Titian (Tiziano Vecellio c. 1485–1576),
is generally regarded as the leading painter of the Venetian school.
As noted by Umberto Fortis in The Uffizi: A Guide to the Gallery
(Venice: Edizione Storti, 1980, p. 85),
“[T]he classicism of the Veneto did not find its fundamental
expressive force in the use of line to create its images, but in
the development of tonal painting, creating noble forms of a solemn
plasticity to attain, with Titian, an ideal of ample, monumental
beauty, yet anchored firmly in earthly reality.”
Born in a small village in the Dolomite
range of the Alps near Belluno, Titian removed to Venice where he worked
first with the mosaicist Sebastiano Zuccato, then in the studio of
Titian was significantly influenced by
whom he assisted in executing the external fresco decoration of the Fondaco
dei Tedeschi on the Grand Canal in Venice. Upon Giorgione's death, 1510,
Titian completed several of Giorgione's works-in-progress.
Titian's career escalated rapidly after
he received a commission, 1511, to execute three frescoes for the Scuola
del Santo in Padua. By 1513 he had begun painting a Battle for the Chamber
of the Grand Council [Maggior Consiglio] in the Doge's Palace in Venice.
Upon the death of Giovanni Bellini, 1516, Titian became official painter
to the Republic.
Some of Titian's most acclaimed works of
the ensuing ten years were theAssumption for the Church of S. Maria
Gloriosa dei Frari (1518) (in which the soaring movement of the Virgin
is said to anticipate the later Baroque period), three paintings for
Alfonso d'Este in Ferrara (the Worship of Venus, the Bacchanal, and
Bacchus and Ariadne) (1518–23), an altarpiece in Ancona (1520),
a polyptych in Brescia centered on aResurrection of Christ (1520–2),
and the altarpiece for the Pesaro family side altar in the Church
of S. Maria Gloriosa dei Frari (1519–26).
Later Titian's work became more heavily
weighted toward portraiture. Young Giorgio Cornaro was one of his
subjects in a 1538 painting. Among other prominent subjects were Pope
Paul III (1546) and Charles V (1548), Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.
The Emperor appointed Titian court painter and gave him the rank of Count
Palatine and Knight of the Golden Spur.
In the 1540s Titian's work became more
heavily influenced by the Mannerism of central and north Italy. He
traveled to Rome in 1545–6 for his only visit there. In 1550 he
was in Augsburg to paint portraits of Emperor Charles V's son, who was
to become Phillip II of Spain and an important later patron of Titian.
A detail from his 1567–8 self-portrait, now at the Prado, Madrid,
is shown above.
Titian remained active until his death
in Venice at about age 91. His last work was a Pieta' (now in the
Accademia Museum in Venice) created for his own tomb and completed
after his death by Palma il Giovane.