopo Bassano. A variant at St Louis is superior in quality but clearly unfinished. There are several other versions. One was sold at the Dorotheum, Vienna, in October 2015 with an attribution to Titian's studio.
Adoration of the Magi. Canvas, 141 x 219.
One of several versions. One at the Escorial (now very damaged) was sent to Spain in 1560. Another at the Ambrosiana, Milan, was sent to Rome in 1564. The Prado version is first recorded only in 1818, when it hung in the Aranjuez Palace at Madrid. Rarely exhibited.
*Saint Jerome in Penitence. Canvas, 184 x 177.
Part of the last consignment of paintings sent by Titian to Philip II in September 1575. Apart from a brief period in the Prado between 1843 and 1860, it has been in the Escorial since 1584, when it was placed on an altar in the Chapter House. The figure of the saint is related to, though not identical with, that in Titian’s Santa Maria Nuova altarpiece of the 1550s (now in the Brera). The choice of a daylight rather than a dawn or dusk setting is unusual for such a late work. It has been suggested that it is an earlier painting reworked, but there is no hard evidence for this.
Last Supper. Canvas, 207 x 464.
The picture was commissioned by Philip II in 1557 for refectory of the Escorial. It appears from Titian's numerous importuning letters that he delayed completing the work until he had received assurances that he would be paid moneys due to him. The picture was finally finished in October 1564. When it arrived, the monks found that it did not fit the wall of the refectory for which it was intended and cut it down, reducing its height very sustantially. (A strip of canvas – 'high narrow piece' – cut from the picture appears to have been acquired in Madrid by the English diplomat Sir Arthur Hopton, who gave it to Charles I. It is recorded in the 1639 inventory of the royal collection, but is now lost.) The picture is often called a studio work, but it is damaged and much restored. The composition is largely repeated in a huge fresco painted in 1567 by the Genovese artist Ottavio Semino for the refectory of the Certosa di Pavia and also in a large sixteenth-century canvas at the Brera by an unknown artist. It is uncertain whether these two derivations – which are almost square in format and have elaborate architectural backgrounds – were based on the Escorial Last Supper, before it was cut down, or on another, almost contemporary Last Supper painted by Titian for the refectory of the Dominican convent of Santi Giovanni e Paolo at Venice. The Santi Giovanni e Paolo Last Supper was destroyed by fire in 1571 and replaced by Veronese's famous Feast in the House of Levi.
Adoration of the Kings. Canvas, 139 x 219.
Probably the picture described in 1568 by Vasari: 'Titian painted recently in a picture three braccia high and four braccia wide, Jesus Christ as an infant on the lap of Our Lady and adored by the Magi, with a good number of figures of one braccio each, which is a very lovely work'. The picture was shipped to Philip II in 1560, and sent to the Escorial in 1574, where it hung over an altar in the Old Church until 1963. It was probably damaged by the fire of 1671, and is in very poor condition and coarsely restored. Vasari also mentions 'another picture that [Titian] himself copied from that one and gave to the old Cardinal of Ferrara'. The Cardinal in question was Ippolito d'Este, and the picture sent to him is now in the Ambrosiana at Milan. Two other versions – at Cleveland (Ohio) and the Prado – are probably workshop copies. The composition influenced Rubens, whose enormous Adoration of the Magi (painted in 1609 and reworked in 1628-29) is at the Prado.
Saint Margaret. Canvas, 210 x 170.
The saint, holding a tiny crucifix, emerges from the jaws of the huge dragon that had swallowed her. Probably the ‘portrait of St Margaret’ referred to in a letter to the then Prince Philip on 11 October 1552 as having been recently sent to Spain. In poor condition; it was restored in 1949 after years of neglect in the upper cloister. There is another, probably later, version in the Prado. The composition is loosely based on a Raphael – then in a Venetian collection and now at Vienna.
Agony in the Garden. Canvas, 185 x 172.
Correggio’s Agony in the Garden (now at Apsley House, London) appears to have influenced Titian. Very damaged. There is another version, also in a poor state, with two large soldiers in the foreground, in the Prado. One – it is uncertain which – was started in 1559, shipped to Philip II in 1562 and sent by the king to the Escorial in 1574. The Prado version is perhaps the better known but is judged by Tietze and, more recently, Charles Hope to be the work of a Spanish imitator.
A third version – closer to the Escorial painting – has recently come to light (published by Giorgio Tagliaferro in Artibus et Historiae (2015)). Once owned by the American painter Gari Melchers (with an attribution to an imaginary 'Bambazio'), it was sold at Christie's, New York, on 29 October 2019 for $2.4 million as by 'Titian and studio'.
Saint John the Baptist. Canvas, 191 x 115.
Given to the monastery by Philip II in 1577. A variant, in TItian's late style, of the famous Saint John the Baptist from Santa Maria Maggiore (now in the Accademia, Venice). Previously in a poor state, it was often ignored or ascribed to a follower. But following cleaning in 1999, it has been claimed as an autograph work of the late 1560s.
Martyrdom of St Lawrence. Canvas, 440 x 320.
The largest work of Titian’s old age. It is based on his celebrated earlier painting, completed around 1557 for the church of Santa Maria Assunta dei Crociferi (now Gesuiti) at Venice. The architectural background has been changed, and a snarling dog (perhaps symbolising treachery) and a rearing horse (perhaps symbolising unbridled passion) have been added to the earlier composition. It was painted between August 1564, when Philip II wrote to the Spanish ambassador in Venice requesting him to order a picture of this subject for the Escorial, and December 1567, when the picture was shipped to Spain. The ambassador, García Hernández, proposed Titian's long-term assistant Girolamo Dente as the copyist, but Titian offered to take on the commission himself. Whether, in the event, Dente assisted his elderly master in the execution of the picture is uncertain. The huge canvas was intended for the high altar of the New Church in the monastery, which was dedicated to St Lawrence, but it was destined never to hang there. When it arrived, the New Church had not even been begun and the picture was placed in the Old Church. When the New Church was finally completed in 1579, an elaborate Spanish-style retable (with statues by Leone and Pompeo Leoni and paintings by Tibaldi and Zuccaro) was chosen for the high altar in preference to Titian’s picture, which was left in the Old Church. Much damaged. Difficult to visit.
*Christ on the Cross. Canvas, 214 x 109.
Also difficult to see. Possibly the ‘most devout work’ sent to Flanders in 1556 with the Perseus and Andromeda (Wallace Collection), though some critics have dated it later. It was among the pictures sent by Philip II to the Escorial in 1574. It is one of the more highly finished of Titian's later works. It was damaged in October 2018, when the picture became detached from the wall and fell onto a dresser. The figure of Christ was unharmed, but a three-foot tear across the lower part of the canvas had to be repaired.
Madrid. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection.
Portrait of Doge Francesco Venier. Canvas, 113 x 99.
The elderly Doge makes a frail but dignified figure in his golden ceremonial robes. Through the open window on the left is a night scene with a sailing boat and a fire on the lagoon. Francesco Venier (born 1489) held office between 1554 and 1556. Titian painted his ‘official’ portrait (destroyed by fire in 1577) for the Sala del Maggior Consiglio of the Doge’s Palace at the beginning of 1555, and the Thyssen portrait presumably dates from around the same time. He was the last Doge to be portrayed by Titian. Bought by Baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza in 1930 from Prince Trivulzio of Milan.
Portrait of Antonio Anselmi. Canvas, 70 x 64.
An old, but not original, inscription on the back gives the sitter’s name, his age, 38, and the date, 1550. Antonio Anselmi (c.1512-68) was a Bolognese scholar and poet and, from 1537 to 1547, secretary to Pietro Bembo. The picture seems to be unfinished (there is an empty space where the sitter rests his left arm). Once in the collection of the German diplomat Willibald von Dirksen and later in the hands of the Lucerne dealer Fritz Steinmeyer and Berlin dealer Karl Haberstock. Acquired by Baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza in 1929.
St Jerome in the Wilderness. Canvas, 137 x 97.
A very late replica, usually dated 1570-75, of the altarpiece painted in the 1550s for the church of Santa Maria Nuova in Venice and now in the Brera. Probably the St Jerome recorded in 1780 in the Palazzo Balbi, Genoa, and sold in London in 1810. Bought in 1934 from S. E. W. Browne of London. When the picture was relined in 1965, the preliminary drawings for St Jerome and the lion became visible on the back of the old canvas.
Madonna and Child. Wood, 38 x 31.
Signed in gold letters on the footstool. Much retouched. If authentic, it would probably be the smallest of all Titian’s paintings. The attribution to Titian – upheld by Crowe and Cavalcaselle, but rejected by most of the older writers – was revived by Suida (1956), who proposed a date of about 1525-30. Hendy dated it much later (after 1540) and Wethey much earlier (about 1515). Heinemann (1980) thought it was executed by Orazio Vecellio and Pedrocco omitted it from his Complete Paintings (2001). Bought in Rome by Francis Cowper (7th Earl Cowper) in 1874 from the Sciarra-Colonna collection, and formerly in the Cowper collection at Panshanger, Hertfordshire. Auctioned with other artworks from the Cowper collection at Christie's in 1953, and acquired by Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza from Agnew's in 1956. In 2004 the Madonna and Child and the Antonio Anselmi were placed on loan with the newly refurbished Museu Nacional d’Art in Barcelona.
Madrid. Fondo Cultural Villar-Mir.
Madonna and Child with St Luke and St Catherine. Canvas, 128 x 170.
Late (about 1560). The Virgin and Child may have been painted by Titian himself and other parts (including the green curtain and figure of St Luke) by an assistant. Bought by Sir Richard Worsley, ‘British Resident’ at Venice from 1793 to 1797, from the ‘heirs of Dondi d’Orologio of Padua’ for 200 sequins. Worsley’s Venetian pictures were plundered by a French privateer from the ship transporting them to England and sold at Malaga in 1801. A selection of them, including the Titian, were bought by Lucien Bonaparte, who was in Spain as ambassador to the Bourbon court. Sold in London in 1814, and later acquired by Sir John Rae Reid, a Tory politician and future Govenor of the Bank of England. Auctioned at Christie’s in 1954 with pictures from the Panshanger collection, and acquired in 1956 by the Swiss-based German businessman and collector Heinz Kisters. Sold by Kister’s widow, Gerlinda, at Sotheby’s, New York, in 2011 for $16.9 million.
Mamiano (near Parma). Fondazione Magnani-Rocca.
*Madonna, Saints and Donor. Canvas, 138 x 185.
A fine and exceptionally well-preserved picture from Titian’s early period (about 1511-15). The two saints are Catherine (sitting, with her broken wheel and sword that martyred her, on a fragment of antique masonry) and Dominic (who presents the kneeling donor to the Virgin and Child). The donor, leaning forward in rapt adoration, may have been from the Balbi family, in whose palazzo at Genoa the picture remained until 1952. It was then sold because of the division of the estate between three heirs, and acquired by Professor Luigi Magnani.
Mantua. Palazzo Ducale. Cabinet of the Caesars.
Eleven Roman Emperors. Painted copies.
Titian's series of eleven half-length portraits of Roman Emperors was commissioned for the Gabinetti dei Cesari in summer 1536 and completed by January 1540. The Emperors were installed in an elaborate decorative scheme devised by Giulio Romano. They hung in stucco frames between niches containing bronze statuettes of the Emperors, and below each was a panel painting illustrating a scene from the Emperor's life. (Some of these panel paintings, executed in Giulio Romano's workshop, are preserved in the British Royal Collection and elsewhere.) The Emperors remained in situ until 1627-28, when they were sold with the rest of the Gonzaga collection to Charles I, who hung them at St James Palace. They went to Spain during the Commonwealth and were destroyed by the 1734 fire at the Alcázar.
The compositions are recorded in many old copies. The earliest copies, and perhaps the most faithful, were made around 1561 by the Cremonese painter Bernardino Campi for Francesco Ferdinando d'Avalos, Marchese of Pescara and Governor of Milan. Campi went on to make another four sets of copies for other patrons. His first set is now in the Capodimonte at Naples and has been recently restored. A fine set of pen-and-ink drawings (now at Düsseldorf) was made around 1568 by Ippolito Andreasi for the Mantuan collector and dealer Jacopo Strada. An influential (but not entirely accurate) set of engravings by Aegidius Sadeler was published at Antwerp around 1593-94.
The set of painted copies currently exhibited in the Gabinetti was purchased in Venice by the Italian State in 1924. It probably dates from the late sixteenth century, but is not of especially high quality.
Mantua. Collezioni Comunali (Casa di Mantegna).
*Portrait of Giulio Romano. Canvas, 102 x 87.
Giulio Romano (c.1499-1546) was Raphael’s principal assistant and later Federico Gonzaga’s court painter and architect. He displays the plan of a circular building (the rotunda in Mantua Cathedral?). The portrait was probably painted in the mid to late 1530s, when Titian was working extensively for the Gonzaga and made regular visits to the court at Mantua. Acquired by Charles I with the Gonzaga collection. Sold by the Commonwealth, it entered the collection of Lord Kinnaird in the late eighteenth century and remained with the family until 1946. Later owned by Ferdinand Marcos, President of the Philippines, it was auctioned with the former dictator’s collection at Christie’s in 1991, and entered the Mantuan public collections via the Zurich dealer David Koetser.
Medole (near Brescia). Duomo.
Christ appearing to His Mother. Canvas, 276 x 198.
Probably painted in 1554, when Titian asked the Duke of Mantua to transfer the canonry of Medole from his son Pomponio to one of his nephews. The unusual subject seems to have been derived from the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus, which describes the cross being set up in hell and Adam and Eve and the Old Testament patriarchs being led forth. The execution appears to be largely by Titian’s workshop. Restored in 1968-69, after being cut from its frame and stolen.
Melbourne. National Gallery of Victoria.
Portrait of a Franciscan Friar with a Book. Canvas, 85 x 75.
Bought by the gallery in 1924 from Agnew’s, which had acquired it from the Italian restorer-dealer Professor Publio Podio. The attribution, published by Baron Detlev von Hedeln in the 1924 Burlington Magazine, was rejected by Wethey (1971) but has been accepted by most other critics. Usually dated around 1550. An interesting suggestion (published in 2007 by Jaynie Anderson) is that the sitter might be Fra Curado, the Franciscan confessor of Titian and Pietro Aretino, who was imprisoned in 1549 on a charge of Lutheranism.
*St Jerome in Penitence. Canvas, 255 x 125.
The saint, in the wilderness, kneels before a small crucifix, grasping with his right hand the rock that forms the altar on which the cross is placed and clutching with his other hand a stone with which to beat his breast. The head and paws of the lion, sleeping in a hollow under the rock, are seen in the bottom right-hand corner. The hourglass and skull on the rock on the left are memento mori – reminders of the passing of time and the inevitability of death. The ivy climbing up the rock on the right symbolises eternal life. The lizard could symbolise regeneration or resurrection (reflecting a lizard's ability to shed its skin and regrow its tail) and the snail could allude to the hermit life (as a snail, like a hermit in a cave, can supposedly go for days without food) or symbolise the cycle of death and resurrection (because of the spiral on a snail's shell), but other interpretations are possible. Signed on the rock beneath the saint's left knee.
The picture was an altarpiece from the small parish church of Santa Maria Nuova in the Cannaregio district of Venice, where it hung over the first altar on the left. The church was rebuilt in the 1550s, and recently discovered documents indicate that the picture was painted in 1557-59. It was commissioned by a merchant from Cologne called Enrico (or Rigo) Helman, who in 1556 was granted the right to erect an altar in the church. Helman was the brother-in-law of Giovanni d'Anna, who had commissioned the great Ecce Homo now in Vienna. The patron's name appears as 'Elman R' in the inscription on the book propped up on the rock on the left. The church was closed during the French occupation at the beginning of the nineteenth century, when the picture was taken to the Brera. There are other versions, dating from the very end of Titian’s career, at Madrid (Escorial and Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection). The arched top is a later addition.
Portrait of Antonio Porcia. Canvas, 115 x 93.
The sitter is depicted half-length beside a window looking out over a landscape. The same compositional format was used by Titian for the Portrait of Eleonora Gonzaga of 1537 in the Uffizi, and Antonio Porcia's portrait probably dates from a similar time. It is signed beneath the hand resting on the ledge. Antonio Porcia was from an old aristocratic family in the Friuli, and the portrait remained in the family castle (very near Pordenone) until around 1830, when it was taken to Milan by Prince Alfonso di Porcia. Given to the Brera in 1891 by Duchess Eugenia Litta Visconti Arese, the last of the Porcia line. It was restored the same year by the renown Milanese painter-restorer Luigi Cavenaghi.
The Last Supper. Canvas, 170 x 216.
Sometimes thought to be either a modello for, a contemporary copy of, the Last Supper commissioned in 1557 by Philip II and finished in 1564. (When the painting was sent to the Escorial in 1574, it was found to be too big for the position prepared for it in the refectory, and the top was drastically cut down.) Another possibility is that it is a small workshop version of an earlier Last Supper painted by Titian for the refectory of Santi Giovanni e Paolo in Venice. (That Last Supper was destroyed by fire in 1571 and replaced by Veronese's Christ in the House of Levy.) The canvas was given to the Archbishop of Milan in 1650, and entered the Brera in 1896.
Portrait of an Old Man in Armour (Gregorio Vecellio?). Canvas, 65 x 58.
Described in the bequest of Cardinal Federico Borromeo’s pictures to the Ambrosiana in 1618 as a portrait of Titian’s father as a soldier. A small piece of evidence in support of this intriguing identification is a statement in the funeral oration of Francesco Vecellio, Titian’s brother, that Titian painted his father in a leather cuirass. The portrait is usually dated about 1535.
Adoration of the Kings. Canvas, 118 x 222.
One of four versions; the others are in the Escorial and Prado (Madrid) and at Cleveland (Ohio). An Adoration of the Kings was commissioned in about 1556-57 by Cardinal Ippolito d’Este as a present for Henry II, but it was never sent to the French king, who was fatally wounded in a jousting accident in 1559. This original version is probably the picture (now much damaged) at the Escorial. The Ambrosiana version is probably an autograph replica. It was sent to Rome in 1564 and placed in a chapel in Cardinal Ippolito’s palazzo. It was bought by San Carlo Borromeo (who bequeathed it to the Ospedale Maggiore in Milan on his death in 1584) and presented to the Ambrosiana in 1618 by Cardinal Federico Borromeo, Archbishop of Milan. The original frame is decorated with bows and arrows, the emblems of Diane de Poitiers, Henry II’s mistress.
Milan. Castello Sforzesco.
Portrait of Seigneur d’Aramon. Canvas, 74 x 74.
Seigneur d’Aramon, identified by the inscription along the top, was a French diplomat. He visited Venice several times in the 1540s, when this portrait was probably painted. The arrows he holds in his right hand may have some heraldic meaning. Signed lower left. Bequeathed to the museum in 1928 with the collection of Prince Trivulzio of Milan.
Minneapolis. Institute of Arts.
Temptation of Christ. Wood, 91 x 73.
Satan, disguised as a youth, challenges Christ to change a stone into bread (Matthew 4: 1-4). The panel – cut down at the bottom and much restored – is commonly dated to the 1540s. It has been recently identified (by Paul Joannides in the March 2019 issue of Colnaghi Studies) with a Christo painted for Charles V's minister Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle after Titian's visit to the imperial court at Augsburg in 1548. It is first certainly recorded in 1727 in the famous collection of the Duc d'Orléans, and was bought by a Mr H. T. Hope at the Orléans sale in London in 1798-99. It remained in the Hope family until 1917 and was acquired by the Minneapolis Institute in 1925.
Moscow. Pushkin Museum.
Cardinal Antonio Pallavicini. Canvas, 131 x 115.
The sitter is identified by the inscription on the pedestal of the column behind him. Antonio (Antoniotto) Pallavicini, Cardinal of the church of Santa Prassede at Rome, died in 1507. The portrait was posthumous therefore, and presumably commissioned by the Cardinal's descendants. It once belonged to Anthony van Dyck, who sketched it as a work of Titian. It was acquired by Catherine the Great in 1772 with the Crozat collection and transferred from the Hermitage to the Pushkin Museum in 1928. Before restoration in 2004, it was catalogued by the museum as a work of Sebastiano del Piombo – an attribution proposed by Lionello Venturi in the early twentieth century. The old attribution to Titian has now been reinstated.
Ecce Homo. Canvas, 96 x 79.
This canvas, now very gravely damaged, was among the contents of Titian's studio at his death, and was one of more than a hundred paintings sold by the Barbarigo family in 1850 to Tsar Nicholas I. It was transferred to the Pushkin Museum from the Hermitage in 1924. It was stolen in 1927 and recovered in 1931. It had been cut very crudely out of its frame, rolled up with other canvases in a tube and buried in the earth in an iron pot. Almost ninety years later, in 2019, it was put on exhibition after three years of restoration. To judge from photographs taken before the restoration, the head of Christ is the only part of the picture to retain very much of the original paint surface.
Munich. Alte Pinakothek.
*Vanity. Canvas, 97 x 81.
X –ray analysis suggests that the beautiful woman was originally holding up her hair with her left hand. The mirror, which reflects jewels and gold coins as symbols of worldly possession, was apparently a later (seventeenth-century?) addition – transforming a portrait into a moral statement. The picture was formerly ascribed to Palma Vecchio (in the Elector of Bavaria’s collection in 1618), Salviati (at Schleissheim in 1748), Pordenone (Crowe and Cavalcaselle) and Giorgione (up to 1884 in the Alte Pinakothek). The attribution to Titian was made by Morelli (1880). Relatively early (about 1515-20).
Portrait of a Gentleman. Canvas, 89 x 74.
An early portrait, usually dated about 1515-20. From the Electoral Gallery at Dusseldorf, where it was mistakenly believed to be a portrait of Pietro Aretino. At the Alte Pinakothek since 1836.
*Portrait of Charles V. Canvas, 205 x 121.
The Emperor, dressed in black, looking tired and older than his 48 years, is seated on a balcony in a crimson velvet chair. One of a series of portraits painted when Titian stayed at the imperial court at Augsburg for nine months in 1548. The same figure was repeated in a lost double portrait with the Empress Isabella (destroyed by fire in 1734 and now known only through a copy by Rubens in the collection of the Duke of Alba). In 1650 the portrait is said to have belonged to the Fugger family at Augsburg; by 1758 it had entered the collection of the Electors of Bavaria at Schloss Schleissheim. Some critics have seen the hand of an assistant (particularly in the landscape and in the cloth of honour behind the emperor), but the canvas is not in good condition.
Two other autograph portraits of Charles V by Titian survive (both at the Prado). The earlier, painted at Bologna in 1533, is Titian's copy of Jakob Seisenegger's full-length Charles V and a Hound. The other, painted at Augsburg in 1548, is the great equestrian portrait, Charles V at Mühlberg, which commemorates the Emperor's victory over the Protestant Princes in 1547. Other Titian portraits of Charles V are known through copies. A copy by Rubens of what was probably Titian's first portrait of Charles V – mentioned by Vasari as painted at the time of the Emperor's coronation at Bologna in 1530 – shows Charles three-quarter length in full imperial armour brandishing a drawn sword (Royal Armouries, Leeds). Another Titian portrait of Charles in armour – full-length and holding a baton of command – was probably painted at Augsburg in 1548. It is recorded in several copies, including one by the Spanish painter Juan Pantoja de la Cruz (Prado). An unremarkable three-quarter length portrait at the Capodimonte, Naples, was probably painted in 1549 by a workshop assistant of Titian working from sketches made by Titian at Augsburg the previous year.
Madonna and Child. Canvas, 174 x 133.
Probably the picture of ‘Our Lady with the Child in her Arms’ which was sent to Philip II in 1562 along with the Agony in the Garden and the Rape of Europa. Formerly in the sacristy of the Escorial, it was removed by General François H. S. Sebastiani during the Napoleonic occupation of Spain and purchased from him privately in Paris in 1815 for Ludwig I.
*Mocking of Christ. Canvas, 280 x 181.
A very late work (about 1570?), which repeats the general composition of the earlier painting in the Louvre. Presumably intended as an altarpiece, it is uncertain whether it was ever completely finished. (It has no signature and is not known to have left Titian’s studio.) According to Ridolfi (1648), it was acquired by Jacopo Tintoretto from Titian’s son Pomponio, and was sold by Jacopo’s son Domenico to a northern merchant. It was in Munich by 1748. It was taken to Paris after the French troops entered the city in 1800, but was recovered after the fall of Napoleon.
*Danaë. Canvas, 120 x 172.
The subject is from Book II of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Danaë, imprisoned by her father in a brazen tower, is seduced by Jupiter disguised as a shower of gold. She reclines naked on crumpled sheets with pillows propping her up. At the end of the bed, Cupid (posed like Lysippus’s Cupid Bending His Bow) looks up at Jupiter’s cloud in astonishment and fear. Painted in 1544-46 for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, grandson of the Pope. Danaë is a portrait of the cardinal’s Roman mistress Angela – a drawing of whom was supplied to Titian by Giulio Clovio. Vasari saw the picture unfinished when, with Michelangelo, he visited Titian in the Belvedere at Rome. Michelangelo is said to have remarked that Titian’s ‘colour and manner much pleased him, but it was a pity that in Venice painters did not learn to draw well from the beginning.’ During World War II, the picture was looted by the Germans from the Abbey at Montecassino, where works of art from Naples were stored for safekeeping. It was given as a birthday present to Hermann Goering, who is said to have hung it in his bedroom. It was discovered, covered in mould, in 1945 in the Austrian salt mine at Bad Aussee. Like other Titians in the gallery, it was cleaned in 2005. Besides numerous copies, there are later variants in London (Apsley House), Madrid, St Petersburg and Vienna. In the variants, Cupid is replaced by a maidservant catching the golden shower in her apron (London, Madrid and St Petersburg) or in a metal dish (Vienna).
*Pope Paul III (bareheaded). Canvas, 114 x 89.
Titian’s first portrait of the Pope, painted at Bologna in April-May 1543, when the Pope was seventy-four. It follows the formula for papal portraits (three-quarter length and seated in an armchair) established by Raphael’s Julius II thirty years before. Whereas Julius II held a mappa (or napkin), Paul III’s right hand rests on a bursa – a purse used to distribute coins at the pope’s coronation. Titian received no payment for the portrait, apart from two scudi and twenty soldi for the transport of the painting to Rome. In a letter to Benedetto Varchi, Vasari says the portrait was so life-like it caused people to doff their hats.
*Pope Paul III with his Grandsons. Canvas, 210 x 174.
Paul III, an old man of seventy-eight, sits in the centre of the picture speaking to Ottavio, who bends down in genuflection, cap in hand. Cardinal Alessandro stands in the background. Painted in 1546 in Rome, where Vasari saw it. It is unfinished; the Pope’s head, in particular, is only sketched in and his right hand is missing. It has been suggested that the Pope’s senile appearance and the obsequious attitudes of the grandsons offended the sitters. Alternatively, Titian’s success in securing a benefice for his eldest son Pomponio, who had become a priest, may have meant he had no further incentive to stay in Rome, or he could have left the picture unfinished as an inducement for the Farnese to invite him back. The composition was probably influenced, in a rather general way, by Raphael’s Pope Leo X with Two Cardinals, which Titian would have known through Andrea del Sarto’s copy at Mantua (also now in the Capodimonte). The unfinished painting seems to have remained in storage somewhere in the Palazzo Farnese until 1653, when it was given a frame and a silk cover.
Pope Paul III (with cap). Canvas, 108 x 80.
Probably painted in Rome in 1545-46, and almost a replica of the portrait painted in Bologna in 1543. The sitter seems older, however, and he wears a cap (camauro). He holds a letter, rather than placing his hand on a purse, and a sketchy landscape is included in the right background. The picture is so damaged that little remains of the original painted surface. There are other versions (probably from Titian’s studio) at St Petersburg and Vienna.
Portrait of Philip II. Canvas, 188 x 101.
The young Philip of Spain, still a crown prince, is shown life-size and full-length against a plain dark brown background. His sumptuous court dress is richly embroidered with gold and he wears the chain of the chivalric Order of the Golden Fleece. He holds a pair of gloves in his left hand and his right hand rests on his dagger. The picture is probaby a few years later than the full-length portrait in Madrid of Philip II in Armour (about 1550), which shows Philip in a similar standing pose. An assistant was probably responsible for the meticulously painted costume. There is another version – almost identical but with an architectural background – in the Pitti Palace, Florence.
Portrait of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese. Canvas, 99 x 79.
Alessandro Farnese (1520-89) was the oldest son of Pierluigi Farnese. He was nominated cardinal in 1534, at the tender age of fourteen, by the newly elected Pope, his grandfather Paul III. A great patron of the Jesuits, he was responsible for the building and decoration of the Gesù and the Jesuit College in Rome. The portrait shows him in his mid-twenties wearing a cardinal's scarlet mozzetta (cape) and biretta (square cap). It could have been painted either at Bologna in 1543 or at Rome in 1545-46. The attribution, often doubted in the past, has been confirmed by the cleaning. The removal of overpaint revealed the yellow-green curtain on the left.
Portrait of Pierluigi Farnese. Canvas, 106 x 85.
Pierluigi Farnese (1503-47) was the oldest son of Pope Paul III. As a young man, he fought as a condottiere in the service of Charles V, participating in the Sack of Rome (1527). After his father's election as Pope in 1534, he acted as his agent in creating the Farnese empire, acquiring the titles of Duke of Castro (1537) and Duke of Parma and Piacenza (1545). He was murdered in his castle at Piacenza in a conspiracy organised by Ferrante Gonzaga and supported by Charles V. The portrait, which is in very poor condition, shows him just a year or so before his death. It was probably painted at Piacenza in 1546, when Titian was returning to Venice from Rome. It shows Pierluigi wearing black armour against a rose-coloured banner held by a young soldier. He appears to be listening to a message from the young standard bearer, without looking at him. A restoration in 2021 removed oxidised varnish and addressed the problem of lifting paint.
Mary Magdalene. Canvas, 128 x 103.
On 1 December 1561, Titian wrote to Philip II announcing the despatch of a painting of Mary Magdalene. According to Vasari, Silvio Badoer, a Venetian nobleman, saw the original in the painter’s studio and bought it for a hundred crowns, so that Titian had to paint another. The version sent to Spain is now lost, while the version that remained in Venice has not been identified with certainty. The painting in Naples, which is signed, is probably the version documented in two letters sent by Titian to Alessandro Farnese in spring 1567. It is unusually highly finished for such a late work. There is a version (arguably superior) in the Hermitage, as well as other replicas in the Getty Museum and elsewhere.
Portrait of Pietro Bembo. Canvas, 116 x 98.
Probably painted during Titian’s visit to Rome in October 1545-March 1546, when the elderly Bembo (who had only a year or so to live) was also in the city. Very damaged and repainted. Titian might have delegated the portrait to his son Orazio, who was his assistant in Rome.
Portrait of a Girl. Canvas, 84 x 75.
Probably painted in Rome in 1545-46. Attempts have been made to identify the fair-haired teenager as a member of the Farnese Papal circle, such as Clelia the illegitimate daughter of Alessandro Farnese, or Cardinal Alessandro's young mistress Angela. She has also (predictably) been called Lavinia, Titian’s own daughter. The portrait was among the pictures looted by the Germans during the Second World War and discovered in 1945 in an Austrian salt mine. In poor condition.
Portrait of Charles V. Canvas, 97 x 75.
The portrait – showing the Emperor three-quarter length, plainly dressed and holding a letter – was probably based on sketches made when Titian stayed at Charles V's court at Augsburg in 1548. It has been identified with a portrait sent by Titian to Ferrante Gonzaga, Governor of Milan, on 8 September 1549. The execution is usually ascribed to Titian's workshop.
Naples. San Domenico Maggiore. Fourth chapel, left transept.
Annunciation. Canvas, 280 x 210.
The composition is related to that of an Annunciation painted in 1535-36 for Santa Maria degli Angeli in Murano but sent by Titian to Empress Isabella of Spain. (That picture is now lost but is recorded in an engraving by Jacopo Caraglio.) Though mentioned as a work of Titian in 1624, the Naples Annunciation was described in the eighteenth century as a copy by Luca Giordano and largely ignored until 1925, when it was rediscovered by Roberto Longhi. It was painted for the burial chapel of the Genoese silk merchant and banker Cosimo Pinelli, who was appointed Gran Cancelliero (Grand Chancellor) of the Kingdom of Sicily and Naples by Philip II in 1557. Pinelli had bought the chapel in 1547 and (according to the inscription on the portal) it was consecrated to the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin in 1557. The picture is likely to have been painted around 1558-62. Previously in very poor condition, it was restored in 1957-60 and again in 2006. It has been recently been on temporary loan to the Capodimonte. There is a full-size copy by Luca Giordano in the church of San Ginés in Madrid.
New Haven. Yale University Art Gallery.
Circumcision. Wood, 37 x 79.
The composition is related to that of Giovanni Bellini’s Circumcision of about 1500 (of which there are many versions – the best in the National Gallery, London). Despite its ruined condition, this small panel is usually considered a very early work of Titian (about 1508-10). Acquired by Yale in 1871 with the Jarves collection as a work of Giorgione, and later ascribed to Cariani. The attribution to Titian was made by Berenson in his 1932 Lists, after the picture had been cleaned (it was previously almost totally repainted). The original purpose of the panel is uncertain. Joannides (2001) argues that it came from a predella, and conjectures that it stood under a picture, sometimes ascribed to the young Titian, of the Risen Christ (formerly in the collection of Achillito Chiesa at Milan, bequeathed to the Florentine Galleries in 1969 with the Contini-Bonacossi collection, and now exhibited in the Uffizi).
Portrait of Guidobaldo II della Rovere. Wood, 60 x 48.
The condottiere Guidobaldo II della Rovere (1514-74) was the oldest son of Francesco Maria I della Rovere and Eleonora Gonzaga (whose famous portraits by Titian are in the Uffizi). He succeeded his father as Duke of Urbino in 1538. The small portrait, unusually on panel, shows him bust-length as a military commander, wearing functional armour and holding his baton of command. A portrait of Guidobaldo II by Titian is documented in letters from 1545 and in inventories of the ducal collection at Urbino. The Yale picture was bequeathed in 1956 by Mrs Catherine Hickox, who had acquired it (with her husband Charles) in 1931 from a New York gallery. It had been published in 1933 by Georg Gronau as a portrait of Guidobaldo II by Titian, but the attribution was rejected by subsequent critics (including Wethey (1971), who called it a 'mediocre picture'). The portrait was rarely studied at first hand, however, and appears to have been confused with another, inferior version, which was known through a published photograph. The picture was recently retrieved from the gallery storerooms and reattributed to Titian (by Ian McClure in the 2016 Yale University Art Bulletin).
New York. Metropolitan Museum.
*Madonna and Child. Wood, 46 x 56.
The Virgin sits on a marble parapet, almost in profile against a dark background, with a tree and evening landscape on the right. This small but richly coloured panel had a varied critical history. For Crowe and Cavalcaselle it was an early work of Titian, but for Claude Phillips it was the work of ‘an anonymous Venetian of the second order’ and for Berenson (1899) an early work of Domenico Caprioli. Berenson later changed his mind, reattributing the picture in 1928 to Titian as a very early work, painted shortly before the Paduan frescoes of 1511. This is now the general view. Acquired in Italy at the end of the seventeenth century by the Earl of Exeter. Bought by the London merchant-banker Robert Benson in 1895 and by the New York banker Jules Bache in 1929. Bequeathed in 1949. Harshly cleaned in the past, it has lost some of its delicacy of finish. The ornate cassetta frame, carved with garlands of oak leaves and acorns, is not original but was made in 1928 by Duveen's Italian framemaker, Ferruccio Vannoni.
Venus with a Lute Player ('Holkham Venus'). Canvas, 157 x 205.
Probably a partly autograph late work, dating from the late 1550s or early 1560s. The rich landscape, where satyrs and nymphs dance to Pan pipes, is of high quality, but some parts (including the heads of Venus and Cupid and the curtain behind Venus) appear to be either the work of an assistant or of a later artist who worked on the picture after Titian’s death. The picture may be slightly unfinished (the viola da gamba propped against the couch in the right foreground and parts of the landscape being only blocked-in with thin underpaint). There is another, possibly slightly earlier, version in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. There are also three variants – one at Berlin and two in the Prado – in which the Venus reclines in a similar pose but the musician is an organist rather than a lute player. According to inventories of the pictures at Holkham Hall, Norfolk, where the New York version remained until 1936, it was bought in Rome in the eighteenth century from the collection of Prince Pio of Savoy.
Venus and Adonis. Canvas, 107 x 133.
A smaller, later version of the picture in the Prado. It is usually dated to the 1560s (though the current museum catalogue suggests the 1550s). It has been judged substantially autograph by some critics, but a studio work by others. We know that Orazio Vecellio, the painter’s son, made small replicas of the Venus and Adonis. The Cupid with the dove does not appear in the Prado picture but does appear in another smaller, later version in Washington. Previously in the Palazzo Mariscotti at Rome, it was brought to England in 1804 by the dealer William Buchanan and sold to the 4th Earl of Darnley. It remained with the Earls of Darnley at Cobham Hall until 1925, when it was sold at Christie's for £2,415. Two years later, it was sold by Colnaghi for $80,000 to the New York banker Jules Bache, who bequeathed his collection to the Metropolitan Museum in 1949. The picture benefited considerably from cleaning in 1976.
Portrait of a Man. Canvas, 50 x 45.
The long-haired, full-bearded young man gazes thoughtfully to the left, while removing his right glove. Cut down on all sides (the right arm may originally have rested on a parapet) and damaged by over-cleaning, the underpainting showing through, especially on the face. Attributed to Giorgione in the nineteenth century, when it belonged to the poet Walter Savage Landor at his villa in Florence. Although Berenson thought it was a work of the young Titian (‘or else only a copy after such a work, the copy by Polidoro Lanzani’) when it was shown in the famous Venetian Exhibition at the New Gallery in 1894-95, he later changed his mind, and it was as a Giorgione that it was sold by Duveen Brothers in 1912 to Benjamin Altman, who bequeathed his collection to the Metropolitan Museum the following year. Berenson kept the Giorgione attribution right through to his final Lists of 1957, but opinion had already shifted in favour of Titian. Datings have ranged from 1508-10 to about 1515.
*Portrait of Filippo Archinto. Canvas, 118 x 94.
Filippo Archinto (1495/1500-58) was a prominent Milanese prelate and diplomat, who is known for promoting the cause of the early Jesuits. The portrait was probably painted in the mid-1550s, when he was papal nuncio in Venice. There is another version at Philadelphia in which the figure is half concealed behind a mysterious transparent curtain. Both versions were still in the possession of the Archinto family in Milan until 1863, when they were sold in Paris with attributions to Titian (the Philadelphia version) and Leandro Bassano (the Met version). The Met version, reattributed to Titian by Bernard Berenson, was sold in 1913 by Duveen for $250,000 to Benjamin Altman, who bequeathed his collection to the museum in the same year. The old ascription to Leandro Bassano was revived in 1967 by Richard Betts (Art Bulletin), but most opinion has favoured an attribution to Titian (and/or his workshop). There has been no agreement on which of the two versions is likely to be have been painted first.
Portrait of Doge Andrea Gritti. Canvas, 102 x 81.
This portrait was among the pictures inherited by Titian's son Pomponio Vecellio and sold in 1581 to Cristoforo Barbarigo. Still with Barbarigo's descendants until the late nineteenth century, it was bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum in 1931 with the collection of Michael Friedsam. The portrait is scarcely of Titian's autograph standard. It could, conceivably, have been left unfinished and then worked on by another hand after Titian's death. The Metropolitan Museum calls it a studio work. Some half-dozen other versions are known. (One, arguably superior, was auctioned at Sotheby's in December 2016.) Another portrait of Doge Gritti by Titian, different in composition, is in the National Gallery of Art, Washington.
Portrait of Alfonso d'Este (copy). Canvas, 127 x 98.
The Duke of Ferrara, splendidly dressed in furs and brocades, rests his hand on one of his famous cannons, which were used to great effect in the Battles of Polesella (1509) and Ravenna (1512). The portrait was acquired by the museum in 1927 as by Titian, and the attribution was accepted by a number of art historians (including Berenson in his 1932-57 Lists and Wethey in his monumental 1971 monograph). It is now agreed, however, that the picture is a copy of the later sixteenth or the seventeenth century. The original was probably painted around 1523-25. It was given by Alfonso to Charles V and is last recorded in a 1686 inventory of the Royal Palace at Madrid.
Titian also painted a companion portrait of Alfonso's mistress, Laura Dianti (or Eustochia). This is generally identified with a picture formerly in the Cook collection at Richmond and now in the Heinz Kisters collection at Kreuzlingen (Switzerland).
Two Satyrs in a Landscape. Paper, 22 x 15.
The two young satyrs (perhaps Pan and Silvanas) are seated, entwined together, in a grassy meadow. The large disc they display is inscribed with astronomical symbols, which have been interpreted as representing a horoscope or portraying an eclipse. A large villa stands on the low hill behind them. This poetic drawing, executed in brown ink with white heightening on cream paper, is considered very early and may be about contemporary with the Louvre Fête Champêtre. It came from a remarkable collection of drawings formed by the German-born pharmaceuticals executive Curtis O. Baer and inherited by his son, George Baer of Atlanta, in 1976. Acquired by the museum in 1999,
New York. Frick Collection.
*Portrait of Pietro Aretino. Canvas, 102 x 87.
Pietro Aretino – dramatist, poet, satirist, pamphleteer, gossip, art critic and pornographer – is known today chiefly for his letters (published in six books between 1537 and 1557). Dubbed (by Ariosto) the 'scourge of princes', he acquired wealth and influence by flattering and blackmailing the rich and powerful. After some years in Rome, where he published obscene sonnets and anti-papal satires, he settled permanently in Venice in 1527 and immediately struck up a friendship with Titian. This friendship – both warm and mutually useful – remained unbroken over the nearly thirty years that passed before Aretino's death. Titian's extraordinary success in attracting important patrons was due in no small measure to Aretino, who vigorously promoted the painter's work, sought commissions for him and even acted as his secretary in composing formal letters. Titian painted Aretino on at least four occasions. The Frick portrait is perhaps the one painted in only three days for the printer Francesco Marcolino, which Vasari says was not as fine as the portrait given by Aretino himself to Cosimo de’ Medici and now in the Pitti Palace. The Frick portrait has sometimes been dated after 1548 (on the grounds that in that year Aretino stopped dyeing his beard) but is more usually now dated around 1537 (when Marcolino publshed Aretino's Stanzas in Praise of Lady Angela Serena). Recorded in 1692 in the Palazzo Chigi at Rome, where it remained until 1904. Acquired by Frick in 1905 at Colnaghi’s. Since the Frick collection opened to the public in 1935, it has hung in the Living Hall, to the right of Giovanni Bellini's Saint Francis in the Desert.
*Man in a Red Cap. Canvas, 79 x 68.
The pensively melancholy young man wears a splendid black fur-lined cloak and a red hat, which gives the picture its name, and holds the gold and silver hilt of his sword in his gloved left hand. An early portrait, once attributed to Giorgione. It is usually dated about 1516 on the basis of a resemblance to a portrait in Frankfurt which is inscribed with this date on the back. It was probably in Florence in the seventeenth century, since Carlo Dolce made a drawing of it. Bought by Frick in 1915 from the collection of Sir Hugh Lane.
Satyr in a Landscape. Pen and ink on paper, 19 x 21.
The muscular satyr is seated with his hand between his hairy thighs and a wine vessel beside him. He stares at a goat, whose head is sketchily indicated at the left edge of the sheet. While the satyr is robustly drawn, the background, with a fortified hamlet on a hill, is only lightly sketched, creating the impression of a sun drenched landscape. The drawing is one of a number of vigorous pen studies with landscape settings that are usually accepted as works of Titian himself (rather than of followers, such as Domenico Campagnola). Other notable examples include the Two Satyrs in a Landscape now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, and the Saint Eustace in the British Museum. The Frick drawing has been dated as early as about 1510. Acquired in 1936.
New York. Public Library.
Triumph of Faith. Woodcut, 39 x 264.
Titian has treated the subject, which may have been suggested by Savonarola's Triumph of the Cross (published in Florence in 1497), in a similar fashion to representations of Roman Triumphs (such as Mantegna's famous Triumph of Caesar). A great procession is led by Adam and Eve, who are followed by Old Testament Patriarchs (Noah with the ark, Moses with the tablets and Abraham brandishing his knife), Prophets, Sibyls with banners, the Innocents, and St Dismas (the good thief) carrying the cross. Christ, in the middle of the procession, is enthroned on a chariot drawn by the symbols of the Evangelists (eagle, lion, ox and angel) and pushed forward by the Doctors of the Church. Behind the chariot is a throng of Apostles, martyrs (Sebastian, Lawrence and Stephen prominent among them) and saints (including St George in shining armour and the giant St Christopher carrying the Christ Child on his shoulders). St Francis and St Anthony of Padua bring up the rear.
The huge, frieze-like print was extremely popular, and six separate versions of it were produced in the sixteenth century. Vasari says that it was engraved in 1508, but most recent art historians have found such an early date implausible. The earliest dated edition was published in Venice in 1517 by the prolific printer Gregorio de' Gregoriis. It was printed from five blocks. Another early, but undated, version is signed by the cutter Luca Antonio degli Uberti. It is printed from nine blocks and is distinctly cruder in execution than the 1517 version. There were two Flemish editions (one printed in 1543 in Ghent and one a few years later in Antwerp) and two later Italian editions (one by Andrea Andreani and the other anonymous). The New York Public Library has the complete 1517 print, the British Museum has the Andreani version and the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, has the Antwerp one. Many other museums and libraries have sheets from one or more of the six editions.
Omaha (Nebraska). Joslyn Art Museum.
*Man with a Falcon (Giorgio Cornaro?). Canvas, 109 x 97.
The burly young man, shown half-length and almost in profile against a dark brown background, strokes the breast of the splendid peregrine falcon chained to his gloved left hand. The head of his hunting spaniel is seen in the bottom left corner. Signed on the left, just above the dog's head. An inscription formerly on the back (lost when the canvas was relined) identified the sitter as Giorgio Cornaro, the brother of Caterina Cornaro, Queen of Cyprus. However, that Giorgio Cornaro (who was born in 1447 and died in 1527) would have been either very old or dead when the portrait was painted. It has been plausibly suggested that the sitter is another Giorgio Cornaro – Queen Caterina's great-nephew, Giorgio Cornaro the Younger (1517-71). This Giorgio Cornaro, who was born in Crete but emigrated to Venice in 1535, is best remembered for building the Palladian Villa Cornaro at Piombino Dese. The portrait has been traced back to an inventory of the Cornaro family drawn up in 1593. It was sold in Paris with the Prince of Carignano’s collection in 1743. For most of the nineteenth century, it was in the collection of the Earls of Carlisle at Castle Howard in Yorkshire. It subsequently passed through the hands of a New York collector (E. L. Milliken), a Berlin collector (Edward Simon) and two prominent art dealers (Joseph Duveen and Daniel Wildenstein). Bought in New York by the Joslyn Museum in 1942. The portrait, previously much darkened by old varnish, was restored in 2008.
Ottawa. National Gallery of Canada.
*Portrait of Daniele Barbaro. Canvas, 86 x 71.
Daniele Barbaro (1514-70), the celebrated humanist, is famous chiefly for his commentaries on Aristotle and his translation of Vitruvius. Titian’s portrait was praised in a letter, dated 25 February 1545, from Aretino to Paolo Giovio, Bishop of Como, who collected portraits of famous people. It remained in the Giovio collection at Como until 1905. There is another version, almost identical, in Madrid. The Ottawa picture was previously in a very darkened state (dirty, water-damaged and badly restored), and there was some question as to whether it or the Madrid version is Titian's original. However, its authenticity was confirmed by cleaning in 2009-12 and the discovery (by X-rays) of significant pentimenti. Paolo Veronese's famous portrait of Barbaro (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam) was painted some twenty years after Titian's.
Oviedo (Northern Spain). Museo de Bellas Artes (on loan from the Prado).
Saint Catherine of Alexandria. Canvas, 135 x 98.
The winsome young saint, handsomely attired in a green silk dress with a gold floral pattern, clasps her hands in prayer and gazes ecstatically towards Heaven. Shown beside her are the sword with which she was beheaded and a fragment of the spiked wheel on which she was tortured. Little attention has been paid to this attractive picture, which appears to be a late work of the 1560s, prepared in Titian's workshop but executed mainly by an assistant. It is first recorded in 1593, when it entered the monastery of El Escorial. A painting, similar in size and style, at the Uffizi shows a three-quarter length Saint Margaret in a nearly identical pose.
Oxford. Ashmolean Museum.
Portrait of Giacomo Doria. Canvas, 116 x 98.
The sitter’s name is written by his left shoulder. Giacomo Doria was a member of the noble Genoese banking, merchant and naval family. He lived in Venice in the 1530s, when this portrait was probably painted. Bought by Sir Julius Wernher in about 1902 from a Neapolitan collection, and acquired by the museum when the Wernher collection was sold at Christie’s in 2000.
Triumph of Love. Canvas, 88 in dia.
Cupid, about to shoot an arrow, balances on the back of a crouching lion. The canvas, originally rectangular, is thought to be a rare surviving example of a timpano – the painted cover for a portrait. The portrait in question has been identified with one listed in an old inventory of ‘a lady dressed in black with her right hand to her chest’. The Triumph of Love is first recorded, without attribution, in 1602 in the Ca’ Vendramin at Santa Fosca in Venice. After passing through the Orsetti and Bernardi collections, it was acquired at the end of the eighteenth century by the British merchant and diplomat John Udney. In 1874 it was bought at Christie’s for 110 guineas by William Graham, a Glasgow politician best known as a patron of the Pre-Raphaelites Rossetti and Burne-Jones. It remained with Graham’s descendants until 2008, when it was accepted (at a valuation of £430,000) by the Exchequer in lieu of tax. Cleaning, which removed discoloured varnish and extensive repaint, revealed that the painting is less damaged than had been feared. The best-preserved part is the Cupid. A dating around the mid-1540s has been proposed. (See the article by Catherine Whistler and Jill Dunkerton in the August 2009 Burlington Magazine.)
Oxford. Christ Church.
Adoration of the Shepherds. Wood, 94 x 112.
This badly abraded picture is not normally on show, but it was exhibited at Christ Church briefly in late 2015/early 2016. It is one of two versions: the other, also damaged, is at the Pitti Palace. The Oxford version once belonged to Charles I. It left the Royal Collection with the Commonwealth Sale, and was bequeathed to Christ Church in 1765 by General John Guise. The extent of the damage is such that it is no longer possible to say with any confidence whether the picture is an autograph Titian, a workshop replica or old copy. The composition, which probably dates from the 1530s, was reproduced in a contemporary print by the German wood engraver Giovanni Britto.
Padua. Museo Civico.
Two Mythological Scenes. Wood, 35 x 106.
The two long narrow paintings are often assumed to be cassone panels, but are perhaps more likely to have decorated some wood panelling or formed sections of the frieze of a room. One panel represents the Birth of Adonis (Ovid's Metamorphoses, Book X). Myrrha seduced her father Cinyrus and gave birth to Apollo after being transformed into a myrrh tree. (The woman sitting alone on the right might be Venus, who fell in love with Adonis when he had grown to a handsome youth.) The other panel is often called the Wood of Polydorus, but perhaps represents the Story of Erysichthon (Metamorphoses, Book VIII). Erysichthon scorned the gods by felling a sacred oak tree, decapitating an attendant who tried to stop him. He was afflicted at once with an insatiable hunger, and eventually gnawed his own flesh and died. (The women on the left – one naked and the other sitting against a tree – conceivably represent Limos, spirit of hunger, and Mestra, Erysichthon's daughter, whom he sold into slavery.) The panels have been identified (perhaps wrongly) with furniture paintings, mentioned by Ridolfi as works of Giorgione, in the palazzo of 'Signori Vidmani' (Widmann) at Venice. They were bequeathed to the museum in 1864 with the collection of Emo Capodilista. The original attribution to Giorgione was largely abandoned in the early twentieth century in favour of one to Cariani. The attribution to Titian, as very early works, is more recent. It was made in 1942 (by Antonio Morassi in his Italian momograph on Giorgione) and endorsed by Italian art historians (including Roberto Longhi and Rodolfo Pallucchini). American and British historians have mostly rejected the attribution. Joannides (2001), a notable exception, supports the Titian attribution 'with confidence' and with a dating of 'probably 1509'.
Padua. Scuola del Santo.
*Miracles of St Anthony. Frescoes.
Titian painted three frescoes for the Scuola del Santo, a confraternity devoted to Saint Anthony of Padua, whose newly built meetinghouse was located beside the great basilica of the saint. The well-preserved frescoes are Titian's earliest securely documented surviving works. He finished all three frescoes within a year. His name first appears in the Scuola's account book on 1 December 1510, and the final payment (four gold ducats) was made on 2 December 1511.
The first and largest of Titian's frescoes represents the Miracle of the Newborn Child (320 x 315) and is on the right-hand side of the end wall opposite the altar. It depicts St Anthony granting speech to a newborn child, enabling it to reveal its paternity and thereby refute the accusation of adultery against its mother. The statue (Trajan?) in the niche high on the left was presumably copied from a Roman sculpture. (It closely resembles a figure in a marble relief known as the Apotheosis of Augustus (now in the Ravenna museum).) Titian's two other frescoes are on the long entrance wall. Second from the right is the Healing of the Wrathful Son (327 x 220). The saint is shown healing the foot of a youth who had cut it off in repentance after kicking his mother. On the far right is the Miracle of the Jealous Husband (327 x 183). It shows the wife of a knight being stabbed to death by her jealous husband, who had unjustly suspected her of adultery. In the right background, the knight is shown begging forgiveness from St Anthony, who restored the wife to life. The wife's raised right arm is moulded in relief, with the plaster built up as much as two inches from the surface of the wall.
The three scenes were executed in just twenty-three giornate (days of work). They are part of a cycle of frescoes showing miracles of St Anthony that cover all four walls of the room. Several other artists were involved, including the local painters Giovanni Antonio Corona and Filippo da Verona, the ageing Bartolomeo Montagna, Titian's brother Francesco Vecellio and (some two decades later) the painter and engraver Domenico Campagnola.
The sinopia of a fourth scene has also been attributed to Titian. It was discovered in 1969 on the wall above the door under a fresco painted by another artist (Francesco Vecellio?). It has been detached and is displayed in the Museo Antoniano.
**‘Fête Champêtre’. Canvas, 110 x 138.
It is uncertain whether this famous picture illustrates a scene from classical mythology, is an allegory of some sort, or is simply a pastoral scene, without any precise meaning but evoking a mood. From the mid-seventeenth century, when it was first recorded in the collection of the German banker Everhard Jabach, to the early nineteenth century, it was regarded as a typical work of Giorgione. The traditional attribution was first doubted by Waagen (who suggested Palma Vecchio) and Crowe and Cavalcaselle (‘an imitator of Sebastiano del Piombo’). Titian’s name seems to have been first suggested by Lafenestre in 1886. The question of attribution has never been fully resolved. A few art historians (including Jaynie Anderson in her 1997 Giorgione monograph) still believe that it is by Giorgione, and others (eg. Wethey in his monumental Paintings of Titian) that it was started by Giorgione and finished by Titian. Arguments have also been made for attributions to the very obscure Domenico Mancini (Charles Hope in Titian (2003)) and to the young Sebastiano del Piombo (Jonathan Unglaub in Venetian Painting Matters, 1475-1750 (2015)).
The picture does not appear, as sometimes stated, to have been in the collections of the Gonzaga at Mantua or of Charles I of England. It was possibly purchased in Venice by Lady Arundel in 1622 and bought by Jabach at the sale of the Arundel collection at Utrecht in 1662. It was certainly among the hundred or so pictures sold by Jabach to Louis XIV. It seems to have been radically restored in 1802 after it was taken to the Louvre, and may have been transferred to a new canvas support. The dark appearance of the painting in 1863 inspired Manet to recreate the composition as Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe. Cleaning in 1949 removed some passages of old repaint, but others were left. The layers of old varnish have discoloured, and the colours would originally have appeared brighter and sharper.
*Woman with a Mirror. Canvas, 96 x 76.
The beautiful young woman, at her toilette, braids her hair with her right hand and touches a perfume jar with her left. A man, shadowy in the background, supports a large convex oval mirror with his left hand and holds up another, small mirror with his right. The picture (which was known as Titian’s Mistress after the Life when it was in Charles I’s collection and was later erroneously identified as the ‘stupendous’ portrait of Alfonso d’Este’s consort Laura Dianti mentioned by Vasari) probably symbolises the vanities of life. Early (around 1513-15). Acquired by Charles I in 1627 with the Gonzaga collection; when the King’s collection was sold in 1649 it was acquired by Jabach, who was forced to sell his collection to Louis XIV in 1671. It appears to have been one of the earliest of Titian’s compositions from which workshop replicas were made (examples at Barcelona, Prague and Washington).
*Man with a Glove. Canvas, 100 x 89.
A young man, no more than twenty perhaps and with only a sparse moustache, leans nonchalantly against a stone block. He wears a coat with a wide black collar over a crisp white pleated shirt with a high ruffled collar and cuffs, and a sapphire and pearl pendant hangs around his neck on a gold chain. He has removed the glove from his right hand, revealing a ring on the index finger with a (now indecipherable) coat-of-arms. This remarkable portrait of an aristocratic youth probably dates from the early 1520s. It is possibly the Giovenetto by Titian listed in the 1627 inventory of the Gonzaga collection; valued at £40 in the Commonwealth sale of 1651, it passed into Louis XIV’s collection via Jabach. In spite of the signature on the marble block, the attribution was once doubted, and the painting languished, damaged and repainted, in storage for many years. In the early twentieth century, there were unsuccessful attempts to identify the sitter as Gerolamo Adorno, Charles V’s ambassador to Venice, and as Giambattista Malatesta, the Duke of Mantua’s representative. More recently, Charles Hope (1980) suggested that the portrait could represent Ferrante Gonzaga (Marquis Federico’s younger brother) in 1523 at the age of sixteen, following his return from a year at the Spanish court.
Portrait of a Man in Black. Canvas, 118 x 96.
The dark, bearded man, dressed entirely in black, has his right hand on his hip and rests his left hand on the wallet hanging from his belt. The portrait has the same provenance as the Man with a Glove and was probably painted around the same time (early 1520s). It, rather than the Man with a Glove, could conceivably be the Portrait of Gerolamo Adorno (a Genoese nobleman who served as an imperial envoy in Venice and died in 1523), which was sent to Federico Gonzaga, together with one of Pietro Aretino.
*The Entombment. Canvas, 148 x 212.
The dead Christ, lying in his winding sheet, is carried to the tomb by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. The young John the Evangelist lifts Christ's wounded right hand and shows it to the grief-stricken Virgin Mary, who is supported by Mary Magdalene. The effects of the dying evening light – illuminating the chilling white of Christ's burial shroud and his pale limbs, while his head and torso are cast in shadow – are beautifully observed. A source for the composition (as for Raphael’s Borghese Entombment) may have been a relief on a Roman sarcophagus of Meleager carried from the Calydonian Boar Hunt. Titian painted several Entombments, including one of 1559 for Philip II (Prado). The Louvre picture is much earlier (perhaps about 1523-26). It has a Mantuan provenance, and is usually assumed to have been painted for Federico Gonzaga or his mother Isabella d’Este. It came to England when Charles I bought the Gonzaga collection from Vincenzo II in 1627. After Charles’s execution, it was sold for £120 to Jabach, whose collection was acquired by Louis XIV. It has been enlarged by a total of 20 cm at the top and bottom.
*‘Madonna of the Rabbit’. Canvas, 70 x 84.
Signed on St Catherine’s wheel. Sometimes identified as the painting of ‘Our Lady with St Catherine’ which, we know from a letter from Giacomo Malatesta to Federico Gonzaga, Titian was working on in February 1530. The shepherd stroking his dog resembles Federico; X-rays reveal that in the original composition Mary was looking towards him, perhaps as a donor. One of Titian’s most carefully finished pictures – the foreground detail (grass, flowers and basket of fruit), the pearls in St Catherine’s hair and gold threads in her silk scarf are meticulously described. Probably given to Cardinal Richelieu by Vincenzo Gonzaga in about 1624-25 and acquired by Louis XIV in 1665.
*Allegory. Canvas, 121 x 107.
There is a tradition, dating back to the seventeenth century, that the picture represents the famous commander Alfonso d’Avalos, Marquis of Vasto, his wife Marie of Aragon and their family. The subject was later interpreted as ‘Titian and His Mistress’ and as ‘Alfonso d’Este and Laura Dianti’. More recently, Panofsky and others have seen the picture, not as a portrait, but as an allegory of marriage – in which the union of the man (dressed in the armour of Mars) and the woman (who is dressed as Venus and looks into her crystal ball to divine the future) is witnessed by Love, Hymen and Fertility. The picture, which probably dates from the early 1530s, was bought by Prince Charles at auction during his visit to Spain in 1623. It was acquired by Louis XIV from Jabach. The popularity of the picture in the sixteenth century is attested by the very large number of old copies. When the picture was relined in 1935, the preliminary drawing, executed in fluid brush strokes, became visible on the back of the original canvas.
*Christ at Emmaus. Canvas, 169 x 244.
Signed bottom left, near the cat’s head. Vasari saw a ‘Christ seated at a table with Cleophas and Luke’ above a door in the Salotta d’Oro in the Doge’s Palace, and says it was painted for a gentleman of the Contarini family, who presented it to the Signoria. The Louvre picture is a replica done for the Maffei family at Verona. (X-ray analysis has revealed the family crest on the tablecloth.) Count Nicola Maffei often acted as Federico Gonzaga's representative in his dealings with Charles V, and the imperial eagle sketched on the wall probably refers to Maffei's loyalty to the emperor. The painting was bought by Charles I with the other Gonzaga pictures, and was valued at £600 in the sale of the royal collection. It was acquired by Louis XIV from Jabach. Another version in the Earl of Yarborough’s collection at Brocklesby Park is now often identified as the original from the Doge’s Palace.
Portrait of Francis I. Canvas, 109 x 89.
Commissioned in about 1538 by Pietro Aretino as a present for Francis I. Titian never saw the king, whose likeness he copied from a medal by Benvenuto Cellini. Another version in a private collection at Lausanne is probably the one mentioned by Vasari in the guardaroba of the Duke of Urbino. A third version at Harewood House, in which the king is hatless, was probably acquired by the Barbarigo family directly from Titian’s studio, and may have served either as a preliminary sketch for the Louvre portrait or as a ricordo of the finished picture.
*‘Venus of Pardo’. Canvas, 196 x 385.
The subject is obscure. As early as 1582 a Spanish writer described it as ‘Jupiter transformed into a satyr contemplating the beauty of Antiope’; but the interpretation is no longer widely accepted. Titian himself, in a letter of 1574 requesting payments from Philip II long overdue, refers to the picture simply as ‘the nude in a landscape with a satyr’. It was sent to Philip II in 1567 but may have been largely painted much earlier (about 1535-40?). It once hung over a door in the Pardo Palace in Madrid, and was given by Philip IV to Prince Charles of England when he visited Spain in 1623. It was sold for £600 in the Commonwealth sale of 1649, and was acquired by Louis XIV in 1661 from Cardinal Mazarin. The picture has been cut down substantially on the left and is much damaged. It was stored for years in the basement of the Louvre before finally being restored in the early 2000s.
*Mocking of Christ. Wood, 303 x 180.
The scene of brutal violence is set outside the prison where Christ was taken. Over the archway is a bust of Tiberius, who was the Roman Emperor of the day. Christ is tormented by guards, who use staves to twist the crown of thorns into his wounded head. The guards on the right kneel in mock reverence. Titian seems to have based the writhing, and unusually muscular, figure of Christ on the Laöcoon. The picture was commissioned by the Confraternity of the Holy Crown (Santa Corona) as the altarpiece for their chapel in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie at Milan. The chapel (the fourth in the right-hand aisle) preserved a precious relic of a thorn from Christ’s crown of thorns. Titian’s altarpiece was part of an extensive scheme of decoration, which included frescoes (still intact) by Guadenzio Ferrari. It was once considered a late work, but is now known (from records of payments totalling 200 ducats) to have been executed between February 1540 and January 1542. It was painted in Venice, transported by boat up the river Po to Cremona and than taken overland via Pavia. Plundered by the French in 1797 during the Napoleonic suppression of churches and convents. Another version at Munich is much later (probably after 1570).
*Saint Jerome. Canvas, 80 x 102.
This moonlit landscape, with the saint in penitence before a crucifix, is probably the St Jerome known from a letter from Federico Gonzaga to Vittoria Colonna to have been painted for the Duke of Mantua early in 1531. It appears to have been intended for the private apartments of Federico’s wife, Margherita Paleologo. It was in the collections of Charles I (it hung in the king’s dressing-room) and Louis XIV (who acquired it from the La Feuille collection in Paris).
Madonna and Saints. Canvas, 108 x 132.
The saints are Stephen (with the martyr’s palm), Jerome (with his Vulgate Bible) and possibly Maurice (in armour). A copy by Van Dyck, done when the picture was in the Aldobrandini collection in Rome, contains the additional head of St Joseph on the left. The picture is comparatively early (early 1520s). It was given by Prince Camillo Pamphilj to Louis XIV in 1665, and was damaged by water on the journey from Italy to France. An almost identical picture at Vienna has often been considered a workshop replica. However, recent X-ray analysis (revealing extensive pentimenti in the Vienna version but none in the Louvre one) suggests that it is the Vienna picture that is the original. There is a smaller version (possibly a workshop copy) at Kenwood House, Hampstead.
Paris. Louve. Cabinet des Dessins.
The Battle of Spoleto. Paper, 38 x 45.
This squared compositional drawing, rapidly executed in chalk and wash on blue paper, may give the best idea of Titian's famous lost canvas for the Sala del Maggior Consiglio in the Doge's Palace. The canvas depicted the sack of Spoleto by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa in 1155 (and not, as had been often supposed, the Venetian victory over an Imperial army at Cadore in 1508). As early as 1513, Titian had successfully petitioned the Council of Ten for the commission to replace a ruined fourteenth-century painting on the same subject by Guariento. For nearly twenty-five years, work on the Battle was repeatedly delayed. Then, finally, in June 1537, the Council threatened to take back the monies already paid to Titian, who immediately set to work and completed the canvas by August 1538. Along with the Battle of Constantine by Raphael's workshop in the Vatican, Titian's painting was perhaps the most celebrated battle piece in Italy. It was destroyed in the fire of 1577. Surviving copies include a small painted version in the Uffizi (which gives only part of the composition), a drawing by Rubens at Antwerp, an anonymous print at Vienna, and a well-known etching of 1569 by Giulio Fontana (which does not appear to have been very faithful to the original).
Pasadena. Norton Simon Museum.
Bust of a Woman. Canvas (transferred from panel), 31 x 24.
The seductive woman, who grips the edge of her striped shawl with her left hand, is often assumed to be a courtesan. But the picture may not be a portrait but rather the fragment of a large narrative composition. It is unrecorded before the nineteenth century, when it was in the collection of Prince Lichnowsky at Kuchelna (Czechoslovakia). It later belonged to Lord Melchett in Romsey, Hampshire, and was acquired by Norton Simon (through Duveen) in 1964. Ever since the 1930s critics have been divided on whether it should be attributed to the young Titian or to Giorgione. As Titian in Pedrocco’s 2001 Complete Paintings and Joannides’s 2001 study of the artist’s earlier works; as Giorgione in the museum catalogue.
Petworth (Sussex). Petworth House.
*Gentleman in a Plumed Hat. Canvas, 71 x 64.
The young man, clean shaven and with long frizzy fair hair, wears a flamboyant wide brimmed hat decorated with a large gold broach and white ostrich feather. The object he holds was once thought to be a book or sheet of paper, but now resembles a block of marble. The portrait is possibly listed in the 1671 inventory of the Earl of Northumberland's collection at Petworth (which includes 'two men's pictures done to the waist, one by Jerjone [Giorgione], ye other by Titian'). It is first certainly recorded in the collection of George Wyndham, Third Earl of Egremont (1751-1837). The attribution to Titian, as a very early portrait of about 1510, was made only in 1956 (by Antonio Morassi) but is now widely accepted. The style is close, for example, to that of the famous Concert at the Pitti Palace.
Nymph and Shepherd (Venus and Satyr). Canvas, 97 x 131.
This very damaged painting is similar in composition to the Mars and Venus at the Kunsthistorisches Museum at Vienna. It was called 'Mars and Venus' in 1652 (when listed in an inventory of the Earl of Northumberland's collection at Suffolk House) but 'Venus and Satyr' in 1671 (when first recorded at Petworth). It has been suggested, on the basis of X-rays, that the picture was transformed by repainting in the 1650s or 1660s, but the evidence for this has been disputed. In its present condition, it seems impossible to judge whether the picture is a work of Titian, his shop or a follower.
Portrait of a Cardinal. Canvas, 97 x 66.
This damaged half-length portrait of a youthful cardinal, wearing a scarlet biretta and cape, was acquired by the Third Earl of Egremont with an attribution to Titian. It was subsequently relegated to Titian's school, and disappeared completely from the literature on the painter. In August 2018, the portrait featured in an episode of BBC television's Britain's Lost Masterpieces. After restoration, removing old varnish and repaint, it was examined by Peter Humfrey, who expressed the view that the painting of the head was of such quality that the portrait could be described as 'attributed to Titian'. A dating of around 1550 was suggested.
Philadelphia. Museum of Art (J. G. Johnson Collection).
*Archbishop Filippo Archinto. Canvas, 115 x 89.
Filippo Archinto (1495/1500-1558), a cleric who had pursued a diplomatic career in the service of Spain and the Papacy, was nominated as Archbishop of Milan in 1556, but his nomination aroused bitter controversy and he was unable to occupy the see. He was banished from Milan and died in exile in Bergamo. The mysterious transparent curtain, drawn over the right side of the figure, might refer to the troubles that kept Archinto from the archbishop's chair. The portrait was sold by the Archinto family of Milan in 1863, and was acquired by J. G. Johnson in 1909. Another version, without the curtain, was also in the possession of the Archinto family, with an attribution to Leandro Bassano. This other version was bequeathed by Benjamin Altman in 1913 to the Metropolitan Museum, New York, and is also now attributed to Titian. There has been no agreement on which version is likely to be the original and which the replica.
Pieve di Cadore. Santa Maria Nascente.
*Madonna and Child with Saints and Donor. Canvas, 100 x 40.
St Andrew kneels on the right, supporting his cross on his shoulder. St Tiziano di Oderzo, a seventh-century bishop, kneels in prayer on the left. Behind him, dressed entirely in black and holding the bishop's crosier, is Titian himself, as donor. This small altarpiece was painted for the Vecellio family chapel in the church at Cadore, Titian's birthplace. (The church was rebuilt in 1763.) According to (unreliable) tradition, the kneeling St Andrew is a portrait of Francesco Vecellio, the artist’s brother, and St Tiziano is a portrait of Marco, his young cousin. The picture is a work of Titian’s extreme old age (but before 1566, as it is mentioned by Vasari who visted Titian in Venice that year). Severely abraded and extensively retouched. During an attempted theft in the early eighteenth century, it was cut down the centre. It was stolen again in 1971, and cut out of its stretcher, but recovered almost immediately. Restored in 2023.
Prague. Castle Gallery.
Woman with a Mirror. Canvas, 83 x 79.
Another version, probably from Titian's workshop, of the painting in the Louvre. It is a little smaller than the original and in poorer condition. A maidservant replaces the male lover. First recorded at Prague Castle in 1781.
Raleigh (North Carolina). Museum of Art.
Virgin and St Joseph Adoring the Child. Wood, 19 x 16.
This little panel has been accepted as an early Titian by some art historians (including Joannides (2001)). The striking golden yellow of St Joseph's cloak is found in some other small panels attributed to the young artist (eg. the Rest on the Flight into Egypt at Longleat). The panel is too loosely executed to have been a finished work intended for sale. It might have been a preparatory study (modello) for a larger picture or, perhaps more likely, a studio record (ricordo) of a picture already completed. A larger version (49 x 40) in the Hermitage, St Petersburg, is attributed to an unidentified follower or associate of Titian. The composition is also repeated in an engraving dated 1515 and signed 'F.N.'. The Raleigh panel, formerly in a French private collection, was acquired by the Kress Foundation in 1952 and allocated to the North Carolina museum in 1960. The Renaissance-style tabernacle frame is of recent manufacture.
Rome. Galleria Borghese.
**‘Sacred and Profane Love’. Canvas, 118 x 279.
Described by Ridolfi (1648) simply as ‘two ladies at a fountain in which a putto looks at himself’. The title Profane Love and Sacred Love appears first in a Borghese inventory of 1693. At different times the picture has been called Beauty Adorned and Unadorned, Heavenly and Earthly Love, Venus and Medea, and Venus and Polia (from Francesco Colonna’s strange dream romance Hypnerotomachia). The woman on the right, naked except for the strip of linen across her lap and the magnificent red silk cloak hanging lightly over her arm, is clearly Venus and the putto stirring the waters of the fountain is Cupid; the other woman, who has identical features, is sumptuously dressed in a lilac silk bridal dress and crowned with myrtle (sacred to Venus). The naked Venus holds up a lighted oil lamp and the clothed woman cradles a closed jar. The picture was probably commissioned to commemorate the marriage in 1514 of Nicolò Aurelio, Secretary of the Council of Ten, to Laura Bagarotto of Padua. Aurelio’s coat-of-arms appears on the shield of the sarcophagus and Bagarotto’s is said to appear on the rim of the silver bowl. Laura was the daughter of Bertuccio Bagarotto, who just five years earlier had been hanged for treason between the two columns of the Piazzetta. Probably one of the pictures bought by Scipione Borghese in 1608 from Cardinal Paolo Sfondrato. In 1903, Colnaghi signed a contract with Prince Borghese to buy the picture, but the Italian government stepped in at the last moment to stop the sale. The canvas was cleaned and relined in 1995.
*‘Education of Cupid’. Canvas, 118 x 185.
Two nymphs (or Graces) bring a bow and arrows to Cupid, who is being blindfolded by Venus; a second Cupid looks furtively over her shoulder. The picture has been given many different titles, including: Venus blindfolding Cupid (1613); Three Graces with Cupid and Shepherdesses (Ridolfi, 1648); Venus and Two Nymphs (1650); the Education of Cupid (Philips, 1898); the Preparation of Cupid (Suida, 1933); and Vesta disarming Love (Friedländer, 1967). A late work, usually dated about 1565 and exceptionally well preserved. Probably acquired by Scipione Borghese in 1608 from Cardinal Paolo Sfondrato. It was among the Borghese pictures taken to Turin and Paris after the marriage of Camillo Borghese to Pauline Bonaparte, but was returned to Rome in 1813. X-rays reveal that Titian originally intended to include, between Venus and the two nymphs, a woman holding up a basket of flowers. A fragmentary variant at Washington (possibly from Titian's workshop) largely replicates the left side of the Borghese picture, showing Venus and the two Cupids, but included a figure on the right holding a platter. (That figure has now been cut away, leaving only a disembodied arm.)
Saint Dominic (Portrait of a Dominican Friar?). Canvas, 92 x 78.
Signed lower left. Listed in 1693 and 1700 inventories simply as a portrait of a Dominican friar, the subject has been variously identified over the years as Saint Dominic, Saint Vincent Ferrer and Titian’s Confessor. The gesture of pointing towards Heaven is associated with the fiery Spanish preacher St Vincent Ferrer, and it is possible that the picture is a portrait of a Dominican friar in the guise of the saint. Late (mid-1560s?). It has been recently discovered that the picture was not, as previously assumed, acquired from Cardinal Sfondrato in 1608, but was bequeathed to Scipione Borghese by Cardinal Girolamo Bernerio in a will drawn up in 1611.
Scourging of Christ. Canvas, 86 x 58.
Christ, half-length at the column, his chest and arm criss-crossed with cuts from the scourge, lifts his eyes towards heaven. This intense devotional picture is recorded as a work of Titian in the 1592 inventory of the collection of Lucrezia d'Este at Ferrara. Modern commentators have tended to judge it either as a partly autograph late work, completed with studio assistance, or as a work painted under Titian's direction or influence by an assistant or close follower.
Rome. Vatican Pinacoteca.
*Madonna and Child in Glory with Saints ('Madonna of the Frari'). Canvas (transferred from panel), 388 x 270.
Originally the panel had an arched top, showing the dove of the Holy Spirit casting its divine radiance on the Madonna and Child. She is seated on a bank of cloud between two boy angels with garlands. Beneath are six saints. Catherine of Alexandria holds a martyr's palm and has her foot on a fragment of her broken wheel. Nicholas of Bari wears a magnificently embroidered bishop's cope. Peter holds the keys to Heaven. Anthony of Padua (with his back to us) and Francis wear grey Franciscan habits. Sebastian is naked, bound and pierced with arrows.
The altarpiece was originally in the Cappella di San Niccolò in the cloister of the Frari church (San Niccolò della Lattuga) in Venice. It was sold around 1770 to Pope Clement XIV and taken to Rome (the panel being cut in half to facilitate its transportation). Shortly afterwards, the arched top of the picture was cut off, so that its shape would match that of Raphael’s Transfiguration, which was to be hung beside it in the Quirinal Palace. The picture was plundered by the French in 1797, but retrieved after Waterloo and placed in the new Vatican Pinacoteca.
The picture was probably painted in the early 1520s (though some critics have dated it as late as the 1530s or even early 1540s). The altar over which it originally hung was dedicated in 1522. According to Vasari, the commission was awarded initially to the young Paris Bordone, but was withdrawn at the insistence of Titian, who subsequently took the commission for himself. Not surprisingly, given its travels and rough treatment, the picture is much damaged. During a major restoration in 1960-64, the paint surface was transferred to a new canvas support.
Portrait of Doge Nicolò Marcello. Canvas, 103 x 90.
Nicolò Marcello was Doge in 1473-74. The profile portrait, which may date from the early 1540s, was probably based on a medal or a lost official portrait by Giovanni or Gentile Bellini. Acquired by Pope Leo XII in the 1820s from the Aldobrandini collection in Bologna.
Rome. Capitoline Museum.
*Baptism of Christ. Wood, 116 x 91.
The Holy Spirit descending on Christ is depicted as a flash of light in the sky. In the green fields behind Christ, there are the curious details of a figure fleeing in panic and vultures feeding on a dead animal. Marcantonio Michiel ascribed this picture to Titian when he saw it in 1531 in the house of the Spanish merchant Zuanne (Giovanni) Ram. John the Baptist was the name saint of Ram, who is portrayed (rather incongruously) in the bottom right corner of the picture as the donor. A very early work (about 1508-12). It appears to have remained at Vence with Ram's descendants until the end of the sixteenth century. By 1624, it had entered the collection at Rome of Cardinal Carlo Emanuele Pio di Savoia. Sold by Prince Gilberto Pio di Savoia to Pope Benedict XIV in 1750.
Rome. Galleria Nazionale (Palazzo Barberini).
Venus and Adonis. Canvas, 184 x 187.
One of many versions of the painting in the Prado; there are some differences of costume – most obviously, Adonis wears a plumed hat. Cleaning has revealed the high quality of this version, which is exhibited as by ‘Titian and pupils’. It entered the gallery in 1892 from the Torlonia collection (it was probably not, as often claimed, in the Orléans collection).
Rome. Galleria Doria-Pamphilj.
*Salome (or Judith). Canvas, 90 x 72.
Usually called 'Salome', though most sixteenth-century Venetian pictures showing a young woman holding the severed head of a male victim are likely to depict the Old Testament heroine Judith. An early work (about 1515-16), once ascribed to Giorgione and attributed to Pordenone by Crowe and Cavalcaselle. The attribution to Titian was made by Morelli (1890). It has been suggested that the head of the Baptist (Holofernes) is a self-portrait, and also that the same model was used for Salome (Judith) as for Giorgione’s Venus (finished by Titian) at Dresden. Probably the ‘Judith’ by Titian that was owned by Alfonso d’Este in 1533 and the ‘Herodias’ recorded in the collection of Lucretia d’Este in 1592; and probably among the Este pictures that passed into the hands of Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini, nephew of Pope Clement VIII, after Ferrara fell to the Papal States in 1598. Inherited by Olimpia Aldobrandini, who married Camillio Pamphilj in 1647. Restored in 2010-11.
Religion succoured by Spain. Canvas, 168 x 168.
An unfinished replica, probably from Titian's workshop, of the painting sent to Philip of Spain in 1575 and now at the Prado. Like the Salome, it entered the Pamphilj collection after the marriage in 1647 of Olimpia Aldobrandini and Camillio Pamphilj. Restored in 2002.
Rome. Galleria Spada.
Portrait of a Musician. Canvas, 99 x 82.
The sitter, who appears to be holding a large stringed instrument (bass viol?), looks up from the musical score he has been studying, his long hair falling over his shoulders. The portrait is clearly unfinished. It appears to have been first seriously noticed by Crowe and Cavalcaselle (1877) who, noting the initials ‘CA’ on the table, identified it as the portrait of Battista Ceciliano mentioned by Vasari as painted by Orazio Vecellio when he accompanied his father to Rome in 1545-46. The idea that it might be an early work of Titian himself dates only from the early 1930s. Wethey (in his 1971 volume on Titian’s portraits) described it dismissively as a ‘highly mediocre picture in a wretched state of preservation’, but the attribution has been accepted by most recent critics, with a dating around 1515.
Rotterdam. Boymans-Von Beuningen Museum.
Boy with Dogs. Canvas, 99 x 117.
This puzzling picture, said to refer to a story in which a young prince saves dogs from a fire, is probably a fragment. The dog on the right is almost identical to the one in Titian’s so-called Portrait of the Duke of Atri in Kassel. Usually dated about 1570. Formerly in the Serbelloni collection, Milan; acquired by the museum in 1958.
Saint Louis. Art Museum.
*‘Ecce Homo’. Canvas, 109 x 93.
A very late work (about 1570?), which adds Pontius Pilate (in ermine-lined gown and diademed turban) and a smirking boy (holding the rope that ties Christ’s wrists) to earlier versions of the subject, such as that of 1548 in the Prado. Parts (such as the torch in the top left corner) are extremely sketchy, while others (particularly Pilate’s sumptuous costume) are highly finished. The composition was probably influenced by a painting of around 1520 by the Flemish artist Quentin Massys. (Massys's Ecce Homo, which was probably brought to Venice in the early sixteenth century by the collector Cardinal Domenico Grimani, is now at the Doge's Palace.) The head of Pilate is based on the so-called Grimani Vitellius – a magnificent Roman marble bust now in the Venice Archaeological Museum. Possibly the picture ('partly finished, partly sketched and by Titian's hand') purchased in Venice in 1644 by the painter Gabriele Balestrieri for Paolo Coccapani, Bishop of Reggio. Acquired by the museum in 1936 from the Galerie Heinemann. There are several other versions. One at the Prado is probably by Titian’s workshop. Others – at Dresden (traditionally ascribed to Francesco Vecellio), at Munich (on long-term loan to Münsterschwarzach Abbey) and in the British Royal Collection (poorly preserved) – are distinctly inferior.
St Petersburg. Hermitage.
*Flight into Egypt. Canvas, 204 x 325.
This huge picture is described by Vasari as one of Titian’s earliest works, painted just after the Fondaco dei Tedeschi frescoes. In Vasari’s day it was in the palazzo of Andrea Loredan, situated on the Grand Canal at San Marcuola, but it is not known if this was its original location. Joannides (2001) conjectured that the canvas was not commissioned by Andrea Loredan for his palazzo but rather was painted for the sidewall of a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary and only later transferred to the Palazzo Loredan. The Palazzo Loredan, built by Mauro Coducci, was finished by 1509, and the painting could date from a year or two earlier. It was still in the palazzo (now known as the Vendramin-Calergi) in 1648, when it was described by Ridolfi. In 1768 it was acquired by Catherine the Great for the Winter Palace in St Petersburg from Count Heinrich Brühl of Dresden, First Minister of Augustus III of Saxony. Though attributed to Titian, it was placed in store at the end of the eighteenth century and later hung in the imperial palaces at Tauride and Gatchina. It was almost totally forgotten until 1915, when Baron Ernest Liphart, keeper of the Hermitage, published a reproduction of it in an article on the Italian paintings at Gatchina. Liphart initially proposed an attribution to Paris Bordone. By 1920 he had changed his mind, restoring Titian’s name and identifying the painting with the Flight into Egypt described by Vasari; but it was many years before the attribution was fully accepted. (For example, Berenson ascribed the picture to Paris Bordone in his 1932 and 1957 Lists, and Wethey dismissed it in few words as the work of a follower of Giovanni Bellini in his monumental 1969 monograph.) Among recent Titian specialists, only Charles Hope (London Review of Books, May 2012) has denied Titian's authorship.
The picture may be uncertain in drawing, like other very early works of Titian, with the figures oddly doll-like and out of scale, but it is remarkable for its landscape background – a sweeping panorama of hills, woods and lakes. Two youthful shepherds, seated under a tree, chat with a soldier, as their sheep, goats and bull graze in a meadow, and a stag, vulture and fox are seen in the right foreground. The Joseph seems to have been painted from the same model as the St Peter in Titian’s very early Jacopo Pesaro Presented to St Peter by Pope Alexander VI at Antwerp. Restoration in 2000-11 carefully removed old varnish and centuries of repainting. X-rays reveal that Titian originally sketched, in the very centre of the picture, a wholly different composition, consisting of three figures and possibly representing an Adoration.
*Penitent Magdalen ('Barbarigo Magdalen'). Canvas, 119 x 98.
The St Petersburg Magdalen has the same pose as the much earlier Magdalen in Florence, but she is clothed rather than naked. Her book rests on a human skull (a momento mori) and her jar of ointment is in the bottom left corner. Signed on the left. The first version of the painting may now be lost. According to Vasari, it was painted for Philip II but Silvio Badoer, a Venetian nobleman, saw it on the painter’s easel and bought it for a hundred scudi. Titian painted a replica for the king, which was despatched to Spain in 1561 but is also now lost. (After being looted from the Escorial during the Napoleonic Wars, it was taken to England and perished in a fire at Bath House in 1873; there is a copy by Luca Giordano still in the Escorial.) In addition to the St Petersburg version, which is usually considered the finest, there are replicas attributed to Titian or his workshop at Naples (probably painted for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese in 1567), Los Angeles (Getty Museum), Stuttgart (Staatsgalerie) and in private collections (one, with a provenance from the collection of Queen Christina of Sweden, was auctioned at the Dorotheum, Vienna, in May 2022 for €4.8 million). Titian employed the Flemish engraver Cornelis Cort to engrave the composition in 1566. The St Petersburg Magdalen was still in Titian’s studio in the Calle dei Biri at his death. (There is a fanciful story that he died holding it.) It was among the many paintings sold with the house and all its contents by Titian's son and heir Pomponio to the nobleman Cristoforo Barbarigo in October 1581. The entire Barbarigo collection was bought by Tsar Nicholas I in 1850.
Christ carrying the Cross. Canvas, 90 x 77.
A late work (about 1565). There is another version, signed and almost identical, in the Prado. Enlarged on all sides (it was originally about the same size as the Prado version). X-rays reveal a discarded painting of Christ Blessing on the re-used canvas. Acquired in 1850 with the Barbarigo collection.
‘Salvator Mundi’. Canvas, 96 x 80.
In a traditional (ultimately Byzantine) pose, Christ is shown half-length, blessing and holding a crystal globe. Another of the paintings left in Titian's studio at his death and acquired by Tsar Nicholas I with the Barbarigo collection. It was once rather neglected (eg. omitted from Tietze’s 1950 monograph and Berenson’s Lists), but is now generally recognised as a genuine late work. It appears to be slightly unfinished, but may date from the 1560s rather than from Titian's very last years.
Saint Sebastian. Canvas, 212 x 116.
Yet another late work left in Titian’s studio at his death. Possibly commissioned by a Venetian patron as protection against the terrible plague of 1575-76, which is estimated to have killed almost a third of the population of the city and claimed Titian himself as a victim. Probably unfinished: the cuirass at Sebastian’s feet is especially sketchy. X-rays reveal that a discarded painting of the Tribute Money (a replica of the picture of about 1568 in the National Gallery, London) was reused for the upper part of the canvas support. Another of the paintings bought by Tsar Nicholas I from the Barbarigo family in 1850.
Girl with a Plumed Hat. Canvas, 96 x 75.
X-rays suggest that the jaunty hat is actually a later addition. Apart from the hat and other differences in costume, the picture is very similar to the Girl in a Fur at Vienna. Sometimes considered a copy by Titian’s workshop or a follower, but generally acknowledged to be a work of high quality. Acquired in 1772 with the Crozat collection.
Danaë. Canvas, 120 x 187.
A replica – of good but not fully autograph quality – of the Danaë in the Prado, which is itself a later variant of the Danaë in Naples. The picture’s first owner was probably the Venetian nobleman Silvio Badoer, who also owned a Mary Magdalene by Titian. Considered the pearl of the Crozat collection, it was valued at 12,000 livres by the dealer Claude Lallemant.
Madonna and Child with the Magdalen. Canvas, 98 x 82.
The youthful Magdalen offers the Christ Child her jar of ointment. Neglected by many critics and ascribed to Titian’s studio by others, this may be an at least partly autograph work of the 1550s. From the Barbarigo collection. A variant at the Uffizi replaces the Magdalen with St Catherine of Alexandria. Another variant, acquired by the Hungarian central bank in 2015, replaces her with St Paul. The newly restored Hermitage painting was displayed alongside both variants in an exhibition held at Belluno in January-May 2017 to mark the opening of the new Museo Civico.
Portrait of Catarino Zen. Canvas, 100 x 78.
The picture is much damaged and repainted, but the inscription along the top, which gives the name of the sitter and his age, and Titian’s signature on the left appear to be original. Catarino Zen (c.1453-1539) was a Venetian senator, ambassador to Turkey and great traveller. Adding the sitter’s stated age of 63 to his approximate date of birth gives a date of around 1516 for the portrait. Acquired (as a work of Titian’s school) in 1920.
Portrait of Pope Paul III. Canvas, 98 x 79.
A studio replica of the portrait painted by Titian in Rome in 1545-46. The original, now in Naples, is largely ruined. Left in Titian's workshop at his death and acquired by Tsar Nicholas I in 1850 with the Barbarigo collection.
San Francisco. De Young Memorial Museum.
Portrait of a Friend of Titian. Canvas, 88 x 70.
On the letter is written: Di Titiano Vecellio singolare amico. As he is holding the letter in his left hand, the sitter has been identified as Francesco Sinistro, ‘a great friend of Titian’ whose portrait is mentioned by Vasari. Several other names have also been suggested, however, including the eminent lawyer Francesco Sonica or Assonica (who was also Titian's compare according to Vasari), the mosaicist Francesco Zuccato (who appears with Titian in a double portrait, mentioned by Ridolfi and formerly in the Earl of Darnley's collection, that was sold at Bonham's in 2013) and Marco Mantova Benavides (professor of law at the University of Padua, whose likeness is recorded by portrait medals and engravings). What is undoubtedly the same man appears with Titian and Andrea dei Franceschi in a triple portrait (ascribed to Titian’s workshop) in the British Royal Collection. The San Francisco portrait may date from the late 1540s. It is first certainly recorded in 1844, when it was in the collection of the Marquis of Lansdowne. It remained in the Lansdowne collection at Bowood House in Wiltshire until 1930, when it was sold at Christie's. Acquired by Samuel H. Kress in 1954 from the New York dealer David Koeser.
São Paulo. Museu de Art.
*Portrait of Cristoforo Madruzzo. Canvas, 210 x 109.
Cristoforo Madruzzo (1511-77) became Bishop of Trent in 1539 and was elected a cardinal in 1543. The date 1552 appears on the clock and on the inscription on the paper. Vasari mentions the picture as one of Titian’s comparatively rare full-length portraits. It was originally in the Castello de Buonconsiglio (the Bishop’s Palace) at Trent. It was exported secretly to Paris, where it was acquired in 1906 by James Stillman of New York. Later in the Rockerfeller collection, it was bought by the São Paulo Museum in 1950.
Sarasota. Ringling Museum of Art.
Portrait of Woman in Oriental Dress ('La Sultana Rossa'). Canvas, 100 x 78.
She holds a pet marten tethered by a gold chain. Traditionally called 'La Sultana Rossa' after the Ruthenian slave Roxelana, who became the chief consort and wife of the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. That identification is based on a passing reference by Vasari to a portrait by Titian of 'Rossa, wife of the Great Turk at the age of sixteen'. Both the identification of the subject and Titian's authorship of the painting have been disputed. The museum now catalogues the picture simply as a 'Portrait of a Woman', with an attribution to Titian's workshop. The pose and features of the model are very like those of the Woman with an Apple at Washington. The picture may be the 'Turkish Lady with a Landscape' recorded in 1612 in the Riccardi collection at the Palazzo di Valfonda, Florence. By 1815 it had passed into the hands of Lucien Bonaparte (Napoleon's younger brother), and from 1843 to 1927 it was in the Holford collection at Dorcester House, London. Bequeathed to the museum in 1936 with the collection of its founder John Ringling.
Serravalle (Vittorio Veneto). Duomo.
Madonna appearing to SS. Peter and Andrew. Canvas, 456 x 270.
Titian owned a house in Serravalle, which is on the road between Venice and Cadore. This huge picture still stands over the high altar of the church (rebuilt in 1776) for which it was painted. It was ordered in 1542 by the Venetian podestà of Serravalle. The contract was signed on 13 November and Titian was to receive 250 ducats. The altarpiece was not finished until 1547 (and payments were completed only in February 1553). Titian's workshop (perhaps his long-term assistant Girolamo Dente or young son Orazio) doubtless had a part in the execution (particularly of the two saints). In the seventeenth century, Cosimo III de' Medici sent his architect, Pier Maria Baldi, to Serravalle to access the quality of Titian's altarpiece. Baldi, deciding the picture was in poor condition, chose not to acquire it for the Grand Duke.
Sibiu (Hermannstadt in Romania). Brukenthal Museum.
Ecce Homo. Canvas, 66 x 53.
One of several variants by Titian and/or his workshop of the painting on slate at the Prado. It is in Titian's late style (around 1560). Recorded in the 1659 inventory of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm's collection at Vienna. Acquired at Vienna by Baron Samuel von Brukenthal, Hapsburg Governor of Transylvania, who transferred his valuable collection to Sibiu in 1774-77. It was sent to Vienna for storage during the First World War, when it was restored and probably shortened at the bottom. It was one of seven works stolen from the museum in 1968. Discovered thirty years later in the United States and returned to Sibiu in 1998.
Penitent Magdalen. Canvas, 114 x 99.
One of Titian's most repeated compositions. The best surviving version (left in Titian's workshop at his death) is now in the Hermitage at St Petersburg, and there are other notable versions at the Capodimonte, Naples, and Getty Museum, Los Angeles. There are several versions in private collections. (One was auctioned at Sotheby's, New York, in January 2008 and another was sold at Christie's, London, in July 2018. Both are signed.) The Stuttgart picture is signed but was probably executed largely by Titian's workshop. It is said to have belonged to the sculptor Antonio Canova and was acquired by the museum in 1852 from the Barbini-Breganze collection.
Tokyo. National Gallery of Western Art.
Salome(?). Canvas, 90 x 83.
The subject could be either the New Testament temptress Salome (displaying the head of John the Baptist on a trencher in the presence of her mother Herodias) or the Old Testament heroine Judith (with the head of the Assyrian general Holofernes and accompanied by her loyal maidservant Abra). The picture was once in the collection of Charles I (whose brand is on the back). It disappeared from view between 1736 (when it is last documented in the royal collection) and 1913 (when it is recorded in a private collection in Scotland). It was put up for sale at Christie's, London, in 1994 with an attribution to Titian's studio and an estimate of only £8,000. It was sold to an Italian collector in 2001 and, after cleaning, was offered at auction at Sotheby's, New York, in 2009 with a guide price of $4-6 million. It failed to sell, but was acquired by the Tokyo museum in 2012. The picture was probably produced in Titian's workshop in the 1560s, with the master arguably contributing some finishing touches. Another version was formerly in the collection of Count Raczynski at Berlin and is now in a private collection in New York. The earliest version was possibly a now-lost painting once in the collection of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm (known through an engraving and a painted copy by David Teniers).
Trapani (Sicily). Museo Nazionale Pépoli.
St Francis receiving the Stigmata. Canvas, 281 x 195.
There are no early references to this large, rather damaged canvas, which was transferred to the museum in about 1928. Once ascribed to the minor artist Vincenzo da Pavia, it was attributed to Titian by Roberto Longhi in 1946. Datings have ranged from the early 1930s (Pedrocco) to the late 1540s (Wethey).
Treviso. Museo Civico.
Portrait of Sperone Speroni. Canvas, 113 x 92.
The inscription, upper right, gives the sitter’s age: forty-four. The portrait has been identified with that mentioned in the will of the Paduan humanist Sperone Speroni, who was Professor of Logic at the university from 1528 and is best known for his dramatic dialogues involving contemporary personages. The will, drafted in 1569, states that Titian had painted Speroni’s portrait twenty-five years earlier, ie. in 1544 when Speroni was forty-four. The portrait has sometimes been ascribed to Titian’s workshop. It was acquired by the museum from the Manieri collection in 1954. Restored for the 2007 exhibition Tiziano L’Ultimo Atto at Belluno and Pieve di Cadore.
Treviso. Duomo. Malchiostro Chapel.
*Annunciation. Wood, 210 x 176.
The composition is strikingly asymmetric. Contrary to tradition, the Virgin is placed on the left, kneeling frontally in the foreground, while Gabriel is on the right, rushing in from behind. The picture remains in its original location and in its original marble frame carved by Lorenzo Bregno. It was commissioned by Canon Broccardo Malchiostro as the altarpiece of his chapel. (Malchiostro administered the Diocese of Treviso as the deputy legate of the Bishop of Treviso, Bernardo de' Rossi, who had been expelled from the city by the Venetians and lived in exile in Rome.) Building work on the chapel was completed in October 1519 and the decoration of the walls and cupola – frescoed by Pordenone – was complete by January 1523. Titian's signature and the date 1520 were discovered on the altarpiece (bottom right) during restoration in 2021. Some critics have argued that the clumsy angel must have been painted by an assistant (Paris Bordone?). The portrait of the donor, Broccardo Malchiostro, lurking behind the pillar in the background, was vandalised in 1526 ('attacked and disfigured with pitch and other dirt by some sons of iniquity') and has been repainted. The restoration in 2021 strengthed the fragile wooden support and thinned or removed old varnish and repaint.
Urbino. Galleria Nazionale.
*Resurrection; Last Supper. Canvas, 163 x 104.
Painted for the Compagnia del Corpus Domini at Urbino as two sides of a processional banner. Payments are recorded between the winter of 1542 and February 1544, and the banner was delivered in June 1544. The two sides were divided as early as 1545, and displayed on either side of the Compagnia’s altar in Pian di Mercato. (The separation was performed by Pietro Viti, son of the painter Timoteo Viti, who also painted the richly decorated gold frames.) The two canvases were later moved to the church of San Francesco, and transferred to the Belle Arti in 1866 and thence to the new Galleria Nazionale in 1912. Before the paintings were restored in 1973, the execution (particularly of the Resurrection) was often ascribed largely to assistants. There was another restoration in 2018, when fragments of the original painted borders were discovered.
*Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple. Canvas, 335 x 775.
This huge canvas – over twenty-six feet long and the largest of all Titian’s pictures – was painted for the Scuola di Santa Maria della Carità, which owned the building that now houses the Accademia. The initial competition to paint the Presentation was won in 1504 by a minor painter, Pasqualino Veneto, who died shortly afterwards. It was another thirty years before Titian, on 29 August 1534, was invited to take up the commission. His picture was finished by 6 March 1538. The Scuola was closed in the early nineteenth century and its building converted into the Accademia, but the Presentation was returned in 1895 to the wall for which it was painted in the Sala dell’Albergo of the former confraternity. The canvas makes allowance for two doors in the wall: the right-hand door is original, but the left-hand one was added in 1572, cutting out the lower part of several figures in the foreground. The general composition, with the child Virgin ascending a flight of stone steps, repeats that of earlier Venetian pictures of this subject by Cima (now at Dresden) and Carpaccio (at Milan). The spectators include portraits of members of the Scuola in their black and red togas and black caps. (Ridolfi notes the Chancellor of the Republic Andrea de' Franceschi ‘in ducal garb’ and Senator Lazzaro Crasso. His identification of the red-robed figure in the left foreground as de' Franceschi was repeated by Boschini and many other writers; but it seems to be mistaken, as there is little resemblance between the figure and Titian's authentic portraits of de Franceschi at Detroit and Washington.) The detail (far left) of the giving of alms to a begging mother is an obvious reference to the Scuola's charitable mission. The elderly egg-seller, sitting with her basket in the centre foreground, may also represent charity (or, according to a very different interpretation, unconverted Judaism). A two-year restoration was completed in 2012.
*Saint John the Baptist. Canvas, 201 x 134.
The head of the saint recalls that of Donatello’s polychrome statue in the Frari, while his striking heroic pose may have been suggested by antique sculpture. Signed on the stone on which the saint rests his left foot. Painted for Vincenzo di Giacomo Polani’s chapel (to the right of the chancel) in Santa Maria Maggiore in Venice. It was removed to the Accademia after the church was secularised in 1808. It is difficult to date. Vasari places it quite early in his Life of Titian – before the Death of St Peter Martyr, the lost masterpiece completed in 1530. Crowe and Cavalcaselle dated it as late as the mid-1550s, while recent opinions have ranged from the early 1530s to the mid-1540s. The picture retains its original fluted cassetta frame.
There is another version, in Titian's late style, at the Escorial. (Yet a third version was brought to light recently in the church of Nuestra Señora del Carmen at Cantoria in southern Spain. Gravely damaged, it was restored at the Prado in 2007-12. Previously thought to be an old Spanish copy, it has now been attributed (by MIguel Falomir, chief curator at the Prado) to Titian as a work of the mid-1550s. The three versions of the Saint John the Baptist were brought together for a mini-exhibition held at the Prado from November 2012 to February 2013.)
**Pietà. Canvas, 352 x 349.
This huge picture was painted by Titian for his own tomb in the Cappella del Crocifisso at the Frari. (The chapel, the second on the right of the nave, is now occupied by the gigantic neoclassical monument sculpted in the mid-nineteenth century by Domenico Zandomeneghi and his son Pietro.) The picture was installed in the chapel by 1 March 1575. But the Friars subsequently moved it to another altar, prompting Titian to demand its return. After Titian's death in August 1576, the picture came into the possession of Palma Giovane, who made some alterations to it and added the inscription: ‘What Titian has left unfinished, Palma has completed with reverence, and dedicated the work to God’. Titian himself is possibly represented as the penitent St Jerome kneeling on the right. In the bottom right-hand corner a small votive tablet is painted showing Titian and his son Orazio praying to the Virgin. Behind the tablet is the Vecellio coat-of-arms. (The Hapsburg double-headed eagle refers to the knighthood conferred on Titian by Charles V.) Palma’s hand is usually seen in the torch-bearing angel and sometimes in the right-hand statue of St Helen, but he does not appear to have done much to the central section of the picture, which was probably completely finished by Titian. The picture is painted on no less than seven pieces of canvas, and it is possible that the central Pietà (160 x 190) started life as a different composition.
The picture remained with Palma Giovane until his death in 1628, after which it was placed in the church of Sant’Angelo (or Anzolo). The church, which stood near Santo Stefano, was closed in 1810 and the picture was transferred to the Accademia in 1814. Restored in 1954 and again in 2007. The intricately carved gilded frame (restored in 2008) was fitted to the painting in the 1920s. It is believed to have been made from a sixteenth-century ceiling cornice.
Madonna and Child ('Albertini Madonna'). Canvas, 124 x 96.
The Virgin and Child appear jointly to be holding an apple. The fire, upper left, is thought to represent the burning bush – a symbol of Mary's perpetual virginity. Recorded, with an attribution to Titian, in 1616 in the collection of the Marchese Mazenta of Milan. Bequeathed to the Accademia by Leonardo Albertini in 1981. A fairly late work (early 1560s?), probably painted with workshop assistance. X-rays have revealed that the picture was painted over an upside down figure of a female saint. (The image resembles a half-length Saint Catherine of Alexandria at the Prado (currently on loan to the museum at Oviedo).) The picture is in fairly poor condition, and restoration in 2005 did not attempt to remove old repaint.
Symbols of the Evangelists; Masks and Cherubs.
There are four long canvases with symbols of the Four Evangelists (45/47 x 198/240) and fifteen small canvases with grotesque masks and cherubs heads. They formed part of the ceiling decoration of the Sala dell’Albergo of the Scuola di Giovanni Evangelista, which was painted by Titian and his workshop in the 1540s. The ceiling is described in Francesco Sansovino's Venetia, Città Nobilissima (1581). It remained intact until 1806, when the Scuola was among the confraternities closed by Napoleonic decree. Shortly after the canvases were transferred in 1812 to the new Accademia Gallery, the large central square, representing St John on Patmos, passed into the hands of a dealer. It is now at Washington. The remaining canvases were subsequently put into storage. They remained almost forgotten until 1935, when the four canvases with symbols of the Evangelists were included in the major Titian exhibition held in Venice that year.
Tobias and the Angel. Wood, 170 x 146.
This small and damaged altarpiece is sometimes associated with the Angel Raphael with Tobias and a Dog said by Vasari to have been painted for the church of San Marziale in 1507. If this identification were correct, the picture would be the earliest by Titian that can be precisely dated. However the picture came not from San Marziale (which had a comparatively late altarpiece by Titian of this subject – recently transferred to Madonna dell'Orto) but from the Augustinian convent church of Santa Caterina. It has been argued that Vasari confused the two Venetian churches. The picture was ascribed by Marco Boschini (Le Miniere (1664)) to the obscure Sante Zago. It was, however, reproduced as a work of Titian by Valentin Lefebre (whose Opera Selectoria of etchings after Titian and Veronese was published posthumously in 1682). Modern critics have sometimes considered the picture a copy of a lost youthful Titian. The buildings on the left reappear in the very early Baptism of Christ (Capitoline Museum, Rome). The coat-of-arms is that of the Bembo family. (It is known that Pietro Bembo's nieces were educated at the convent of Santa Caterina.) Transferred to the Accademia after Santa Caterina was closed by Napoleon in 1807.
Venice. Palazzo Ducale.
*Saint Christopher. Fresco, 300 x 179.
The muscular saint, leaning on a staff, wades across the river. The Christ Child, seated on his shoulder, makes a gesture of blessing. In the background, a sketchy view of Venice from the lagoon. The only fresco by Titian that is still in situ in Venice. It is situated above a door in the Sala dei Filosofi, at the foot of the staircase leading from the Doge’s private apartments to the Senate Hall. It was commissioned by Doge Andrea Gritti, probably soon after his nomination on 20 May 1523. It was painted in just three giornate (days of work). Cleaned in 1986.
Madonna and Child with Two Angels. Fresco, 160 x 350.
This damaged fresco was originally situated in a lunette at the foot of a staircase in the Doge’s Palace (Sala dei Senatori). It was flanked by a lunette of the Resurrection by Francesco Vecellio which has also been preserved. Like the Saint Christopher, it was probably painted in about 1523. Titian worked on it for only two giornate. Detached and transferred to canvas in 1899.
Doge Grimani before Faith. Canvas, 365 x 560.
Doge Antonio Grimani (reigned 1521-23) kneels piously before the figure of Faith, who descends from Heaven, in a blaze of light, surrounded by putti and holding a cross and chalice. To the right, a page kneels with the Doge's hat (corno ducale). St Mark stands on the left holding his Gospel and accompanied by his lion. At the bottom is a view of the Piazza San Marco from across the water. This huge canvas is situated to the right of the entrance of the Sala delle Quattro Porte. It was ordered by the Republic on 12 March 1555, more than thirty years after Doge Grimani's death. It was apparently seen unfinished by Vasari in Titian’s studio in 1566, and it remained unfinished when the painter died in 1576. It appears to have been completed some years later by Titian's nephew, Marco Vecellio, who received a final payment of 20 ducats on 6 March 1593 and probably also painted the separate figures of the Prophet and the standard bearer at the sides. It is the only one of the votive pictures commissioned from Titian as State Painter to have escaped the fires of 1574 and 1577.
Venice. Libreria Vecchia.
*Wisdom. Canvas, 169 x 169.
Hexagonal canvas, set in a sumptuous frame by Cristoforo Rosa, on the ceiling of the ante-room to the Libreria Sansoviniana. The young woman – interpreted by Ridolfi (1648) as a personification of History but by Moschini (1815) as Wisdom – sits on a cloud, holding a scroll and contemplating her reflection in a mirror supported by a cherub. Probably painted shortly after September 1559, when Titian was asked to value the ceiling decorations painted by Rosa.
Venice. Ca d’Oro. Galleria Franchetti.
Frescoes from the façade of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi: Seven fragments.
The Fondaco dei Tedeschi (now the central Post Office) was the headquarters of the German merchants in Venice – with offices, warehouses and living accommodation. It was rebuilt by May 1508, after a fire in 1505, and the frescoes on the façades were completed by 11 December 1508, when they were valued by Vittore Carpaccio, Lazzaro Bastiani and Vittore di Matteo at 150 ducats. Only Giorgione’s name appears on the documents, but Dolce (1557) and Vasari state that Titian was his collaborator. Dolce says that he was not yet twenty years old at the time. According to Vasari, he painted the frescoes on the less important Mercerie façade on the south side, overlooking a narrow street, while Giorgione painted those on the façade over the Grand Canal. A mysterious ‘Morto da Feltre’ was responsible for the grotesque decoration. Most of what remained of the frescoes was destroyed in 1884. The few surviving fragments were discovered under white plaster, detached, and transferred to canvas in 1967. The Judith (212 x 345), identified by Vasari as Germania, was located over a doorway. We know from an engraving, made by Jacopo Piccini in 1658, that it originally showed the Old Testament heroine with her foot on the severed head of Holofernes, while a German soldier on the left conceals a dagger treacherously behind his back. The Putti and Fantastic Beasts (212 x 300) was part of a monochromatic frieze painted above it.
Venice. Scuola di San Rocco.
*Annunciation. Canvas, 160 x 266.
Bequeathed to the Scuola in 1555 by a lawyer named Amelio da Cortona who belonged to the Brotherhood of San Rocco. It has been dated between the mid-1530s and mid-1540s. It hangs, faced by Tintoretto's Visitaion, high above an arch on the monumental staircase leading to the Upper Hall. It was taken down for safety in 1915, during the First World War, and was displayed until recently near to the altar of the Upper Hall. It has now been returned to its original location. Restoration in 1989-90 removed dirt and brown repaint, but the Virgin's blue mantle has darkened irreversibly almost to black.
Christ bearing Cross. Canvas, 68 x 88.
A hook-nosed executioner faces Christ and clutches the rope that is looped around his neck. The profile of another executioner is seen behind him, at the painting's left edge, and the profile of a bearded man (Simon of Cyrene?) is almost hidden in the shadows behind Christ's back. Thinly painted, worn and retouched. Until 1955, the picture hung in the church of San Rocco, adjacent to the Scuola, where it is first recorded in 1520 and was greatly venerated as a votive image. (Vasari says it ‘received in alms more in crowns than Titian and Giorgione ever earned in all their lives.’) The picture could have been commissioned as an altarpiece for a private chapel in the church or it could have been gifted to the Scuola by one of its members. Early sources provide conflicting evidence on authorship. Vasari ascribed the picture to Giorgione in his 1550 and 1568 Lives, but also ascribed it to Titian in the 1568 edition, adding that ‘many have thought it to be the work of Giorgione’. Sansovino (1581), Ridolfi (1648) and Boschini (1664) all gave it to Titian, while Van Dyck sketched it as a Giorgione during his visit to Venice in the early 1620s. Modern critical opinion is still divided on the matter. Irrespective of views on authorship, the picture has almost always been dated towards 1510.
The tabernacle frame and the lunette are somewhat later (around 1520?). The frame was originally simpler and painted blue, and only later embellished and gilded. The lunette painting of God the Father with Angels bearing instruments of the Passion (wood, 68 x 128) has been attributed to Titian and/or his workshop.
Until recently, the Christ bearing the Cross was displayed on an easel near to the altar of the Upper Hall. Together with a Dead Christ (sometimes attributed to the young Titian in the past, but now regarded as a work begun by the elderly Giovanni Bellini and completed by his assistant Vittore Belliniano), it has now been moved to an alcove off the flight of stairs leading from the Upper Hall to the Treasury.
Venice. Fondazione Cini.
Saint George. Wood, 125 x 66.
A ruined fragment (approximately one third of an altarpiece). Attributed to Giorgione in the nineteenth century, when it was in English collections. Later ascribed to Palma Vecchio, it was one of a good number of paintings reassigned to the young Titian in the 1920s and 1930s by Roberto Longhi, who proposed a dating as early as about 1511. In 1950, Hans Tietze (Titian: Paintings and Drawings) identified the panel as a fragment of an altarpiece commissioned by the Venetian Senate as a gift for the French general Odet de Foix, Vicomte de Lautrec, in gratitude for retaking Brescia and Verona from Spain in January 1517. The altarpiece represented three warrior saints: Theodore, Michael and George. It was delivered on 14 June 1517. The fragment was previously overpainted. Cleaning has revealed an original paint surface that is severely abraded. The tip of St Michael's left wing is just visible at the left edge.
Venice. Basilica of San Marco. Sacristy.
Designs for Mosaics.
The charming Renaissance sacristy is situated in the apse of the basilica, just to the left of the high altar. The mosaics were executed in 1524-30 by Francesco Zuccato (son of Titian's first master Sebastiano Zuccato), Alberto Zio and Marco Luciano. The mosaic on the west wall shows the Virgin and Child between St George and St Theodore; Christ and the Four Evangelists and Old Testament Prophets are represented on the vaulted ceiling; and the Twelve Apostles and St Paul and St Mark are depicted in the two lunettes. Titian's workshop provided designs. One of the finest of the mosaics is that of the Prophet Ezekiel, which is signed by Zuccato and was probably designed by Titian himself.
**Assumption. Wood, 690 x 360.
This great altarpiece – the largest that had been painted in Venice – was commissioned by Fra Germano da Caiole, prior of the Frari convent, in 1516 (the date inscribed on the massive stone frame). It was unveiled over the high altar, where it still hangs in the lofty Gothic apse, on the eve of the Feast of St Bernardino, 19 May 1518. The Assumption established Titian’s reputation as the leading Venetian artist. However its conception was so revolutionary that it was not well received at first by the Frari monks, and Titian had great difficulty in collecting his fee. According to Dolce and Ridolfi, Fra Germano, failing to understand the dramatic perspective, complained that the Apostles were too large. The monks were only persuaded of the picture’s worth when the Austrian ambassador offered large sums of money to buy it for the Emperor.
After escaping the Napoleonic plunder of artworks, the picture was transferred in late 1816 to the Accademia. Such was the size of the crate used to transport the painting that a new window had to be cut on the upper floor to get it into the building. The picture, blackened by candle smoke and incense, was restored in 1817, and the figure of St Peter (described as flaking as early as 1674) was reconstructed by the painter Lattanzio Querina. Some hundred years later, in 1919, the picture was returned to the Frari. The richly decorated Istrian stone frame, modelled on a Roman triumphal arch, was probably sculpted by Lorenzo and Giambattista Bregno. For its age and size, the picture is in generally good condition. It was restored in 1974 and cleaned in 2012. A major new restoration of both the picture and frame was underway in early 2019 and completed in October 2022.
**Pesaro Madonna. Canvas, 478 x 267.
Commissioned on 24 April 1519 by Jacopo Pesaro – the Dominican Bishop of Paphos and papal legate for whom Titian had earlier painted the Jacopo Pesaro being presented by Pope Alexander VI to St Peter (now in Antwerp). Placed with great ceremony on the Altar of the Immaculate Conception on 8 December 1526. The composition is strikingly original, and had a great influence on subsequent Venetian altarpieces. The Madonna is seated not in the centre but upon a high throne well to the right. At her feet sits St Peter, who looks down on the kneeling donor. Behind the kneeling bishop stands a knight in black armour (sometimes identified as St George, St Theodore or St Maurice), holding a standard bearing the Pesaro and Borgia arms, and bringing two Turkish captives in chains. On the right, St Francis (with outstretched arms) and St Anthony of Padua commend five kneeling male members of the Pesaro family to the Madonna (Francesco Pesaro in the red robes of a senator and Jacopo’s two brothers and two nephews). Titian was paid, in numerous instalments, the surprisingly low price of 102 gold ducats (perhaps because of the prestige value of a work in such a prominent location). The marble frame and the picture were both restored in 2013-17, following earthquake damage in May 2012 to the altar and to the window and wall above. As well as removing surface dust and grime, the restoration addressed a serious problem of flaking paint.
*Martyrdom of St Lawrence. Canvas, 493 x 277.
Commissioned before November 1548 by Lorenzo Massolo to decorate his tomb in the church of Santa Maria Assunta dei Crociferi, but recorded as still unfinished when Massolo died in January 1557. Titian had recently returned from his eight-month stay in Rome when the commission was made, and he provides a convincing Roman setting for the martyrdom, with the Corinthian-columned building on the right and the pagan idol that the saint had refused to worship on an ornamented pedestal on the left. In 1564, the Massolo family having become extinct, the friars offered to sell the picture to Philip II of Spain for 200 scudi. In the event, Titian painted another version, which was completed in 1567 and is now in the Escorial. The picture passed in 1657 to the Jesuits, who purchased the church after the suppression of the Crociferi community. Then, after the church was rebuilt in an ornate Baroque style in 1715-30, Lorenzo Pezzaro took Titian’s picture for his own chapel (first on the left). Taken to France in 1797 and badly restored. The huge night scene is hard to see without electric light. Joshua Reynolds, who saw it in 1752 on his tour of Italy, wrote ‘it is so dark a picture that, at first casting my eyes on it, I thought there was a black curtain before it’. Restored in 2012. A man's head, swathed in a turban and possibly a self-portrait, was revealed in the bottom left corner.
Venice. Madonna dell’Orto. Cappella Vendramin (left aisle).
Tobias and the Angel. Canvas, 193 x 130.
Tobias, carrying the large fish he had caught, walks through the countryside with the Archangel Raphael, who holds up the box containing the fish's heart, liver and gall. The old man praying in the left background is usually identified as John the Baptist, but could be Tobias's blind father Tobi. The painting was moved to the Madonna dell'Orto quite recently from the nearby church of San Marziale (or San Marciliano). Vasari gives an impossibly early date of 1507 to the picture (or he confused it with the Tobias and the Angel from Santa Caterina, now in the Accademia). It seems to have been painted around 1540-45. Modern criticism has sometimes ascribed the execution to an assistant, but the picture's condition has made judgement difficult. A restoration to remove old varnish, repaint and dirt was underway in 2023. A copy in the Museo Civico at Urbania appears to have been painted around 1618 by Padovanino for Francesco Maria II della Rovere, the last Duke of Urbino.
Venice. San Giovanni Elemosinario (San Giovanni in Rialto).
Saint John the Almsgiver. Canvas, 264 x 156.
The saint (a seventh-century patriarch of Alexandria legendary for his generosity) is interrupted while reading, and turns to give a crippled beggar some coins. The picture was painted for the high altar of the church. On the strength of an inscription on the altar and Vasari’s Life, which places it shortly after Titian’s visit to Bologna of 1532-33, it was once believed to have been painted in about 1533. But it is now often dated later – mid or late 1540s – on stylistic grounds. Originally arched, it was made rectangular in about 1633 to fit a new high altar. Old repainting and yellow varnish were removed in a restoration of 1989-90.
Venice. SS. Giovanni e Paolo.
Death of St Peter Martyr (Copy). Canvas, 515 x 308.
St Peter, a Dominican grand inquisitor, was martyred in 1252 on his way from Como to Milan. He is shown thrown to the ground and about to be stabbed by his assassin, Carino of Balsamo. Two winged cherubs hover overhead, one brandishing the palm of martyrdom. The saint's companion, Brother Domenico, flees in terror to the left. Titian's picture was commissioned around 1526 by the Scuola di San Pietro Martire to replace an early fifteenth-century Gothic polyptych by Jacobello del Fiore. It was completed by the martyr's feast day, 29 April, 1530, and installed over the Scuola's altar in the church (second in the left aisle). The fee was a surprisingly low 100 ducats (which Titian had the greatest difficulty collecting). The picture was immediately famous (Dolce and Vasari both called it Titian's greatest work). In the early seventeenth century, the Flemish art dealer Daniel Nys (Nijs) offered the astonishing sum of 18,000 scudi for the painting. It remained one of the most admired of all works of European art until its destruction in 1867, when it was burnt (together with an altarpiece by Giovanni Bellini) in the Cappella del Rosario, where it was stored while its altar was being repaired.
The original marble frame now contains a copy of the seventeenth or eighteenth century. The copy was sent from Florence as a replacement by Vittorio Emanuele II after the fire. The copy may be the one commissioned in 1691 by Ferdinando de' Medici, Grand Prince of Tuscany, from Johann Carl Loth (Carlo Lotti), a German painter based in Venice. Titian's colours were probably brighter than suggested by the copy (both because the original may already have darkened by the time the copy was made and because the copy itself may have darkened). There are many other copies of the lost work, including a drawing (once thought to be by Titian himself) in the British Museum, several engravings (the earliest by Martino Rota) and a seventeenth-century painted copy in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
Venice. San Lio.
Saint James of Compostella. Canvas, 231 x 137.
Recorded in the church (first altar on the left of the nave) since the seventeenth century. The patron has recently been identified as Venturino di Varisco, a merchant from Bergamo, who in his will of June 1559 expressed a wish to be buried in the church ‘in the tomb I have made with the altarpiece of St James’. The picture may not have been painted until some years later (the altar was still incomplete in 1566). In the late eighteenth century, it was adapted to fit a new altar: its shape was changed (it may originally have had a straight top) and it was repainted. At the beginning of the twentieth century, it was ‘neglected and almost unrecognisable for dust and smoke’ (Gronau). In a restoration of 1981, an attempt was made to recover the original composition.
Venice. Santa Maria della Salute.
*St Mark and the Plague Saints. Canvas, 275 x 170.
This small altarpiece is a key early work, painted according to Vasari around the time of the Paduan frescoes of 1511. It was presumably commissioned as a thank-offering for the end of the1510-11 plague (which claimed Giorgione as one of its victims). Sebastian and Roch (on the right) are the saints usually evoked for protection against the plague, while Cosmas and Damian (on the left) are the patron saints of physicians. Vasari says that the faces of the saints are ‘portraits from life’. Like the other Titians in the Salute, the picture came from Sansovino’s church (demolished in 1656) on the island of Santo Spirito.
Descent of the Holy Spirit. Canvas, 570 x 260.
Commissioned by the Augustinian friars of Santo Spirito in Isola in 1529-30, but placed over the high altar only in 1541. Towards the end of 1543, the paint started to ‘flake and crack’ and ‘develop blisters’. Following a lawsuit brought by the friars (who were reluctant to pay not only 100 ducats more than the fee of 400 ducats originally agreed but also the cost of the restoration), Titian either restored the picture or painted another one from scratch. It now hangs over the third altar on the left side of the Salute. Previously very faded in appearance, cleaning in 1984-85 restored some of the original brilliance of the colour. One of Titian's rare surviving drawings (black and white chalk on discoloured blue paper) is a preparatory study for the kneeling figure of St Peter. Formerly in the Earl of Harewood's collection, it was sold in 2016 for £4.4 million.
*Ceiling decoration in Sacristy and Choir.
Vasari records that Titian took up the commission for the ceiling of the church of Santo Spirito which Vasari himself had abandoned when he left Venice in August 1542. Following the suppression of the Augustinian order in 1656, the canvases were transferred to the Salute. In the sacristy are three dramatic ceiling pictures: The Sacrifice of Isaac (320 x 280), David and Goliath (280 x 280), and Cain slaying Abel (280 x 280). With their bold foreshortening and violent action, they are among the most Mannerist of Titian’s works. It is possible that Vasari left behind his designs for the ceiling and that Titian drew on Vasari's compositional ideas. Titian could also have been influenced by frescoes painted by Pordenone around 1532-33 in the cloisters of Santo Stefano. (The frescoes are now largely destroyed but the compositions of the scenes of Cain and Abel and David and Goliath are recorded by engravings.)
The Heads of the Four Evangelists and Four Doctors of the Church (70 in dia.) in the ceiling of the choir behind the altar may have been painted largely by Titian’s workshop. The St Matthew, with a flowing beard, is said to be a self-portrait.
The canvas of David and Goliath was damaged in August 2010 after water, sprayed by firefighters tackling a blaze at the Seminario next to the church, seeped though the roof. It was removed from the ceiling for restoration and returned to the church at the end of 2012.
Venice. San Salvatore.
Transfiguration. Canvas, 245 x 295.
A radiant Christ rises between Moses and Elijah; in the foreground three apostles shield themselves from the light. A late work, perhaps dating from the early 1560s. It was seen in situ by Vasari in 1566. The picture screens the fourteenth-century silver reredos over the high altar of the church, and for centuries it was subjected to the wear and tear of being raised and lowered on a pulley. It has been repeatedly restored. Extensive repaint was removed in 1995-97. The picture surface, unsurprisingly, is very abraded,
*Annunciation. Canvas, 410 x 240.
The picture hangs over the third altar (probably designed by Jacopo Sansovino) in the south aisle. It was painted for the rich merchant Cornovi della Vecchia family, which also commissioned Titian’s Crucifixion in San Domenico in Ancona. It was commissioned in May 1559 (when Antonio Cornovi della Vecchia drew up his will) and must have been completed by 1566 (when Vasari visited Venice). In the lower right-hand corner is the Latin inscription ‘Fire that burns but does not consume’, alluding to the Immaculate Conception, while in the background is a depiction of the burning bush that Moses saw in the desert (which burnt without being consumed). There is an old tale that Titian signed it twice because the monks of San Salvatore doubted his share in the work. In fact, however, as revealed in a 1988-89 restoration, fecit fecit is an old restoration of faciebat. Vasari claims that the Transfiguration and Annunciation ‘were not greatly esteemed by Titian himself, and in fact fall short of the perfection of his other pictures'. According to Ridolfi (1648), the Annunciation was badly restored by the mediocre German artist Philip Esengren. There were subsequent treatments in 1733 (described by Zanetti), in 1821-23 (carried out by the Neoclassical painter Lattanzio Querena) and in 1896 (when candle grease was removed from the surface). The 1988-89 restoration removed old repaint and discoloured varnish.
Venice. San Sebastiano.
Saint NIcholas of Bari. Canvas, 171 x 91.
The elderly saint rises from his bishop's throne to deliver his blessing. An angel in an orange robe holds his mitre, and his three gold balls lie on the step of the throne. Vasari tells us that the picture was painted for the lawyer Niccolò Crasso, who purchased in January 1561 the rights to the chapel where it still stands. The carved inscription on the altar frontal gives the date 1563. Though the picture is signed (on the step of the throne), some critics doubted if Titian had much hand in its execution. A restoration in 1992, which removed discoloured old repainting and layers of darkened varnish, has helped to re-establish its status as an at least partly autograph very late work. St Nicholas's pose is repeated in a picture of Pope Sylvester painted in 1582 by Cesare Vecellio, Titian's pupil and third cousin, for the church of San Luca at Padola (Comelico Superiore).
*Assumption of the Virgin. Canvas, 392 x 214.
The Virgin, hands folded in prayer, ascends to heaven on a bank of cloud. St Thomas, in the midst of awestruck apostles crowded around the empty sarcophagus, clutches her girdle. The apostle praying on the right is said by Ridolfi (1648) to be a portrait of the Veronese architect Michele Sanmicheli. The picture, situated over the first altar in the left aisle in a frame designed by Jacopo Sansovino, was painted for the Nichisola family. It was noted by Vasari as 'the best of the modern works' in Verona. The context of Vasari's reference would suggest a date around 1541; modern critics have usually put it earlier, with datings ranging from the early 1520s to the 1530s. Taken to France in 1797 and returned to the chapel in 1815.
Vienna. Kunsthistorisches Museum.
*'Gypsy Madonna'. Wood, 66 x 84.
Called the 'Gypsy Madonna' because of her swarthy complexion, dark hair and eyes; the nickname dates back only to the gallery catalogue of 1881. A very early work (about 1510-11), once ascribed to Giorgione and close in composition to late Madonnas of Giovanni Bellini, such as the Detroit Madonna of 1509 and the Brera Madonna of 1510. The evening landscape repeats almost exactly the section of landscape on the left of the Dresden Sleeping Venus, which Titian is thought to have completed after Giorgione's death in 1510. The 'Gypsy Madonna' was part of the superb collection of Venetian pictures acquired by the Duke of Hamilton through his brother-in-law Basil Feilding, Charles I's ambassador to Venice. After Hamilton, a Royalist commander in the Civil War, was executed in 1649, most of his paintings were purchased by Archduke Leopold Wilhelm, Hapsburg Governor of the Netherlands, and eventually passed into the Kunsthistorisches Museum.
*'Madonna of the Cherries. Canvas (transferred from panel), 81 x 99.
The Child, standing unsteadily on the stone parapet, offers cherries and raspberries to the Virgin. The red fruit could symbolise the blood of Christ's Passion or the fruits of Heaven. The turbaned St Zacharias, in the right background, has his arm around his son, the infant Baptist, who clutches his scroll and gazes up at the Christ Child. St Joseph, in the left background, holds his staff. An early work (1512-18). The influence of Giovanni Bellini's half-length sacre conversazioni seems obvious, but there are also similarities (particularly in the figure of St John) with Dürer's 'Madonna of the Siskin', which was painted in Venice in 1506 and is now in Berlin. The picture, originally a canvas painting glued onto a wooden panel, was radically restored twice in the nineteenth century. The canvas was separated from the panel in the 1820s, and then, in 1853, the paint layer was transferred to a new canvas support. Only very sketchy underdrawing was revealed, with changes in the composition – suggesting that Titian worked out the design directly on the painting without the aid of a cartoon. The picture appears to have been executed in two distinct stages – with the two fathers, St Zacharias behind the Baptist and St Joseph behind the Christ Child, added after the main figures. In spite of the transfer to a new canvas, the colour remains rich and luminous. Like most Venetian pictures in the museum, it is from the celebrated collection of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm, amassed at Brussels when he was Governor of the Habsburg Netherlands (1647-56).
*'The Physician Parma'. Canvas, 88 x 75.
A middle-aged man, solidly built with frizzy greying hair, is shown half-length, wearing a black robe over a crimson jacket and grasping a grey stole draped over his left shoulder. The identification of the sitter as the 'Physician Parma', namely Gian Giacomo Bartolotti da Parma, rests on the assumption that this is the picture described by Ridolfi (1648) in the collection of Bartolomeo della Nave, many of whose pictures passed into the collection of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm. Bartolotti (who was born around 1465-70) served as physician to the Venetian fleet and was prior of the Venetian College of Physicians (Collegio dei Medici Fisici). He was also a prolific author, who wrote medical texts and an extremely lewd comic poem (Macharonea Medicinalis) about the adventures of a quack doctor. The attribution was sometimes doubted in the past (the handling is unusually light and delicate for Titian) but is now generally accepted. Usually dated between 1515 and 1520. Giorgione's Terris Portrait in San Diego may represent the same sitter at a younger age.
*'The Bravo'. Canvas, 75 x 67.
Possibly the 'two half-figures attacking each other by Titian' seen by Michiel in 1528 in the house of the Venetian patrician Zuanantonio Venier. Ridolfi identified the subject as the attack by the military tribune Claudius Luscius, nephew of the tyrant Caius Marius, upon Coelius Plotius. Recently, it has been suggested that an episode is illustrated from Euripides's Bacchae, in which King Pentheus of Thebes arrested Bacchus to prevent the spread of the wine god's cult. However, since the seventeenth century the picture has been generally known simply as 'The Bravo', meaning literally a hired cut-throat. Ridolfi's attribution to Giorgione was first questioned by Crowe and Cavalcaselle, who saw 'the hand of the painter whose style leads up to that of Cariani'. There were subsequent attributions to Palma Vecchio and Dosso Dossi; but the attribution to Titian, which was proposed by von Engerth in 1882, is now fairly general. Usually dated about 1515-20. Like several other Titians in the museum, The Bravo was in the Duke of Hamilton's collection, which was dispersed during the Civil War. By 1659, it was in Archduke Leopold Wilhelm's collection.
Madonna and Child with Saints. Wood, 93 x 138.
A half-length sacra conversazione, with the Madonna seated on the left and St Stephen (holding a martyr's palm), St Jerome (reading) and St Maurice (in armour) standing on the right. One of two autograph versions: the other is in the Louvre. Both pictures were probably painted in the early 1520s. The Louvre picture has usually been considered the finer. But recent X-ray analysis, revealing extensive pentimenti in the Vienna version and none in the Louvre one, suggests that it is the Vienna picture that is the earlier of the two. In Archduke Leopold Wilhelm's collection, where it was engraved as a work of Titian in David Teniers' Theatrum Pictorium.
Girl in a Fur Coat. Canvas, 95 x 63.
Generally dated about 1535-38; the same young woman seems to be depicted in La Bella in the Pitti Palace, the Girl with the Plumed Hat in the Hermitage and the Venus of Urbino in the Uffizi. X-rays reveal that the picture was started as a replica of La Bella in both pose and costume, but was later modified to show the woman in her present erotic near-nudity. Once owned by the sculptor Pompeo Leoni. Acquired by Charles I in Spain from the Count of Villamediana, and sold to a Mr Murray in 1650 for £100. Recorded in Austria from 1730. The picture inspired Ruben's full-length Het Pelsken (also in Vienna).
*Portrait of Isabella d'Este. Canvas, 102 x 64.
Isabella d'Este (1474-1539) is famous as a patron of artists and writers and a collector of art and antiquities. She became Marchioness of Mantua when she married Francesco II Gonzaga in 1490, and ruled Mantua as a regent after Francesco's death in 1519. She is shown wearing a turban-like headdress (balzo) of the style she made fashionable, and has an ermine stole (zibellino) over her shoulder. The portrait has been cut down on both sides, and was originally some 20 cm. wider. It was described as the Queen of Cyprus in the 1659 inventory of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm's collection, but identified in the nineteenth century (by Cavacaselle) as the portrait of Isabella d'Este commissioned in a letter of 6 March 1534. Titian was asked by the sixty-two year old Isabella to copy a portrait painted by Francesco Francia many years earlier in 1511-12, when she was thirty-seven. Francia's portrait was itself not painted from life but taken from another artist's even earlier cartoon. Titian delivered his portrait in 1536. Isabella praised it as 'so pleasing that I doubt that at the age which I am represented I could have possessed all the beauty it contains'. There is also in the Kunsthistorisches Museum a copy of a lost Titian portrait of Isabella ('Isabella in Red'), painted in about 1530.
*Ecce Homo. Canvas, 242 x 361.
Signed and dated 1543 on the scroll on the steps. Painted for the Flemish merchant Giovanni d'Anna (Jan van Haanen), whose palazzo (frescoed by Pordenone) was on the Grand Canal. The picture is packed with portraits. According to Ridolfi (1648), Pontius Pilate, dressed in shimmering blue satin, is a likeness of Pietro Aretino. The two horsemen on the right are portraits of Alfonso d'Avalos (mistakenly called Charles V by Ridolfi) and Suleyman the Magnificent. The imposing fat man, opulently dressed in a red robe and ermine collar, probably represents the High Priest Caiaphas in the guise of a wealthy contemporary Jew (though he is sometimes said to be a portrait of the reigning Doge, Pietro Lando). The thin bearded man, dressed in black and leaning on a staff, was once thought to be Titian himself or the donor Giovanni d'Anna, but has been identified more recently as the Sienese preacher and religious reformer Bernardino Ochino. The blonde girl dressed in white and the child whom she draws towards her are often said (on little evidence) to be portraits of Titian's adolescent daughter Lavinia and Aretino's daughter Adria. After Henry II of France had tried unsuccessfully to buy the picture for 800 ducats in 1574, it was purchased from the d'Anna family in 1620 by the English envoy Sir Henry Wootton for George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham. After Thomas, Earl of Arundel, had failed to acquire it with an extraordinary offer of £7,000, it was sold (for a much smaller sum) in 1648 to Canon Hellewerve of Antwerp and then acquired by Archduke Leopold Wilhelm for his brother Emperor Ferdinand III at Prague.
John Frederick of Saxony. Canvas, 104 x 83.
Vasari records that Titian painted a portrait of the Elector of Saxony, leader of the Protestant forces beaten at Mühlberg, when he was a prisoner. The portrait could have been painted on Titian's first visit to Augsburg in 1548 or on his second visit in 1550-51. It was probably one of two portraits of John Frederick by Titian in the possession of Queen Marie of Hungary when she left Brussels for Spain in 1556. It was given by Philip IV to the Marqués de Leganés, and was bought from his estate by Archduke Leopold Wilhelm. Opinion has been divided over the portrait, which has been praised by some critics and dismissed as a copy by others. There is a version (copy or damaged original) in the Prado of Titian's other portrait of John Frederick, showing him 'when he was captured, armed and wounded in the face'.
*Nymph and Shepherd. Canvas, 150 x 187.
The shepherd, crowned with flowers, pipes to a nude nymph who lies on a leopard skin; in the background a deer or goat tears at a broken tree. The picture has been variously titled Venus and Adonis (Duke of Hamiliton's inventory of 1649), Endymion and Diana, Venus and Anchises, Oenone and Paris and Dionysus and Ariadne. It is by no means certain, however, that a specific subject from mythology or literature is intended, and the picture may be simply a 'landscape of mood'. This freely brushed and deeply poetical picture is clearly a very late work, dating possibly from the early 1570s. It was acquired by Archduke Leopold Wilhelm after the dispersal of the Duke of Hamilton's collection, and was exhibited at the Vienna Stallburg by the early eighteenth century. It was sent to Florence In 1792 in an exchange of pictures with the Uffizi, but was rejected by the Florentine gallery and returned to Vienna. It spent much of the next hundred years in storage. After restoration by the Bavarian painter Carl Schellein, it returned to view in 1891 with the opening of the new Kunsthistorisches Museum, and was recognised as an example of Titian's 'masterly late technique' (Claude Phillips) and 'brilliant improvisation' (Gronau). At that time, it was generally assumed to be at least partly unfinished. Gustav Glück (in the 1923 museum catalogue) was among the first to suggest it was a finished work. A long and difficult restoration, begun in 2002 and completed in 2007, removed old retouchings and layers of dirty varnish.
Portrait of Benedetto Varchi. Canvas, 117 x 91.
He is a man in his thirties, with short hair and full beard, dressed in a black gown lined with brown fur. Shown three-quarter length, he looks to his left, resting his elbow on the base of a column and holding a small book (perhaps a volume of Petrarch's sonnets) in his other hand. Signed on the column. The identification of the sitter is based on a resemblance to a profile portrait on a medal by Domenico Poggini. Benedetto Varchi (1503-65) was a Florentine historian, poet and humanist, who lived in Venice and Padua from 1536 to 1543 as tutor to Filippo Strozzi's children. The portrait is usually dated around 1540. It was among the paintings acquired in Venice by the English ambassador, Basil Feilding, on behalf of his brother-in-law the Duke of Hamilton. Recorded in 1659 in Archduke Leopold Wilhelm's collection at Vienna.
Fabrizio Salvaresio. Canvas, 112 x 88.
The rotund man is richly dressed in a fur-lined coat. He poses with a self-confident air, his hand gripping the silk sash around his ample waist. The table clock on the plinth in the right background is probably introduced as a status symbol. (Similar clocks appear in a number of Titian's portraits.) The picture has been considerably cut down at the bottom and on the right, partly removing the black servant boy with a bunch of flowers. The name and age (50) of the sitter are given in the inscription on the tablet on the wall, together with Titian's name and the date 1558. Salvaresio was a Venetian merchant who made a fortune out of importing Turkish wheat, and also traded in velvet, silk and slaves. From Archduke Leopold Wilhelm's collection.
*Portrait of Jacopo Strada. Canvas, 125 x 95.
Jacopo Strada (about 1515-88), a Mantuan aristocrat, was an antiquarian, who published books on the Roman Emperors and antique coins and worked as a dealer for the Popes and Hapsburg Emperors. He was nominated Antiquarius Caesareus (imperial antiquarian) by Maximilian II. He is splendidly dressed in a black velvet tunic with rosy satin sleeves. The heavy gold chain, which encircles his neck four times, was probably a gift from Emperor Maximilian. He holds up an antique statue of Venus, perhaps to tempt a potential buyer. On the table are gold and silver coins, a folded letter, a marble fragment of a torso and (just visible on the left) a small statue of Diana. The picture is probably one of Titian's last portraits. It was almost certainly painted in 1567-68 when Strada, whom Titian seems to have disliked intensely, visited Venice to negotiate the purchase of Gabriele Vendramin's antiques for Albrecht V, Duke of Bavaria. In return for the portrait, Strada promised Titian a fur and help in selling to the Emperor Maximilian workshop copies of mythological pictures painted for Philip II. From Archduke Leopold Wilhelm's collection. Restoration in 1996 removed layers of discoloured varnish.
During his visit to Venice, Jacopo Strada also ordered a portrait of his son and heir, Ottavio, from Tintoretto. Ottavio's portrait (now at Amsterdam) is similar in size, and it seems likely that the two portraits were planned to be hung together.
Danaë. Canvas, 135 x 152.
A later, signed variant of the picture in Naples. Titian seems to have replicated the figure of Danaë by means of a cartoon or drawings. An old maidservant, catching the golden rain in a metal dish, replaces the Cupid standing at the end of the bed. In other versions in the Prado and Hermitage, the maidservant catches the golden shower in her apron. The picture was a gift sent in 1600 from Cardinal Montalto at Rome to the Emperor Rudolph II in Prague. The intervention of assistants has been seen (eg. in the figure of the old servant).
Diana and Callisto. Canvas, 183 x 200.
A variant, from Titian's workshop, of the picture now shared by the National Galleries at Edinburgh and London. Underdrawing revealed when the picture was relined in 1910 is careful and mechanical, suggesting that the assistant (Girolamo Dente?) made an exact replica of the whole composition (probably by tracing), before Titian himself made adjustments here and there in the final paint layers. Probably one of a set of seven replica 'favole' ('fables') offered by Titian (through Jacopo Strada) in 1568 to both Emperor Maximilian and Albrecht V, Duke of Bavaria.
Francesco Filetto; His Son. Canvas, 83 x 62 and 89 x 67.
These are believed to be two damaged and repainted fragments of the portrait of the famous orator Francesco Filetto and his son seen by Vasari in the house of Matteo Giustiniani. Filetto's book and staff (transforming him into a St James) and the arrows (the attributes of St Sebastian) held by his son are later additions. From the collection of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm.
*'Violante'. Wood, 64 x 51.
Called 'La Bella Gatta' ('Pretty Cat') in old inventories, the picture owes its current title to the little flower tucked into the neck of the blouse. It is uncertain whether it is a portrait of a real young woman (girl-friend or mistress of a wealthy Venetian?) or an idealised 'bella donna' picture of the type particularly associated with Palma Vecchio. Described as a work of Palma in the 1659 inventory of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm's collection, an attribution that passed unquestioned until the twentieth century. The re-attribution to Titian was made in 1927 by Roberto Longhi. It has won considerable but not total support, a segment of opinion still favouring the old attribution to Palma. The young woman bears a striking likeness to the St Dorothy in Titian's Madonna and Saints in the Prado and the St Catherine in Titian's Balbi Madonna now in the Fondazione Magnani at Mamiano (near Palma). Her costume and hairstyle were fashionable around 1515. Comparison with the engraving in Tenier's Theatrum Pictorium suggests that the panel has been cut down on the right and at the bottom.
Lucretia. Wood, 63 x 51.
The faint form of a man, barely visible in the dark background, must be either that of the rapist Tarquin or Lucretia's husband Collatinus. Like the Violante, this panel is attributed either to Titian, as an early work of about 1515, or to Palma Vecchio. The Titian attribution goes back to the seventeenth century, when the painting was in the collections of Charles I of England and of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm. The attribution to Palma Vecchio is more recent, having been first made apparently in 1860 by Erasmus von Engerth. It won general support for a time, before Roberto Longhi revived the old attribution to Titian in 1927.
Christ and the Adulteress. Canvas, 83 x 137.
This horizontal composition of half-length figures shows the adulteress, head bowed in shame, brought before Christ by the scribes and pharisees (John 8: 3-11). The picture is mentioned by Ridolfi (1648) in the Venetian collection of Bartolomeo della Nave and was engraved as a work of Titian in David Teniers' Theatrum Pictorum (1660). It has been dated as early as 1512-15. It was clearly left unfinished and may have been subsequently reworked on more than one occasion. It has been omitted from most catalogues of Titian's works.
Mars, Venus and Cupid. Canvas, 97 x 109.
The adultery of Venus and Mars, told widely through classical literature, is the subject of many Renaissance paintings. This particularly erotic example may have been produced in Titian's workshop in the 1550s or 1560s. Venus's pose is clearly adapted from that of Danaë, while that of Mars appears in a vigorous charcoal and black chalk drawing by Titian of a couple embracing (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge). Probably the picture of this subject recorded in the 1655 inventory of the Arundel collection, where it was paired with a Venus and Adonis. The two pictures had entered the Habsburg collection by 1783. The Venus and Adonis was destroyed in 1945. Previously little known, the Mars, Venus and Cupid was included in exhibitions of works from the Vienna museum held recently at Bilbao (2008-9) and San Francisco (2011-12). There is a damaged variant at Petworth House in Sussex.
Christ with an Orb ('Salvator Mundi'). Canvas, 83 x 61.
Images of Christ as Salvator Mundi ('Saviour of the World') normally show him with his right hand raised in blessing and his left hand holding an orb, but here Christ's right hand rests on a transparent globe. The picture, first recorded in the Imperial collection in 1783, is of unknown provenance. It was included as a work of Titian in some of the older literature (eg. the monographs by Fischel (1904-24) and Suida (1935), and Berenson's 1936 and 1957 Lists). It fell from favour, however, and largely disappeared from view. For many years, it was consigned to storage. It was recently 'rediscovered' by Paul Joannides (March 2019 Colnaghi Studies), who judges it a 'fully autograph' work dating from the 1530s. The picture (which is in need of restoration) was spotlighted in a special exhibition held at the museum in February-October 2022, when it was dated to the 1520s. A similar painting (on panel and badly damaged) was formerly in the renowned collection of the Earl of Darnley at Cobham Hall and is now in a British private collection. This version is also considered autograph by Joannides.
Vienna. Akademie der Bildenden Künste.
Tarquin and Lucretia. Canvas, 114 x 100.
Sometimes regarded as a very late, broadly painted, half-length variant by Titian himself of the picture in Cambridge, but possibly a copy by an assistant or follower (Girolamo Dente?). Nothing is known of its history before 1907, when it was auctioned in Vienna with the Schroff collection as 'Othello by Veronese'.
Washington. National Gallery of Art.
*Venus with a Mirror. Canvas, 125 x 106.
The only one of many versions generally accepted to be by Titian himself. Usually dated about 1555. X-rays show that Titian reused a canvas on which he had begun to paint a double portrait. (Interestingly, Titian left the man's red cloak exposed to form the velvet drapery covering Venus's lap.) Venus's pose is related to that of the famous Roman Venus Pudica, owned by the Medici and now in the Uffizi. The pose of Cupid, holding a mirror, seems to have been copied (in reverse) from Correggio's School of Love (National Gallery, London). The picture remained in Titian's studio at his death, and passed from his son Pomponio to the Barbarigo family in 1581. It was acquired for the Hermitage at St Petersburg in 1850 and bought by Mellon in 1931-32. There is a copy, attributed to Orazio Vecellio, still at the Hermitage. At least two versions of the Venus with a Mirror are now lost. One, painted for the Venetian lawyer Niccolò Crasso, is recorded by a pen-and-ink drawing in Van Dyck's Italian Sketchbook (British Museum). Another, painted for Philip II of Spain, was copied by Rubens, whose version is now in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum at Madrid.
*Portrait of Ranuccio Farnese. Canvas, 90 x 74.
Ranuccio was the son of Pier Luigi Farnese and the grandson of Pope Paul III. It is known from a letter that Titian painted his portrait in Venice in 1542, when he was twelve years old. He is dressed, in a black cloak with a silver cross, as a Knight of Malta, because he was in Venice to be made prior of the Knights' San Giovanni dei Forlani. The picture is first certainly recorded in 1680 in the Farnese collection at Parma. It was bought from a private Neapolitan collection by Sir George Donaldson in about 1885 and entered the Cook collection at Richmond. The attribution was often doubted until the painting was cleaned in the late 1940s, following its acquisition by Kress from Contini Bonacossi. It has hung in the National Gallery of Art since 1951.
*Portrait of Doge Andrea Gritti. Canvas, 133 x 103.
The sitter is identified by the inscription, upper left. Signed, centre right (the letters 'EF' allude to the knighthood Titian had conferred on him by Charles V in 1533). Doge Gritti died in 1538, but the portrait, with its vigorous and rapid brushwork, is probably some years later. Titian also painted two earlier 'official' portraits of Gritti for the Doge's Palace, both of which were destroyed by fire. Probably the picture of 'Duke Grettie' in Charles I's collection which was sold to a Mr Jackson in 1652 for £40. From 1820 to 1936 the portrait was in the possession of the Czernin von Chudenitz family at Vienna. Acquired by Kress in 1954. The canvas has never been relined and the impasto is unusually well preserved.
*Portrait of Pietro Bembo. Canvas, 94 x 77.
Pietro Bembo (1470-1547), the great humanist, is best known for his poem Gli Asolani (1505), which extols the court of Caterina Cornaro at Asolo. He was created a cardinal by Paul III in March 1539, and is shown in his red robe and hat. The portrait may be the one Bembo asked Girolamo Querini to thank Titian for in a letter dated March 1540. In 1636 the portrait passed to Cardinal Antonio Barberini, and it remained in the Barberini collection in Rome until at least 1890. It was acquired by Charles M. Schwab of New York in 1906 and by Kress in 1942. Another portrait of Bembo, at Naples, is possibly a ruined original by Titian.
*St John the Evangelist on Patmos. Canvas, 238 x 264.
St John the Evangelist is said to have written the Book of Revelation on the Greek island of Patmos. He is shown, a muscular Michelangelesque old man, with his symbols of an eagle and a book experiencing a vision of God the Father in glory. The painting was the centrepiece of the ceiling decoration of the new Sala dell'Albergo (Council Room) of the Scuola di San Giovanni Evangelista in Venice. The room was built in 1540-45, and the ceiling was probably decorated after Titian's return from Rome in mid-1546. Nineteen other canvases from the ceiling are still in Venice (Accademia). The St John on Patmos, which was described as 'very badly ruined', passed in exchange to a Turin dealer named Barbini in 1818, and was believed lost for many years. It was rediscovered by Wilhelm Suida, then Director of the Kress Foundation, who acquired it for the Foundation in 1954 from the dealer Contini Bonacossi. It is usually attributed to Titian himself, while the smaller canvases in Venice are mainly by his workshop.
Venus and Adonis. Canvas, 107 x 136.
A smaller, oblong version in Titian's late style of the painting in the Prado. There is a similar version in the Metropolitan Museum, New York. Opinion has been divided over the chronology and quality of the two versions, but there is general agreement that both are late works (probably 1560s) and show at least a degree of workshop assistance. The Washington version is probably the one mentioned by Boschini (1660) in the Barbarigo-Giustiniani collection in Padua, and may have been among the pictures left in Titian's studio at his death. By 1679 it was owned by Anne Russell Digby, Countess of Bristol. It was inherited by the Spencers, and remained at Althorp until 1925, when it was sold to Agnew's. Bequeathed by Widener to the National Gallery in 1942. The surface is worn, and the blues and greens have darkened.
Portrait of a Venetian Gentleman ('Goldman Portrait'). Canvas, 76 x 64.
The long-haired young man throws a brooding sideways glance at the viewer. He holds a handkerchief in his clenched right hand, which rests on a book on a parapet. (Earlier versions, subsequently overpainted, showed him holding a dagger and then a scroll.) There is a view of the Doge's Palace through the window on the left. The letters 'VVO' on the parapet were revealed by cleaning in 1962. There are no early references to the portrait, which was sold with the vast and uneven collection of Henry Doetsch in London in 1895 as a work of Bernardino Licinio. In 1897 Berenson (in an article in the Gazette des Beaux Arts of Paris) included it among several paintings that he considered copies of lost originals by Giorgione. However, when the painting came into Duveen's hands, Berenson re-attributed it to Titian and it was sold to Henry Goldman as such in 1920. Acquired by Kress in 1937. It has often been accepted as one of Titian's earliest surviving portraits, with a dating of around 1507-10. Doubters have included Wethey (1971), who thought 'only a minor painter could be responsible for this picture, so thoroughly unpleasant both in form and content', and Joannides (2001), who found an attribution to Giovanni Cariani with a dating of around 1515 more plausible. The Cariani attribution is now preferred by the gallery itself. The portrait was, however, exhibited as 'attributed to Titian' at the Royal Academy in 2016 (the Age of Giorgione).
Portrait of Andrea de' Franceschi. Canvas, 65 x 51.
Andrea de' Franceschi, whom Ridolfi describes as 'most beloved of the painter', was elected Grand Chancellor of Venice in 1529, and he is shown wearing the red robe and black stole of his office. The portrait appears to have been cut down. Another version, in Detroit, is considerably larger and shows the sitter half-length. The Washington version was long considered Titian's original, painted from life, but it is now sometimes ascribed to his studio or following. (The present gallery label is 'attributed to Titian'.) Formerly owned by the Earl of Wemyss, it was sold in 1927 and entered the Washington gallery in 1937 with the Mellon bequest. A curious triple portrait at Hampton Court, dubbed 'Titian and HIs Friends', combines a replica of Titian's Portrait of Andrea de' Franceschi with replicas of Titian's Self-Portrait at Berlin and Titian's Portrait of a Special Friend at San Francisco. This picture, now attributed to Titian's workshop, was the subject of Alan Bennett's 1988 stage play A Question of Attribution.
Portrait of Vincenzo Cappello. Canvas, 141 x 118.
Vincenzo Cappello, who commanded the Venetian fleet at the Battle of Preveza, is portrayed as an admiral. He holds his ceremonial baton and wears a crimson cloak over burnished armour. Titian is known (from a letter and sonnet sent by Pietro Aretino) to have portrayed Cappello in 1540. However, the Washington portrait is unsigned and some critics (including Bernard Berenson and Federico Zeri) have attributed it to Tintoretto. Previously in the Scottish collections of the Duke of Hamilton and the Earl of Rosebery, it was acquired by Kress in 1954.
Woman with an Apple. Canvas, 98 x 74.
The picture was exhibited in 1829 as 'Titian's Daughter', in 1883 as 'Caterina Cornaro, Queen of Cyprus', and in 1940 as 'Giulia Gonzaga-Colonna, Duchess of Traghetti'. None of these identifications is remotely plausible. The picture is probably not a portrait – as such it would have seemed improper – but rather a 'bella donna' painting, showing a woman simply for the sake of her voluptuous beauty. The apple she cradles in her hands may symbolise love and sexuality. Critical opinion has been divided over the picture, which has sometimes been accepted as an autograph Titian of the 1550s and sometimes regarded as the work of an assistant or imitator. Formerly in the collection of Wilbraham family at Delamere House, Cheshire. Sold to Duveen in 1929, from whom it was bought by Kress in 1938.
Cupid with a Wheel. Canvas, 66 x 55.
The wheel, which Cupid is trying to stop rolling, could represent Life, Time or Fortune. An animal skull hangs on the tree trunk. Rapidly painted in monochrome. Possibly originally a portrait cover (timpano). The picture has been identified with one on the London art market at the beginning of the nineteenth century. It was said to have come from the Altieri Palace in Rome and was sold with attributions to Parmigianino and to Polidoro. Published as a work of Titian in 1931 (by Wilhelm Suida in Dedalo). The attribution, as a fairly early work of around 1515-20, has usually been accepted, though no other comparable monochrome paintings by Titian are known. Alternative (unpublished) attributions have been proposed to Girolamo Romanino and to Giulio Campi. Acquired by Kress in 1935 from Contini Bonacossi.
Irene di Spilimbergo; Emilia di Spilimbergo. Canvas, each 122 x 107.
The palm branch behind Irene and the Latin inscription ('if the fates allowed') on the base of the column indicate that her portrait is posthumous. The storm-tossed ship in the background of Emilia's portrait may also allude to Irene's early death. Irene and her older sister Emilia were from a patrician Friulian family, who lived in a castle not very far from Titian's home town of Pieve di Cadore. After the death of their father, Adriano di Spilimbergo, they were sent to live in Venice with their grandfather Paolo da Ponte, who was a great friend of Titian according to Vasari. Irene, a gifted poet and musician, studied painting with Titian and is said to have shown great promise. She was just twenty when she died in December 1559. Vasari and Dolce say that Titian painted her portrait, while Irene's grandfather (in a diary entry shortly after her death) says he paid Titian six Venetian ducats to finish a portrait of her that had been 'sketched in rather badly' by a painter called Gian Paolo Pace. The portraits at Washington previously belonged to the Count of Maniago, who was a descendant of the Spilimbergo family. They were acquired in 1909 by the American transport magnate Peter Widener and gifted to the gallery in 1942. Somewhat damaged and restored. With their distinguished pedigree, the portraits were once regarded as authentic works of Titian. However, while the compositions are typical of Titian, the execution is rather weak, and the gallery now attributes both portraits to 'a follower'.