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Titian (Tiziano Vecellio)
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Titian (Tiziano Vecellio)

Pieve di Cadore, Belluno, Veneto (Italy), 1490 - Venice (Italy), 1576

Titian (Tiziano Vecellio) See author's file


Ca. 1562. Oil on canvas.
Room 041

Titian painted his first self-portrait before leaving for Rome in 1545. However, it was after his Roman stay that he showed the most interest in disseminating his image in order to fully establish his position in a context of intense rivalry with Michelangelo. In 1549 Paolo Giovio acquired a self-portrait by the artist for his Museo in Como, while in 1550 the painter had another one sent to Charles V that closely corresponds to the print of the artist produced that year by Giovanni Britto. In 1552 Philip II received another self-portrait that was lost in the fire at El Pardo in 1604, while in 1569 a circular one was recorded in Gabriele Vendramin’s inventory. Only two self-portraits by Titian have survied. The earlier one (Berlin, Gemäldegalerie), which the present author has suggested could be a ricordo, is datable to around 1546-7, while the present work in the Prado can be identified with the portrait that Vasari saw in 1566 in the painter’s studio as it corresponds to Titian’s age at that time, which was between seventy-three and seventy-five in 1562. While in the mid-16th century the profile portrait was an unusual format (Titian only used it for deceased sitters: François I and Sixtus VI), the self-portrait in profile was exceptional, partly for the difficulty involved in its execution as it required various mirrors or a model. With regard to the latter, in Studi Tizianeschi I, 2003, Rearick published a drawing of a portrait by Titian attributed to Giuseppe Porta dated around 1562 whose similarity to the Prado image suggests it may have provided the model. The choice of this format was thus not a random one and responded to the association of this typology with the concept of fame derived from Roman coins. Titian was familiar with this association as he had been depicted in this manner by Leone Leoni in 1537 and by Pastorino de Pastorini around 1546. It seems likely that the artist, who was by this date extremely old, would wish to set down his appearance for posterity in this manner, ignoring the individual viewer for the sake of a universal one. This idea is not incompatible with the fact that the painting could have been made for his own family, as the fact that Titian still owned it four years later suggests.

As in the Berlin self-portrait, here Titian also emphasises his nobility through the inclusion of the golden chain that identifies him as a Knight of the Golden Spur, and his black clothing (the colour recommended for knights by Baldassare Castiglione in The Courtier, book II, 27, of 1527), but the fact that he is holding a brush suggests that he also wished to indicate that he owed his social elevation to his skills as a painter. As such, the present painting gives visual form to the motto that appears on Leoni’s medal: PICTOR ET EQUES, a concept also expressed by Vasari in relation to his visit to the painter in 1566. Titian’s image of himself projected in his self-portraits was carefully considered.

As Jaffé noted, by representing himself with a long beard, no fringe and wearing a cap, the artist was associating himself with images of contemporary intellectuals derived from an iconographical model of Aristotle that was notably popular in Italy from the end of the 15th century. As Leoni’s medal proves, Titian had used this type of presentation from at least 1537, probably as a consequence of his proximity to intellectual circles from the preceding decade onwards (Text drawn from Falomir, M.: El retrato del Renacimiento, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2008, p. 492).


Technical data

Related artworks

Phototype on card, After 1905
Hauser y Menet
Inventory number
Titian (Tiziano Vecellio)
Ca. 1562
Height: 86 cm; Width: 65 cm
Royal Collection (Royal Alcázar, Madrid, "pasillo de la mudita", 1701-1703, s.n.; New Royal Palace, Madrid, "primera sala de la Furriera", 1747, no. 44; New Royal Palace, Madrid, "antecámara de su majestad", 1772, no. 42?; New Royal Palace, Madrid, "pieza de comer", 1794, no. 42?).

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Other inventories +

Inv. Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1772. Núm. ¿42?.
Antecamara de S. M. [...] {12667} 42-45-85-39-46-118-39-39 / Ocho retratos iguales de mas de medio cuerpo originales de Ticiano que el vno es el mismo otra el de su muger y los demas de otros sugetos que se ignoran de vara y quarta de alto y vara de ancho = [Nota al margen=] todos estos retratos en los primeros inventarios consta haber estado en óbalo pero despues se pusieron en quadro

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1794. Núm. ¿42?.
Pieza de comer [...] {32} 85, 42, 46 y 117 / Quatro retratos de hombres y mugeres desconocidos à excepción del uno que es Ticiano , de quien son hechos todos á cinco mil rs. cada uno importa ... 20.000

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos II, Alcázar de Madrid, 1701-1703. Núm. 44.
Pasillo que llaman de la Modita [...] 44 / Ytten Ottra Pinttura de Vara y media de Altto y tres quartas de Ancho del Rettratto del mismo tiçiano y de su mano tasada en Zien Doblones .... 100

Inv. Felipe V, Palacio Nuevo, 1747. Núm. 44.
PINTURAS EXISTENTES ANTIGUAS [...] En la primera Sala de este Oficio [...] {10263} 44 / Otro retrato ovalado original del Ticiano y su retrato propio de vara y quarta de cayda y lo correspondiente de ancho = en 4000 rs.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 477.
477.-Retrato del autor. / Alto 0.86. Ancho 0.65.-Lienzo. / Está representado de edad avanzada, casi de perfil, con lasrga barba blanca y cabello corto, también cano; vestido de ropilla y balandran de color muy oscuro. Tiene al cuello una cadena de oro, como caballero y conde palatino, y en la mano un pincel.-Figura de medio cuerpo y tamaño natural. / Este retrato vino al R. Museo del Pal. nuevo, donde estaba en tiempo del Sr. Cean Bermudez. Durante los reinados de Felipe IV y Carlos II estuvo colocado en el pasillo llamado de la Madonna, en el R.Alc. y Pal. antiguo. F.L.

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 695.
Tiziano / 695. Retrato del autor. / Barba larga y cabellos canosos. Al cuello tiene una cadena de oro, y en la mano un pincel. (figura de perfil, de medio cuerpo.) / Alto 3 pies, 1 pulg; ancho 2 pies, 4 pulg.

Inscriptions +

Inscribed in red color. Front, lower left corner

B 50
Inscribed with chalk. Stretcher

M.N. PRADO / 000407
On metallic tablet. Stretcher

Scrap of paper. Stretcher

Marco corri/ente / 45ª [¿?]
Inscribed in golden colour. Stretcher

Nº 93 [¿?] / Retrato
Inscribed in golden colour. Stretcher

Exhibitions +

06.06.2020 - 25.07.2021

Meta-painting. A Journey to the Idea of Art
15.11.2016 - 19.02.2017

05.03.2013 - 16.06.2013

Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice
14.09.2009 - 05.01.2010

The Renaissance Portrait
03.06.2008 - 07.09.2008

Tiziano maduro y la sensualidad de la pintura
01.02.2008 - 04.05.2008

Tiziano maduro y la sensualidad de la pintura
17.10.2007 - 06.01.2008

Rubens. The Collector
06.03.2004 - 13.06.2004

10.06.2003 - 07.09.2003

19.02.2003 - 18.05.2003

Tiziano. V Centenario de su nacimiento
Washington DC
28.10.1990 - 27.01.1991

Tiziano. V Centenario de su nacimiento
01.06.1990 - 07.10.1990

Location +

Room 041 (On Display)

Update date: 13-07-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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