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Titian (Tiziano Vecellio)

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

Born to an important family from Cadore, Titan arrived in Venice around 1500-1502. There, after first working in Giovanni Bellini’s workshop, he entered that of his older brother Gentile Bellini. Around 1507, he began working with Giorgone on the decoration of the façades of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi, the German merchants’ warehouse in Venice. Today, only a small part of the original frescoes remains. In 1511, following the death of his colleague the year before, he worked at the School of San Antonio de Padua, painting frescoes that depicted certain miracles attributed to that saint. In 1513, he rejected Pietro Bembo’s invitation to settle in Rome, preferring to work for the Venetian government. In fact, following the death of Giovanni Bellini in 1516, Titian received all major public commissions in Venice. That year, he painted The Tribute Money (Dresden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister) for Alfonso I d’Este, Duke of Ferrara, and years later, this nobleman would commission Titian to make several works for the studio at his residence in Ferrara—notably Bacchus and Ariadne London, The National Gallery), The Bacchanal of the Andrians and Offering to Venus (both at the Museo del Prado). In 1518 he completed The Assumption of the Virgin for the main altar at the Venetian church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frare and began the Pesaro Madonna to decorate the alter at that family’s chapel in the same church. Both works, along with The Martyrdom of Saint Peter, painted in 1526 for an altarpiece at the church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo and known only through copies, constitute his essential contribution to the renovation of the altar-painting genre. Soon thereafter, he began working for Federico II Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua, who in turn introduced him to Emperor Charles V. Titian probably painted the emperor’s portrait around 1530, on the occasion of his coronation in Bologna, and he painted another, three years later. This marked the beginning of a relation that linked him to the Habsburg family for over forty years, as his paintings perfectly responded to the political, courtly, devotional or artistic needs of certain members of that family, and of some of their closest courtiers. In 1533 he was received the title of Palatine Count and Knight of the Golden Spur from Charles V, but he repeatedly rejected invitations to settle at the Spanish court. He painted several portraits of the emperor and of his son, Philip II, creating the prototype of official portraits that later became widespread.
Titian also made other kinds of works for Philip II, including religious paintings such as The Trinity in Glory and The Burial of Christ (Museo del Prado), and different versions of the Ecce Homo and Mater Dolorosa, as well as mythological works such as The Danaë and Venus and Adonis (Museo del Prado). And for the king’s aunt, Marie of Hungary, he made The Furies.
At the same time, Titian continued to receive commissions from Italian patrons such as Duke Guidobaldo II della Rovere, for whom he painted the Venus of Urbino (Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi), and Spaniards, including Alfonso de Ávalos, Marquis of El Vasto, whose portrait is now at the Museo del Prado.
Titian was sponsored by popes, including Paul III (Naples, Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte) and by religious institutions such as the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, for which he painted The Crown of Thorns (Paris, Musée du Louvre). After a long life, he died on August 27, 1576 during an outbreak of the plague in Venice (Riello, J. in: Del Greco a Goya. Obras maestras del Museo del Prado, Museo de Arte de Ponce, 2012, pp. 92-93).

His self portrait at the Museo del Prado is numbered P00407.

Artworks (43)

The Adoration of the Magi
Oil on canvas, XVI century
Tiziano, Vecellio di Gregorio
The Virgin in Contemplation
Oil on canvas, XVI century
Tiziano, Vecellio di Gregorio (Escuela de)
The Virgin and Child between Saints Anthony of Padua and Roch
Oil on canvas, Ca. 1510
Tiziano, Vecellio di Gregorio
The Virgin and Child with Saints Dorothy and George
Oil on panel, 1515 - 1518
Tiziano, Vecellio di Gregorio
The Worship of Venus
Oil on canvas, 1518
Tiziano, Vecellio di Gregorio
The Andrians
Oil on canvas, 1523 - 1526
Tiziano, Vecellio di Gregorio
Federico Gonzaga, Ist Duke of Mantua
Oil on panel, 1529
Tiziano, Vecellio di Gregorio
Emperor Charles V with a Dog
Oil on canvas, 1533
Tiziano, Vecellio di Gregorio
The Allocution of Marquis del Vasto to his Troops
Oil on canvas, 1540 - 1541
Tiziano, Vecellio di Gregorio


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