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The Allocution of Marquis del Vasto to his Troops
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

The Allocution of Marquis del Vasto to his Troops

1540 - 1541. Oil on canvas.
Room 025

Alfonso d´Avalos, first Marchese del Vasto, was born in Ischia on 25 May 1502 to a noble Neapolitan family of Castilian origins. He fought in Pavia (1525) under the orders of his uncle Fernando d´Avalos, Marchese di Pescara, inheriting his titles and estates on his uncle´s death that same year. In 1535 D´Avalos commanded the army that conquered Tunis and in 1538, he was appointed governor of Milan and commander of the Imperial Army in Italy. His disastrous rule of Milan and the defeat by the French in Ceresola in 1544 marred his prestige and discredited him with the emperor. He died in Vigevano on 31 March 1546.

Although it has been considered a portrait of D´Avalos, The Allocution is in fact a history painting recording an event that took place in 1537 recounted by Paolo Giovio in book XXXVII of his Historia sui temporis. It relates how D´Avalos ended a mutiny of troops stationed in Lombardy through his noble and military eloquence. In late 1539 D´Avalos travelled to Venice with Giovio and commissioned The Allocution from Titian, who had already painted his portrait in 1531 through the offices of Aretino (Paris, Louvre). The fact that D´Avalos, one of the most celebrated military figures of his day, should chose to commemorate such a prosaic event can be explained by political motives. The Allocution is a plea in defence of his conduct during the events of 1537, directed at the Milanese, annoyed at having had to provide the money to calm the unruly troops, and at the emperor, who had criticised his concessions to the troops in contrast to the firmness shown in a similar situation by Ferrante Gonzaga. Through this work D´Avalos emphasised his skill in having put down such an uprising in a peaceful manner and his sacrifice in having left his son, Francesco Ferrante (the boy with the helmet) as a hostage to guarantee his promises. For sixteenth-century humanists, the adlocutio also signified the loyalty of troops to their commander, making the painting a reaffirmation of D´Avalos´s position at the head of the imperial army. The propagandistic intentions of the painting were obvious when it was exhibited publicly on its arrival in Milan in the summer of 1541, coinciding with Charles V´s visit to the city. Satisfied with the result, D´Avalos awarded Titian (who had personally delivered the painting) an annual pension of 50 ducats.

In representing D´Avalos´s intentions, Titian successfully united contemporary history and the classical world. The theme of the adlocutio was a classical one, commonly found in Roman art and history and Titian represented it in a classical manner, with D´Avalos exhorting the troops from a platform or suggestus, capturing their attention with his raised right arm, as recommended in manuals on oratory. The context in which the work was produced also emphasises the importance of classical references. D´Avalos heard about the painting´s progress through Aretino, who did not hesitate to compare him with Julius Caesar and whose role as intermediary is recorded in the painting as Titian depicts him as the soldier in the cuirass immediately behind the pike-bearer in the foreground.

The design of the composition also drew on numerous Roman models, such as the reliefs on the Arch of Constantine (referred to by Aretino in his November letter) and a coin of Gordian III (about 424 AD). From the late fifteenth century, the adlocutio was a commonly represented subject in Italian art: one precedent is Giulio Romano´s Allocution of Constantine in the Vatican which Titian would have known through his contacts with Giulio in Mantua. In Venice the adlocutio was a subject in art from the mid-fourteenth century, as we can see in an equestrian adlocutio of Julius Caesar in a manuscript of De vita Caesarum by Suetonius (Fermo, Biblioteca Comunale, Cod. 81). Other elements in the painting are contemporary references, such as D´Avalos´s armour, copied from a suit of armour by Girolamo Martinengo of Brescia, from whom Aretino requested it on 15 February 1541, or the figure of the pike-bearer with his back to us, taken from one of Dürer´s prints in the Great Passion series. Both this figure and that of Aretino as well as D´Avalos himself reappear in the Ecce Homo that Titian painted for Johannes de Haana in 1543. For the figure of D´Avalos, Titian reworked his Saint Nazarus from the Averoldi Polyptych.

Falomir Faus, Miguel, Tiziano, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2003, p.186


Technical data

Inventory number
Titian (Tiziano Vecellio)
The Allocution of Marquis del Vasto to his Troops
1540 - 1541
Height: 223 cm; Width: 165 cm
Commonwealth Sale (Charles I's Collection), 1651; Royal Collection (Royal Alcázar, Madrid, "pieza de la torre en el cuarto alto", 1666; Royal Alcázar, "bóvedas que caen a la Priora-pieza inmediata de las bóvedas que cae debajo de la del despacho de verano", 1686; New Royal Palace, Madrid, "primera sala de la Furriera", 1747, no. 12, Palacio Real, pieza de comer que fue del Sr. D. Carlos IV, nº 12, 1827).

Bibliography +

Wethey, Harold E.1902-1984, The paintings of Titian, Phaidon, Londres, 1971, pp. 79-80.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 698.

Checa Cremades, Fernando, Tiziano y la monarquía hispánica: usos y funciones de la pintura veneciana en España (siglos XVI y XVII), Nerea, Madrid, 1994, pp. 152; 270-271, n. 45.

Checa Cremades, Fernando, De Tiziano a Bassano. Maestros Venecianos del Museo de Prado, Museu Nacional D'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona, 1997, pp. 54.

Valcanover, Francesco, Tiziano. I suoi pennelli sempre partorirono espressioni di Vita, Edizioni Il Fiorino, Firenze, 1999, pp. 137.

Carlos V: las armas y las letras, Sociedad Estatal para la Commemoración de los cent, Madrid, 2000.

Carolus, Sociedad Estatal para la Commemoración de los Centenarios de Felipe II y Carlos V, Madrid, 2000, pp. 436.

Museo Nacional del Prado, La Almoneda del Siglo: relaciones artísticas entre España y Gran Bretaña, 1604-1655, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2002, pp. 232.

Titian, Yale University Press, London, 2003, pp. 32/lám. 17.

Falomir Faus, Miguel, Tiziano, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2003, pp. 186.

Kusche, Maria, El retrato de representación de cuepo entero. El caballero cristiano y su dama, Cuadernos de Arte e Iconografía, 13, 2004, pp. 68.

Tiziano e il ritratto de corte da Raffaello a Carraci, Electa Napoli, Nápoles, 2006, pp. 128.

El retrato del Renacimiento, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2008, pp. 70.

Bodart,D.H., Tiziano e l´ultimo lustro, Venezia cinquecento, Jl-Dc, 2008, pp. 65-90.

Waddington, R.B, Aretino, Titian and ''las Humanitá di Cristo'', Forms of faith in sixteenth-century Italy : culture and reli..., 2009, pp. 149-170.

Luna, J. J., Guerra y pintura en las colecciones del Museo del Prado. S. XVI a Goya, Arte en tiempos de guerra Jornadas de Arte (14º.2008.Madrid), 2009.

Le botteghe di Tiziano, Alinari 24 ORE, 2009, pp. 362.

Frederick Ilchman, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: rivals in Renaissance Venice, MFA: Distributed Art Publishers, Boston, 2009, pp. 237.

Delieuvin, Vincent et Habert, Jean, Titien, Tintoret, Veronèse. Rivalités à Venise, Hazan, Musée du Louvre, 2009, pp. 237.

Haskell, Francis, The King´s pictures. The formation and dispersal of the collections of King Charles I and his Courtiers., Yale University Press, London, 2013, pp. 153 fg.152.

Rodriguez Rebollo, Angel, 'A propósito de Luca Giordano: Los Reales Sitios durante el reinado de Carlos II. Una Aproximación a través de los Inventarios. Pinturas religiosas.. Luca Giordano... por Carlos II...1686 y 1700... Inventario... pinturas salvadas.. Incendio del Alcazar...1734' En: Carlos II y el arte de su tiempo, Fundación Universitaria Española, Madrid, 2014, pp. 107-155 [115].

Martínez Leiva, Gloria; Rodríguez Rebollo, Ángel, El inventario del Alcázar de Madrid de 1666. Felipe IV y su colección artística, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid, 2015, pp. 482 nº 685.

Ekserdjian,D, 'Titian. The allocution of Alfonso d' Avalos to his troops' En:, Charles I: King and Collecto, Royal Academy of Arts,, Londres, 2018, pp. 240 n.46.

Waddington, Raymond B., Titian's Aretino: a contextual study of all the portraits, Leo S. Olschki editore,, 2018, pp. 24-32.

Other inventories +

Inv. Felipe V, Palacio Nuevo, 1747. Núm. 12.
PINTURAS EXISTENTES ANTIGUAS [...] En la primera Sala de este Oficio [de la Furriera] [...] {10231} 12 / Otra pintura original del Ticiano retrato del Marques de Pescara general haciendo platica al exercito de tres varas menos quarta de caida y dos de ancho = en veinticinco mil reales

Inv. Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1772. Núm. 12.
Antecámara del Infante don Gabriel [...] {13178} (12) - Un retrato del Marqués de Pescara armado haciendo una plática a sus soldados de dos varas y tres quartas de caida y dos varas de ancho original de Ticiano

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1910. Núm. 417.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 417.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 471.

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 821.
Tiziano. / 821. Alocución del marques del Vasto a sus soldados. / El joven que tiene el morrion es el hijo primogénito del marques, quien se hallaba a la sazon de teniente general de los egercitos del emperador Carlos 5º en Italia. / Alto 8 pies; ancho 5 pies, 11 pulg.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 821.

Inv. Felipe IV, Alcázar de Madrid, 1686. Núm. s. n..
Bóvedas que caen a la Priora [...] Pieza ynmediata de las Bobedas que cae de vajo de la del Despacho de verano [...] {762} Otra Pintura de dos varas y media de alto y dos de ancho de vn Retrato del Marques de Pescara exsortando a vn ejercito de mano del Tiçiano Marco negro.

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1794. Núm. s. n..
Quarto del Ynfte. Dn. Antº. Antecamª. / Tres varas escasas de largo y dos de ancho: retrato de Carlos quinto armado y à la derecha un joben con el morrion y otros Soldados armados: Copia de Ticiano: en ... 1500

Inscriptions +

Inscribed in orange. Front, lower left corner

Exhibitions +

Pietro Aretino and Reinassance Art
10.01.2020 - 01.03.2020

Charles I: King and Collector
27.01.2018 - 15.04.2018

Tiziano Vecellio. L'Europe du pouvoir?. Les cours d'Europe?
23.03.2006 - 04.06.2006

Retrato de Alfonso de Avalos
Los Ángeles CA
04.10.2005 - 05.02.2006

10.06.2003 - 07.09.2003

La Almoneda del Siglo. Relaciones artísticas entre España y Gran Bretaña, 1604 - 1655
15.03.2002 - 02.06.2002

Carolus - Toledo
05.10.2000 - 12.01.2001

Las armas y las letras en época de Carlos V
13.04.2000 - 25.06.2000

Pintura veneciana del siglo XVI de las colecciones del Museo del Prado
04.12.1997 - 08.02.1998

Vittoria Colonna. La musa di Michelangelo
25.02.1997 - 25.05.1997

Location +

Room 025 (On Display)


Displayed objects +




Lances / Spears

Update date: 25-04-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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