from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Self-portrait around 1567, Museo del Prado , Madrid
Signature Tizian.PNG
Self-portrait 1550–1562, Gemäldegalerie Berlin

Titian (actually Tiziano Vecellio , probably * around 1488 to 1490 in Pieve di Cadore near Belluno , then County Cadore ; † August 27, 1576 in Venice ) is considered the leading exponent of Venetian painting of the 16th century and one of the main masters of the Italian High Renaissance . During his lifetime he was often called Da Cadore after his place of birth .

His work fell into the golden age of Venetian painting, when the Serenissima experienced its economic and cultural heyday. Titian came to Venice when he was nine years old and was trained by the brothers Gentile and Giovanni Bellini . In 1513 he opened his own workshop in San Samuele and developed into an artist celebrated throughout Europe. In 1533 he was raised to the nobility by Emperor Charles V and appointed his court painter . In 1545 Titian traveled at the invitation of Pope Paul III. to Rome, 1548 and 1550 he accompanied Charles V and his son Philip II to the Diet of Augsburg . When Titian died of the plague at an advanced age in 1576 , he was probably the most successful painter in Venetian history .

Described by his contemporaries as “the sun under the stars”, Titian was one of the most versatile and, with a total of 646 works, also the most productive Italian painters of his time. He painted both portraits and landscapes , mythological and religious subjects. His most famous works include Heavenly and Earthly Love , the Annunciation , Madonna of the Pesaro Family , Venus of Urbino and the Toilet of Venus . Characteristic of his works is his pronounced colorism , which he retained throughout his life.

Towards the end of his long life, he then made a drastic break in style that led to the Baroque and which many art historians see as a return to himself.

Titian's works were already represented in all important collections during his lifetime, such as the Vatican Museums . The ruling families of the high aristocracy , including the d'Este , Gonzaga , Farnese and the Habsburgs , bought up numerous works for their collections. Titian's works were received through numerous engravings and copies , even during his lifetime . Well-known painters of the 16th century such as Lambert Sustris or Jacopo Tintoretto were strongly influenced by Titian. His painting style and especially his coloring should not only have a strong influence on his contemporaries, but also on future generations of painters. The range of painters he influenced ranges from Peter Paul Rubens to Antoine Watteau to Eugène Delacroix .



Titian's birth house in Pieve di Cadore

Tiziano Vecellio was born in Pieve di Cadore in the Dolomites as the oldest of four children. He came from a well-to-do family of lower nobility; his grandfather held a leading position in the city administration. His father Gregorio held the post of superintendent at Pieve Castle; However, it is only mentioned in documents in 1508 during the campaigns of the League of Cambrai . The Dolomites near Pieve had a strong influence on Titian throughout his life. In contrast to most of the major Venetian artists, a strong so-called “continental” influence is noticeable in him, which led to a style that is very plastic by Venetian standards.

His date of birth is still controversial today, as there are no documents or other written evidence of the birth:

  • The death register of the municipality of San Canciano in Venice has the addition under his name: "He died at the age of one hundred three years". According to this source, 1473 would be the year of birth. Another clue is a letter from Titian of August 1, 1571 to the Spanish King Philip II. In this letter, Titian complains about his old age of ninety-five.
  • Serious contemporaries, however, contradict these statements. Vasari stated in his biography that he met Titian in Venice in 1566 at the age of 76. Dolce similarly claims that Titian was only 20 years old when work on the Fondaco dei Tedeschi began in 1509. The alleged age of 103 also seems implausible. Current research and most relevant institutes, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Getty Research Institute , therefore assume a birth between 1488 and 1490.
  • A third hypothesis is based on the dating of an early work by Titian. This is a votive tablet with the title Pope Alexander VI. and Jacopo Pesaro in front of St. Peter . The picture was painted on the occasion of the victory of the Christian fleet over the Ottomans at Leukas , where the battle took place in 1502 and the painting is said to have been created shortly afterwards. Since he could not have been younger than twenty when this tablet was made, he would have been born between 1480 and 1482. However, the dating of this early work is controversial.

Childhood and Education (until 1510)

Flora (around 1515–1520), Uffizi Gallery , Florence
Polyptych Averoldi (Detail of the Annunciation
Angel ) 1522, Santi Nazaro e Celso, Brescia
Polyptych Averoldi (detail of the Virgin) 1522, Santi Nazaro e Celso, Brescia

The exact age of Titian when he arrived in Venice is unclear. An age between nine and twelve years is assumed. Contemporaries have shown that his talent came to the fore very early on. For the time being, Titian and his brother Francesco were sent to their uncle in Venice to look for a suitable apprenticeship for both of them. In Venice they were trained by the mosaic painter Sebastiano Zuccato. Zuccato, possibly a family friend, made it possible for Titian to be accepted into the workshop of Venice's most renowned painters at the time, such as Gentile and Giovanni Bellini. There he came into contact with a group of young and talented painters such as Sebastiano del Piombo , Lorenzo Lotto , Palma da Serinalta and Giorgione . His brother Francesco Vecellio was also to gain some importance as an employee in his workshop.

1507 at this time quite known Giorgione from the city of Venice was commissioned to the external frescoes on 1505 under the direction of Antonio Abbondi rebuilt Fondaco dei Tedeschi perform. Due to weather damage, only fragments of the frescoes painted until 1509 have survived and are kept in the Galleria Franchetti in the Ca 'd'Oro . Apart from these exhibits, which have been preserved in poor condition, only a few etchings by Zanetti from 1760 have survived. While Giorgione was commissioned to carry out the facade, the younger Titian and Morta da Feltre painted the less prestigious sides. But not only for Giorgione, but also especially for Titian, the frescoes, highly praised by contemporaries, represented a professional breakthrough.

However, Giorgione and Tizian subsequently became rivals, although they continued to work together. As a result, the attribution of many of the works created during this period is still controversial today. In recent research, many works formerly ascribed to Giorgione are now ascribed to Titian; the other way round has hardly taken place so far. During their lifetime, the two painters were seen as the founders and leaders of an arte moderna , a new kind of art. Both quickly developed into sought-after artists.

After Giorgione's sudden death in 1510, Titian remained true to his style for some time. In 1511 Titian painted the frescoes in the Scuola del Santo in Padua , and a year later he returned to Venice. This short-term departure to Padua is often explained by the greater influx of painters from the Terra Ferma into the city of Venice, which means that there was a general decline in the price of art goods, which also forced many important painters such as Sebastiano del Piombo to leave the city.

The miracle of healing a severed leg (1511), fresco, Scuola del Santo , Padua

Career and first important successes (1510–1530)

The deaths of Giorgione (1510) and Giovanni Bellini (1516) left Titian with no serious rivals in the Venetian school. For the next sixty years, Titian was to be the undisputed master of Venetian painting.

After he had refused the invitation of the humanist Pietro Bembo to enter the service of the Holy See , in 1513 Titian received the La Senseria broker patent at the Fondaco dei Tedeschi, which was coveted among artists . In the same year he opened a workshop on the Grand Canal near San Samuele. It was not until 1517 that Titian received the privileges of a sinecure for the city of Venice, for which he had applied years before: he became superintendent of the government. As such, he primarily had to complete Bellini's painting in the Great Council Chamber . He was also supposed to replace the damaged depiction of a battle in the Sala del Collegio from the 14th century with an oil painting. He entered into another contract with the city of Venice: he received a fixed salary of 20 kroner per year and was also exempt from some taxes. In return, he undertook to portray all doges for a lifetime at a fixed price of 8 crowns.

In the years 1516 to 1530 Titian gave up the Giorgionesque style and turned to a more monumental style. During these years he established relationships with Alfonso d'Este (he traveled to Ferrara for the first time in 1516), for whom he attended the Festival of Venus (1518–1519), the Bacchanal (1518–1519, both in the Prado , Madrid ) and Ariadne on Naxos ( at the National Gallery , London ). In Ferrara he made friends with the poet Ludovico Ariosto , whom he portrayed several times. He also came into contact with the Duke of Mantua Federico II Gonzaga , who later became his most important patron . At the same time Titian continued his series of small-format pictures of women and the Madonna. These depictions of women, most likely based on the image of Venetian courtesans, are among the early highlights of his work. The following are of importance: Madonna with the child (La Zingarella) , Salome , Flora , young woman at the toilet . The most important work of this time, however, is heavenly and earthly love .

From 1516 to 1518 the most important picture of his career, the Assumption of Mary (so-called Assunta ) was created for the church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice. In the 19th century the painting was exhibited in the Accademia in Venice for decades, but then returned to its original location. The Assunta was a sensation at the time. Dolce said: "The greatness and awfulness of a Michelangelo and the loveliness and grace of a Raphael unite for the first time in the masterpiece of a young Venetian painter" . Even the Signoria took note of the painting and found that Titian was neglecting his duties in the Great Council Chamber in favor of her. In the following years Titian continued the Assunta style . This reached its climax with the Madonna of the House of Pesaro (Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Venice). At this time, Titian was at the height of his fame.

In 1525 he married his wife Cecilia and legitimized their first child Pomponio. Two more were to follow, including Titian's favorite son and later assistant, Orazio. In 1527 he also made acquaintance and very quickly a close friendship with Pietro Aretino , whose portrait he painted for Federico Gonzaga. In the same year he met Jacopo Sansovino , who came to Venice as a refugee from the Sacco di Roma . In 1530 his wife died giving birth to their daughter Lavinia. He moved with his three children and convinced Orsa to come to Venice to take care of the household. The new house was located in Biri Grande, a very upscale part of Venice at the time, which, located by the sea, was known for its view of Murano and the Alps and also for its "lush" gardens.

Marriage (1530–1550)

Titian's home in Venice- Cannaregio

1530 he created the extraordinary, already the era of Baroque afferent death of Peter Martyr for the church San Zanipolo (1867 destroyed by fire of an Austrian grenade). The only remaining evidence of the painting are copies and engravings. Based on this, he developed a new, more differentiated style, so that in the period from 1530 to 1550 his creative power reached another peak.

In 1532, on behalf of Federico Gonzaga, Titian went to Bologna , where Emperor Charles V was staying. Titian portrayed the Habsburg twice, in which he strongly embellished the extremely protruding lower jaw of the emperor in contrast to his competitor Jakob Seisenegger (portrait of Karl V with Ulmer Dogge , 1532, KHM Vienna ). Thereupon he was appointed imperial court painter and knight of the golden spur on May 10, 1533 . His children were also ennobled, which was an extraordinary honor for a painter. The Venetian government, dissatisfied due to the neglect of the work in the Doge's Palace, withdrew his painting patent in 1537 in favor of Giovanni Antonio da Pordenone , Titian's only rival at the time. However, he died at the end of 1539, so that Titian received the patent back. In the meantime, he dutifully turned to his work in the Doge's Palace. In addition, he had painted the battle of Cadore (in the large council chamber), which had long been promised to the council and which today only survives in Fontana's engraving, in fresco technique.

In terms of material wealth and professional success, the position he achieved at this point can only be compared with that of Raphael, Michelangelo and, later, of Peter Paul Rubens. In 1540 Titian received a pension from D'Avalos, the Marquis del Vasto and, in addition, an annual payment from Charles V from the state treasury of Milan of 200 crowns (which was later doubled). Another source of income was a contract signed in 1542 to supply Pieve with grain. He visited his birthplace almost every year and was both influential and generous there. There Titian stayed mostly in a villa on the neighboring Manza hill. From here he observed the shape and nature of the landscape, with the knowledge gained in this way showing up in his landscapes.

From 1542 onwards, Pope Paul III tried to bring Titian to Rome, although the artist did not follow the call until four years later. His goal was a papal fiefdom for his son Pomponio, which would have secured his livelihood. The artist was refused this fiefdom. Nevertheless, he was given a fitting reception, he was made an honorary citizen of the city and in this dignity, as it were, succeeded the great Michelangelo. He could also have taken on Sebastiano del Piombo's lucrative position. This project failed, however, when Charles V ordered him to Augsburg in 1546 .

On the return journey north from Rome, Titian visited Florence and arrived in Augsburg in 1548, where he portrayed the emperor several times. The portrait of Charles V in the Munich Pinakothek , which was long thought to be a work by Titian, was - as has now been proven - not by Titian, but by Lambert Sustris. Titian soon returned to Venice, but was summoned to Augsburg again by Philip II in 1550 . Even after his return to Venice, he was still one of his main clients.

Last years of life (1550–1576)

Pietà (mid-1570s), Galleria dell'Accademia , Venice

During the last 25 years of his life (1550–1576) Titian worked mainly for Philip II and as a portraitist . The painting Portrait of a General comes from this creative phase . He therefore began to withdraw more and more from the events in Venice. Due to the fact that he completed many of the copies made by his students himself, there are also great difficulties with attribution and dating of his late work. In 1555 Titian was at the Council of Trent . In 1556 he awarded Paolo Veronese first prize in the evaluation of paintings for Sansovino's library. In 1566 he was admitted to the Florentine Academy and was given control of the prints made from his works by the Council of Ten. Towards the end of his life he also took on further assignments. At that time, his main client was still Philip II, for whom he painted the famous series of Mythological Pictures of Poetry .

One of his most loyal companions at the time was his nephew Marco Vecellio , also known as Marco di Tiziano. He accompanied his master during this time and imitated his painting technique. Marco also left behind some capable works, such as the meeting of Charles V with Pope Clement VII (1529) in the Doge's Palace and the Annunciation in the Church of San Giacomo di Rialto . A son Marcos, called Tizianello, was also active as a painter at the beginning of the 17th century.

Titian's tomb in Venice.

Titian had betrothed his daughter Lavinia to Cornelio Sarcinelli di Serravalle. She was reportedly a good-looking young woman whom he was very fond of and who he painted frequently. After the death of her aunt Orsa, she took over Titian's household. Because of Titian's handsome income, she achieved a secure financial position. In 1554 she married Cornelio, but she died in 1560 while giving birth. During this time, Titian experienced further severe blows of fate. His close friend Pietro Aretino died unexpectedly in 1556. A decisive experience in his life was the death of his intimate partner Jacopo Sansovino in 1570. Charles V, with whom he was bound by a sincere gratitude and almost friendship, died in 1558, his brother Francesco in 1559 His drastic change in style compared to his earlier masterpieces of the High Renaissance may also be due to these personal blows of fate, which can be gathered from some letters to Philip II. The works that he created during this time seem to have been shaped by these experiences of growing older.

Titian had originally chosen the cross chapel in the church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari as the burial place . In return, he offered the Franciscans who owned the chapel a picture of the Pietà . On this he himself and Orazio are shown standing before the Savior. The work was almost completed, but disputes arose over the picture. Finally, Titian set his place of birth Pieve di Cadore as a burial place. Titian died of the plague in Venice on August 27, 1576, at a very old age , and he was the only church-buried victim of the epidemic. He was finally buried in the church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, the painting of the Pietà was completed by Palma il Giovane . Titian's spacious villa was ransacked by thieves during the plague. Shortly after Titian's death, his son and assistant Orazio also died of the same disease. As King of Lombardy-Veneto , Ferdinand of Austria finally commissioned the creation of a large monument for Titian's grave, which previously did not even have a memorial inscription. The commission was carried out by two students of Antonio Canova between 1838 and 1852.


Along with Raffael, Titian was one of the first artists to add a signature to the value of their paintings . Throughout his work, Tizian signed TICIANUS F. This he often worked, especially at the beginning of his work, into the corresponding robes of the people depicted. Often, from the form of the signature used, one can infer the relationship between Titian and the person represented. How these signatures are to be interpreted in detail, however, remains unclear.

Conception of art

In terms of his conception of art, Titian was less classic / idealistic than Raphael or Michelangelo, for example. Before his trip to Rome in 1546, he only very rarely came into contact with ancient cultural assets. He never studied them so intensely and imitatively as was the case with the Roman painters. In Titian's work, an elementary physique is combined with the traditions of Venetian art. His characters are not spiritual or stylized like those of the great Roman masters, but lively and omnipresent, which is often referred to as painting power.

"Titian's art is the expression of a temperament, in which the serenity of an elementary physique is combined with intellectual individuality, with the traditions of Venice and with the needs and ideas of a newly forming society [...]."

In contrast to Michelangelo, this physically strong depiction was less a means of producing artistic expression than an end in itself. Power has an elementary effect in his pictures, as human actions unite with the environment (such as the raging storm or the falling of a boulder). Furthermore, Titian is probably the greatest colorist of the Italian Renaissance, so the name titian red goes back to him. Often he is limited to his new color scheme and this explains the effect of his paintings. By coloring his pictures, however, he also showed a certain longing urge, which gives his pictures their great sensitivity. His longing and fear of God are not abstract, but neither is it expressly designed as in Raphael or Michelangelo. In the representations of the saints, Titian is neither the saint nor the sublime. His longing is realized in the nature he portrays. Although he is undoubtedly one of the main masters of the High Renaissance, he retains something typically "Venetian" in his style that distinguishes him from the Roman masters of drawing such as Raphael and Michelangelo.

The long period in which Titian's oeuvre spans is unusual . It spans more than seven decades and is almost congruent with the heyday of Venetian painting. This long development process is also evident in Titian's own grandeur. It thus spans the entire history of the eventful 16th century and thus the High Renaissance and parts of Mannerism . A peculiarity, which could also be due to Titian's long creative period, are the clearly defined and distinguishable creative periods in his work. At the beginning of his work he was still looking for new, modern conventions that could replace those of the 15th century. This was followed by his main creative period, which can also be subdivided more precisely. His late works then already point to the Baroque style of Rubens, Rembrandt and Watteau and stylistically stand out clearly from his other works.

As the first Italian artist with a truly international clientele, Tizian owed this in large part to his portraits. Portrait painting made it possible to establish contacts with new clients and maintain old relationships. Since Titian was reluctant to travel, the clients had to go to the master in Venice themselves to be portrayed by him. The privilege that Titian sought out the person to be depicted was only Emperor Charles V or Pope Paul III. Reserved. His artistic goals were exactly in line with the trend of the time, which increasingly used portraits to form a self-confident public image. The main characteristics of these portraits were "a sufficiently flattering portrait, a representation of the public and private position [...] as well as a cautious characterization [...] which should make the portrayed appear full of life". Titian is characterized by the fact that he describes the personality and mood of the portrayed very precisely and links this psychological profile with the allusion to the social rank of the portrayed. This enables him to "flatter the truth under the guise of". Precisely for this reason, his portraits were so often praised as lifelike and were downright groundbreaking for the time. Carlo Ridolfi says that he was aware of this special style and therefore referred anyone who wanted a simple, honest portrait of himself to the painter Giovanni Battista Moroni .

The beginnings (until 1510)

Fresco The Miracle of the Newborn Speaking , 1511, Scuola del Santo , Padua
Rural concert , 1511, Louvre , Paris

Titian's early phase is characterized by a strong resemblance to Giorgione's work . The main difference between the two emerging artists of the Serenissima is the portrayal of people. While Giorgione's works are remote, factual and spiritual, Titian's work is already characterized by a comparatively strong physical presence and interaction of the people portrayed. However, the attribution of many works from this “early period” remains controversial, which is not surprising since both artists worked together in the same workshop. It is still not clear whether Titian was not even Giorgione's apprentice at times.

The long learning process that is evident in Titian's pictures is also striking. While Giorgione's pictures show nothing of youthful awkwardness or inexperience, but rather impress with their freshness, Titian's early works are still relatively uncertain and stylistically half-baked. They give an idea of ​​his talent, but not his ability. So in his first works it is above all a very long and hard learning process, at the end of which the leading painter north of Rome should stand. Titian's life can therefore be clearly divided into different phases, whereby the early phase emerges as very long and concise.

The main characteristics of the early work are already evident in Titian's first art-historically significant work, the exterior frescoes on the Fondaco dei Tedeschi . The comparison of Judith Titian's (preserved fragment of the exterior frescoes on the Fondaco: Galleria Franchetti in the Ca 'd'Oro ) with the nude Giorgione, also preserved as a fragment, shows the main differences between the two artists. While Tizian paints with a powerful, dynamic handwriting, Giorgione's figures are calmer, more lyrical and comparatively stylized. But here, too, Giorgione's frescoes are artistically much more mature. Stylistically, the frescoes were under the impression of the so-called painting of the “West”. Above all, the influence of Albrecht Dürer, who stayed in the lagoon city between 1505 and 1506, is palpable.

Giorgione's influence on Titian is also visible in small-format works and mythological depictions. The most important work of his early phase is the Rural Concert in the Musée du Louvre in Paris. Nowadays, due to the detailed body language, it is no longer attributed to Giorgione, but to Tizian. Not only the final attribution, but also the meaning of the image is controversial. The lute player seems to want to teach the shepherd how to play and is about to strike a string. The shepherd immediately turns to the lute player and ignores the nymph with her flute . The lute is possibly symbolically associated with court society, while the easy-to-play flute represents the wilderness. A nymph pours water from a jug back into the fountain at the side, which could indicate her possible fear of the introduction of courtly values. Accordingly, the representation should be interpreted in such a way that the conflict between the clumsy wilderness and the civilization that destroys it is shown here.

The only precisely documented works from the early period are The Miracle of the Jealous Husband , The Miracle of the Speaking Newborn, and The Miracle of the Healed Young Man . These are frescoes in the Scuola del Santo in Padua , which Titian painted in 1511. This work, too, is a learning step by Titian, in which he poses new problems, but the solutions he has found clearly fall short compared to other contemporary works, such as the Raphael Rooms and the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel . The topic, which is primarily about forgiveness and reconciliation, was inspired by the rapid return of Terra Ferma to the Republic of Venice during the wars against the League of Cambrai.

The earliest known portrait of Titian is the Portrait of a Man (1508, National Gallery , London ). This is probably a self-portrait by Titian; for a long time, however, it was thought to be a representation of Ariostus . Among other things, it served as a template for Rembrandt's famous self-portraits. In this painting the connection to Giorgione is still palpable, but Tizian aims to further increase Giorgione's realism, as can be seen, for example, from the flared sleeve. The portrait is formally shaped by Titian's strong naturalism. The self-confident demeanor of the man and the realistic depiction of clothing were to remain constants in Titian's work.

Youth work and first great successes

The Woman in the Mirror , 1515, Louvre , Paris
Cherry Madonna around 1515, Kunsthistorisches Museum , Vienna
Heavenly and earthly love 1515, Galleria Borghese , Rome. Painting for Sogno di Polifilo (1515)

After Giorgione's death in 1510 and Sebastiano del Piombo's departure to Rome, Titian was almost unrivaled in Venice, apart from the aging Bellini. The self-confidence gained through these circumstances is also evident in his works. Still in the learning phase, he now turns to other, new tasks and this is how a significant series of images of the Madonna and women emerged. His new self-confidence is particularly evident in his Madonna and Child and St. Anthony of Padua and Rochus , which is located in the church of Santa Maria della Salute and thematically relates to the plague that raged in 1509/10. Titian's figures are designed here with the new demonstrative directness that is typical for him. The space remains limited, which increases the physical presence of the figures. The strong coloring also undoubtedly plays an important role in the design of the room.

The oldest and most famous from the series of women and Madonna pictures is the so-called Gypsy Madonna (Madonna zingarella) because of her gypsy-like appearance (dark complexion and brown eyes ). In this Madonna the contrast between Titian and his teacher Bellini, the difference between the 16th and 15th centuries, is very clear. Instead of Bellini's cool, distant Madonnas, there is now a warm, physically present Madonna. Despite this striking difference, the basic type goes back to Bellini. X-rays show that the Christ child originally turned to the viewer, which underlines this. Titian therefore continued Giorgione's practice of making drastic changes after the start of the work. Other important images of the Madonna are the Holy Family with an adoring shepherd , in which Titian's inexperience is still evident, and the Madonna with Child and Saints Dorothea and George , in which the motif of the Sacra Conversazione is expanded to include a domestic aspect.

Venice in Titian's time had the character of a capital of pleasure. It was a rich, splendid city - its charisma often compared to that of Paris during the Belle Époque - and one of the greatest hubs in the world. The number of different courtesans was large, accordingly there was also a great demand for portraits of women. Titian's series of pictures of women is one of the great highlights of his career. The lifelike, powerful and characterful, detailed representation makes it likely that these were idealized portraits of living models.

The most important picture in this series is the flora in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. There are different interpretations of the picture: The portrayed female person is seen as an allegory of marriage, as a celebrated courtesan of antiquity (Flora) or as the goddess of spring. The composition takes a position on the assertion that painting would surpass sculpture because, in addition to an all-round, three-dimensional, physical representation, it also has to offer the colors. In its sculptural beauty, the flora resembles a marble bust permeated with color. The painting is representative of the way in which Titian absorbed antiquity.

Heavenly and earthly love , which emerged in 1514, has a similar connection . The Neoplatonic title is probably incorrect, in the art historical discussion it is often interpreted as an allegory of married life. In contrast to the pictures of women, the clothed woman is not a portrait, but a studio model. She has traditional attributes of a bride. The mate embodies conjugal love, she is supposed to lead the shy, virgin bride into marriage. The landscape that surrounds the figures is now perfected. The bride sitting in the warm sunlight is shielded by the trees, while the right-hand side is designed as a symbol of the greater freedom of the married woman, more open and the light is more glistening.

The "classic" phase

Festival of Venus 1518–1520, Prado , Madrid
Bacchus and Ariadne 1520–1523, National Gallery , London
Madonna of the Pesaro Family 1526, Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari , Venice

After these two initial phases of his work, there now follows a period which art critics often classify as the “classical period” of his work. It is mainly characterized by great masterpieces of occidental culture that emerge in series during this phase. In this decade an ambitious, self-assured Titian appears, who justifies his world-historical fame with his inexhaustible urge for improvement. In this creative phase, Titian finally overcame the Quattrocento , created the new, large form of the altarpiece and gave mythological representations a new form. During this time, Titian became Italy's leading painter.

He made clear the artistic primacy he had acquired in Venice with the first of a series of large altarpieces and proves his inspiration as a universal painter. The Assumption of Mary (Assunta) is the most important work of the Venetian Renaissance. The mighty figures of the apostles are an echo of Michelangelo and there are clear references to Raphael's colors. Titian's endeavors to outdo both and to finally break with the Venetian tradition are clearly visible. Titian, although he had never been to Rome, must have been clearly aware of developments in Rome through traveling artists and laypeople, drawings, prints and statuettes. This becomes particularly clear with the Madonna with the Child, St. Francis and Blasius and the founder Alvise Gozzi in Ancona . The compositional scheme of this painting is clearly inspired by Raphael's Madonna of Foligno , although the coloring and lively sweep of the picture are typical of Titian.

Another major work of religious painting is the Madonna of the Pesaro family, also in the Frari Church . Despite its long history from 1519 to 1526, the picture is tighter, cooler and more mature than the Assunta. It is filled with aristocratic grandeur, the profiles of the assembled Pesaro family keep the viewer at a distance. The mighty pillars that strive powerfully towards the sky add to the sublime character of the picture. It was a late incursion by Titian, originally a barrel vault was planned. In 1530, Titian completed the death of Peter Martyr , which, from the point of view of many contemporaries, was the best painting he had ever painted. The picture tragically burned in 1867 when it was about to be restored, so we only know it from sketches and copies. For the first time, the landscape plays a role in the monumental design of the altarpiece, just as such violence had never been depicted before. All in all, it can be summarized that the altar opened an important door towards the Baroque.

Titian's first major commission outside of Venice was a mythological cycle for Alfonso d'Este . He hadn't been his first choice; only after neither Fra Bartolommeo nor Raffael fulfilled the orders that had been given did the duke resort to Titian. In Venice at that time there was hardly any demand for mythological cycles, so that Titian ventured into a hitherto completely unknown profession. Three important paintings were created: The Festival of Venus , the Bacchanal, and Bacchus and Ariadne . In the Venus Festival, whose material comes from the “paintings” by Philostratus, Titian's joy in childish play and his movement becomes evident. The children flow towards the viewer like a river carrying water. The vividly depicted putti carry the plot, Venus and her companions are similar to the background, depicted in a much more tonal manner. Sources for the second picture in the series Bacchus and Ariadne are Catullus and Ovid . It shows Bacchus, who jumps from the car drunk with love, and Ariadne, who pauses, both startled and fascinated. It combines the strongest movement with exemplary calm. In order to achieve the color brilliance that characterizes the painting, Tizian had to fall back on the strongest pigments available at the time . In terms of composition, the painting is very close to Raphael and is therefore a prime example of the incorporation of ideas borrowed by Titian into his paintings. Bacchanal is the last painting in the series made for the Prince of Ferrara. It shows Bacchus arriving on the island of Andros. He is received there by his entourage and, among other things, turns the water of a spring into wine. The representation of the scene by Titian shows in no way a moral disapproval of these processes, which speaks for the hedonism of the creator.

In the "classical phase" of Titian some very well-known portraits were created. Especially in the first half of the third decade, he also created masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance in this area. A major work is the portrait of Vincenzo Mosti in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence. Through the chosen color accords the depicted person gains in preciousness, the great painterly freedom of face and clothing enlivens the picture. Typical for Titian's portraits, there is also a “classic” eye-catcher: the white collar. The man with glove from the Louvre in Paris is particularly well known . It shows a young man about to enter manhood, whereby the proud facial expression characteristic of Titian has been replaced by a rousing, melancholy thoughtfulness.

Dealing with Mannerism

After Titian's “classic” phase full of high performance and energies, a period of setback followed. In the years 1530–1540 there were hardly any significant works, it seems as if Titian was in a serious creative crisis at this time. This is often dealt with under the catchphrase: " Mannerism crisis ". There is a clear change in style in Titian's works, the period of his youthful works is over, Titian has to struggle more and more for his creativity. Titian's artistic nature was conceivably unsuitable for mannerist currents, so that little or nothing of mannerism can be seen in Titian's works.

Titian's youthful strength and uniformity of his works diminished; each is no longer the logical, further developed continuation of the previous one. He no longer painted for the general public, but for his clients, collectors and patrons . The phase began in which the favor of the emperor was more important to him than the recognition of Venice. During this period one can speak of a transition phase that ultimately led Titian to his characteristic style. But even in this phase, Titian managed to create many masterpieces, albeit less often than in previous years.

Probably the most important representative work of this time is the Temple Walk of Mary for the Scuola Grande di Santa Maria della Carità. The Scuola is now part of the Galleria dell'Accademia , where the painting is still placed in its original location. The picture shows Titian's connection to the Serenissima, at that time probably the most liberal states and communities in Italy. As court painter in Madrid or Rome he could have enjoyed much less artistic and intellectual freedom than in Venice. But there is also a certain distance to the city, since he chooses the mountain peaks of Cadore as background and vanishing point. The work is characterized by vertical and horizontal. The outlines are closed, the gestures moderate, the movement restricted. The sequence of the figures may seem almost old-fashioned and represents a recourse to the ceremonial scenes of the 15th century by Vittore Carpaccio and Gentile Bellini. However, Tizian gives each person portrayed its own weight, its own personality - Hetzer speaks of individual basic strength - and thus develops that Representation clearly further. Likewise, with his representation of architecture he anticipates Veronese's architectural splendor. Overall, the painting is a good example of Titian's change in style; the people portrayed are now self-contained and collected, while previous works are characterized by a form of the highest, directed radiating movement. The most famous work of this creative phase is the Venus de Urbino from the Uffizi in Florence. It is clear that Titian kept very close to Giorgione's Resting Venus . While the resting Venus is depicted lyrically, sweetly asleep and surrounded by a beautiful landscape, the Venus de Urbino is a more seductive version of this work. Everything mythological is missing; the portrayal is material and unsentimental and the portrayed is more like a courtesan than a goddess. The owner Giubaldo della Rovere, heir to the Duchy of Urbino, only speaks of a "naked lady" in connection with the work. Because of this and because all of the mythological features of a Venus are missing, it is now assumed that it is an allegory of conjugal love and not a representation of Venus.

Danae 1553-1554, Prado , Madrid
Venus and Adonis 1554, Prado , Madrid
Diana and Callisto 1556–1559, Duke of Sutherland Collection on loan to the Scottish National Gallery , Edinburgh
Rape of Europe 1559–1562, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum , Boston

Titian's preoccupation with Mannerism is most evident in the three ceiling paintings for the Santo Spirito in Isola. The paintings are now in the sacristy of Santa Maria della Salute . The influence of Giulio Romano , with whose works Titian was always confronted in Mantua , is clearly recognizable in the three works of Abraham's sacrifice , Cain kills Abel and David and Goliath . The images are composed diagonally and coordinated in such a way that a typical zigzag movement results, a stylistic device that is typical of the Venetian up to Tiepolo . A dark, heavy violence is spread over the works, which is brought to the point in a simple, elementary form. The representation of the figures is also elementary and almost primeval: Cain swings a tree trunk as a club with wild strength, Abel is pushed like a stone into the abyss, Abraham pushes his son down like a sacrificial animal and the huge Goliath falls to the ground with incredible force. In his Mannerist phase, Titian brings everything depicted to extremes in a brutal manner and so soaks the scenes with drama. In the Coronation of Thorns from the Louvre in Paris, Titian deals with the mistreatment and mockery of the superior and defenseless through violence and brutality. In the extremely brutal scene, the tormentors drill the crown of thorns into the scalp with sticks. However, the cruelty of the scene is softened by the coloring used. The sticks cut through the painting like knife wounds and form the triangle of the Trinity to the right of Jesus' head. Jesus is represented very physically, the viewer seems to feel the pulsing blood of the victim. The influence of Roman art is also clearly noticeable, for example clear similarities between the Christ figure and the Laocoon statue can be seen. The Ecce Homo represents a highly political statement by Titian, not least because of the diverse compendium of celebrities. The subject, which is rather unusual for Italian painting, is explained by the Flemish client Giovanni d'Anna, a businessman from the political environment of Charles V. As Pilate, Titian's close friend , the art critic Pietro Aretino . Also placed in the work are the Venetian doge Pietro Lando , the Ottoman Sultan Suleyman II , Alfonso d'Avalos and even Titian's daughter. Although Christ is clearly placed to the side, he represents the center of the action due to the outstanding composition of the picture . Pilate's indecision is evident due to his ambiguous posture, with which Titian clearly shows his historical opinion.

Titian in the service of the Habsburgs

The unveiling of the miracle of St. Markus in the Scuola Grande di San Marco by Jacopo Tintoretto 1548 marks the beginning of Titian's turn away from Venetian society. This was due to the increasing competition between Tizian and Tintoretto, who differed significantly in character and in their attitude to life and work. The tense relationship with Tintoretto contrasted with a more cordial relationship with Veronese.

During this time, Titian's contacts with Emperor Charles V (as King of Spain Carlos I) and his son Philip II intensified. A close personal relationship developed particularly with Charles V. After his abdication, he took almost only works by Titian with him to the monastery of San Jerónimo de Yuste , including a portrait of his wife, Isabella of Portugal, who had died in 1539, and was highly revered by the emperor . Among these pictures, Titian's Glory was his favorite work. Under the enthroned Trinity one sees Mary as a mediator between the earthly and the supernatural. Francisco de Vargas, the imperial envoy in Venice, and some prophets from the Old Testament belong to the human sphere. Elevated to the right, Charles V himself is shown kneeling, bareheaded and with the crown removed - often understood as a sign of his tiredness in office. Karl is the center of the composition, the vanishing point is the dove of the Holy Spirit.

The close relationship between Titian and Charles V is also clear in the most important portrait of the emperor: Charles V near Mühlberg . The emperor is shown in a splendid posture and reveals tension and uncertainty. However, the fragile, sickly body of Karl also shows itself, so that in Tizian Karl's size and fragility are represented at the same time. Titian's full-body portrait of Philip II also reveals interesting things. In contrast to his father, who was shown in a similar portrait twenty years earlier, he is not portrayed as an experienced general; the sumptuous clothing worn is a rather general expression for Philip's inherited authority. It is immediately clear to the viewer that Philip II had no particular military inclinations. He appears to be more cultured and educated than his father.

Philip's engagement to Mary Tudor as part of a political alliance and his pronounced interest in the opposite sex provided the appropriate framework for a series of mythological paintings that would prove to be Titian's most seminal works. Titian called this series “poetry”, which implies that his pictures refer to a literary source and that he takes the liberty of freely interpreting the source like a poet. The first picture in this series is the Danae from the Madrid Prado, an even more seductive version of the Danae from Naples. The match was Venus and Adonis , who was sent to Philip's wedding in London in 1554. The literary model was Ovid; According to him, Venus was in love with Adonis and therefore tried to keep him from hunting. When he resisted, he was fatally wounded in revenge by a wild boar. Compared to Ovid's stories, Titian dramatizes the events. It shows the desperate Venus trying to stop her lover. Here Venus' exaggerated posture is typically mannerist and was used carefully to show the painter's skill.

Probably the best-known paintings in the series are the Edinburgh paintings Diana and Actaeon and Diana and Callisto . The works, which were not completed until 1559, went down in European art history due to the excellent coloring with a limited color palette, the diverse poses and the sensuality of the representation. They have been referred to as both mannerist and baroque. The first work, which has been jointly owned by the National Galleries of England and Scotland since 2009, is about Aktaion, who is turned into a deer and torn by his own dogs as punishment for accidentally disturbing the nymphs in their baths. The picture shows the moment when Aktaion has to cope with the shock of his accidental act and its cruel effects. In this way Titian achieves a further dramatization of the already dramatic scene. Diana gives Aktaion a punishing look that the latter, who dropped his bow in surprise, has not yet noticed. Even the maid who is drying Diana's feet has not yet noticed Aktaion, only a nymph crouches behind a column and observes Aktaion critically. Overall, the work conveys a threatening atmosphere, comparable to the proverbial calm before the storm. This picture was acquired in 2012 by the two National Galleries with the help of donations from various foundations and private individuals.

The second painting is also derived from Ovid's Metamorphoses. It depicts the chaste goddess Diana, who condemns the pregnant Callisto, seduced by Jupiter, with an imperious gesture. Diana's face is in shadow, which is an ominous sign of Callisto's punishment. She is banished, turned into a bear, and almost killed by her own son. In principle, the image is characterized by a warm, late-afternoon glow. In addition to clearly portraying the events, both works could also contain a highly political, not immediately obvious message about the danger of being too close to arbitrary power.

The last and best preserved picture of the poetry series is the robbery of the Europa from 1562. The Hellenistic body posture of the Europa is still indebted to the Renaissance, but its rounded, blissful forms reach far into the Baroque. The raised arm throws the typical ominous shadow on her face, the opened thighs immediately announce her probable fate. But in spite of the fear inherent in her, lust also mixes in her face, one could almost see it as an invitation to the putti to shoot their love arrows.

Late work

The demolition of Marsyas around 1570–1576, Kroměříž Castle

From around 1560 onwards, Titian made a radical change in style, probably caused by the many personal blows of fate of this time. His personal fate echoes in his paintings, they become darker, more melancholy and are painted with a bold style. The works created at this time are characterized as his late work and were controversial. Titian's new style was, even if it may have other causes, in the trend of the Mannerism period. The Counter-Reformation was looking for works that addressed the observer emotionally, drawn them into the action and forced their sympathy. Through this, a stronger bond between the faithful and the church should be achieved. In this respect, Titian's last works certainly met the taste of the Spanish court. From Palma Il Giovane , a pupil of Titian, we have more precise information about the working method of Titian in his old age: “The painter used to sketch the composition with large amounts of bravely applied paint, and then turn the canvas towards the wall, often for several months. Then he subjected them to a very rigid examination, as if they were his mortal enemies, and looked for mistakes. In the last phase of completion he painted more with his fingers than with his brush. "

In the Entombment of Christ , which was enclosed with the Edinburgh poetry pictures, Titian's generous, open style, with which the light is captured, becomes clear. With the exception of Nicodemus, whom Titian made for his own self-portrait, all persons lean to the left. This once again illustrates the slackened weight of the dead Jesus. The counter-Reformation art that was now beginning becomes particularly clear through the crucifixion of Christ with Mary and St. John and Domenicus from Ancona. The mourners in the foreground awaken compassion and emotional affection in the viewer. Christ is shown smaller than the other figures, which creates separation and distance. It is thus the prototype of a counter-Reformation depiction of the crucifixion, which should appeal to the faithful with a particularly realistic, emotionally and lifelike, and completely unstylized depiction. Another key work by Titian a few years later is the Annunciation from S. Salvatore in Venice. What is shown is not the preaching, but the moment immediately after the preaching. Mary has already lifted her veil while the angel stands in awe. The entire picture appears very material, in contradiction to the otherworldliness of the presented subject. In the upper part of the painting, all the colors merge with one another until the grandiose fountain of light of the Holy Spirit, which drives the host of heaven apart, comes.

It was only in the last decade of his life that the classical High Renaissance was completely overcome by Titian. So far, this has always been his cultural home, despite Mannerist tendencies. This change in style is particularly evident in the Munich coronation of thorns . While Christ is shown in a heroic fight in the Paris crowning of thorns , which can be traced back to Laocoon in the composition, the mood in the Munich crowning of thorns is subdued, almost like a ritual. The Fling of Marsyas is one of the works Titian was working on in 1576 when a terrible plague raged in Venice. The dreary, gloomy mood, which, among other things, triggered the death of his favorite son Orazio, can also be felt here. The flaming brown-red tones and the darkness of the only occasionally illuminated main colors make the cruelty of the mythological scene depicted even more terrifying. Marsyas is hung by the hooves, like an animal carcass, while he is being skinned by his tormentor Apollo and his assistant.

With increasing age, Titian only rarely made portraits, his main motifs were largely religious. He only made exceptions for high personalities or people with whom he was friends. In this way, even in the late work phase, he managed to produce two main works of his portrait art: the self-portrait in the Prado and the portrait of Jacopo de Strada . The self-portrait shows a completely different way of self-expression. In place of the self-confidence and strength that can be seen in the Berlin self-portrait, there is physical decline and decreased self-confidence. One of the last masterpieces of Titian's portrait art is the portrait of Jacopo Strada. The allusions to his profession shown do not let his characteristic face fade into the background. What is particularly unusual for the portrait type of the time is that Strada does not look directly at the viewer, but looks out of the picture with a questioning expression on his face.


In order to be able to inspire an international audience for and about his work, many of Titian's works were reproduced. With the help of these engravings, Titian was able to reach a far larger target audience than he could with conventional means. The inverted and monochromatic engravings did not allow any real conclusions to be drawn about the quality of his pictures, but they were irreplaceable for Titian's reputation. In addition, in the art theory of the time, the invention, which can be reproduced, was considered the main achievement in a painting . Titian was well aware of the importance of these engravings for his professional success. Therefore, from 1566 onwards, he only had engravings made under his direct control. In the same year he also obtained a monopoly on the distribution of his engravings from the Signoria, which enabled him to prevent inferior or faulty engravings of his works from being distributed or sold and his reputation being damaged as a result.

Between 1517 and 1520 he made some woodcuts himself. The best known from this series is the crossing of the Red Sea . Here he worked with Domenico Campagnola , who created other prints based on his paintings and drawings. Much later, Titian sent drawings of his pictures to Cornelis Cort , who engraved them. Modern research is aware of this through Lampsonius, the secretary of Bishop Liège Gerard van Groesbeeck . In a personal letter he praised the, in his opinion, extremely high quality of the sheets engraved by Cornelius Cort and implored Titian to have more such engravings made. Cornelis Cort was followed by Martino Rota from 1558 to 1568. Titian usually had works reproduced that he had delivered to the Spanish court. These orders for the Habsburgs increased his popularity, but were inaccessible to the Italian target audience. In some cases, Titian also used the engravings to deal with topics for which he would otherwise not have the time.


Instead of using only eggs, as was customary at the time, the pigments were bound with oil and egg or only with oil, a technique of color preparation that goes back to the Flemish painter Jan van Eyck . Oil painting had the advantage of presenting unchanged color freshness over a much longer period of time.

According to his student Giacomo Palma, Titian's palette comprised 9 colors:

Titian's color palette (after Giacomo Palma)
colour pigment origin
White White lead inorganic
blue Lapis lazuli mineral - inorganic
red Burnt ocher inorganic
red Purple of purple snail animal - organic
yellow Yellow ocher, beautiful yellow inorganic
yellow Auripigment mineral - inorganic
brown Burnt Siena inorganic
black Animal charcoal animal - organic
green malachite mineral - inorganic

However, Tizian also used other colors such as gold and green and other pigments such as Realgar as a bright orange, e.g. B. in the cymbal player's coat in the oil painting Bacchus and Ariadne (made 1520–23).

Significance and aftermath

Workshop and student

In 1513 Titian opened his first studio in San Samuele. Until his death in 1576 he trained students there who helped him with many of his works or made copies of them. In the years after 1550 in particular, many replicas of Titian's earlier works came onto the market, which were probably at least partially executed by Titian's students.

Only a few of Titian's pupils gained fame under their own names, most of them were probably only assistants of the great artist for their entire life, including Titian's brother Francesco, his son Orazio or his nephew Marco . Only from Paris Bordone , Bonifazio Veronese and Palma il Giovane would later become independent, well-known painters. However, these three were only briefly employed in Titian's workshop. Both Bonifazio Veronese and Palma il Giovane left his workshop in a dispute with Titian. Tintoretto is also said to have been an apprentice in Titian's studio for a while, and it was said that Tizian had thrown the young Tintoretto out of his workshop. The two painters came from different social classes and had contrary ideals and worldviews, which was probably the reason for their differences. Even later, both artists were bitter competitors, and their relationship with one another was extremely strained throughout their lives. According to Giulio Clovio , El Greco (Dominikos Theotokopoulos) is said to have been employed by Titian in the last years of his life when he moved from Crete to Venice.

Overall, Titian was accused by most of his contemporaries, including Giorgio Vasari , for not being able to cope with promising talents in his studio. He had neither promoted nor taught his assistants. Such statements by his contemporaries also gave rise to the image of a disapproving, even envious painter who did everything to weaken his competition. Perhaps it was this practice that made Titian's impressive work possible. His assistants, since they had no special artistic training, were very suitable as the master's arm. In Venice it was said: "If his students hadn't done so much work for him, Titian would never have been able to complete so many pictures."

The comparison with the workshop of the Bellini brothers is also astonishing: with Giorgione, Tizian, Sebastiano del Piombo and Lorenzo Lotto they produced four very successful artists. In contrast, Titian's workshop did not produce a really high-profile artist. This behavior of Titian led to a large void in Venetian painting after his death. This is one of the reasons why the importance of Venetian painting declined during the 17th century . After Tintoretto's death, Venice would not produce a “first-rate” painter for more than a generation. Thus Titian's work remained without a worthy successor.

The share of his workshop in his works varies and is still unclear today. However, many paintings from the last decades of his life have been preserved that can be clearly assigned to his workshop. In the last years of his life he also started to finish unfinished paintings by his students himself. This led to great dating and attribution problems for all of his late works. After his sudden death there were a number of paintings in his workshop, some of which are still very well known today. However, these were only partially completed, the rest was completed and sold by Titian's students. Therefore, especially with these last works, there is a problem that it is impossible to determine the workshop share.

Respect and awareness

Titian achieved national fame in the early days of his work. He later became the most successful living painter, with commissions from all over Europe and from all important mansions. He was particularly closely connected to the royal court in Madrid, so that the death of Charles V was a hard blow for him. On the other hand, Charles V also seemed to be very interested in Titian, because, as already mentioned, the emperor appointed him court painter and ennobled him and his sons. He would have loved to commit Titian to permanent allegiance. Obviously, his works also had a personal value for him, so after his abdication in Brussels in 1556 he took mostly paintings by Titian with him. Philip II was also an important client and great lover of Titian. Other important patrons were the Republic of Venice and especially the Gonzaga princely family. Even popes from Rome like Pope Paul III. tried to win Titian over as court painter. As a result, his works were in great demand throughout Italy and then in the rest of Western Europe.

Even during his lifetime, Titian was compared with the main masters of the High Renaissance, Raphael and Michelangelo. Titian's reputation as one of the most important artists in European art history has not been diminished to this day. Titian's, despite the strong physical presence of the performing figures, but rather Venetian, lyrical style was an important point of contention about his work. In particular, the contemporary art theory of the Renaissance therefore dealt with him extensively: This is what Vasari criticized in the second edition of his biography in 1568 all Venetian painters regarding their neglect of sketches and other preparatory drawings; he implied here the charge of intellectual inconsistency. In this edition, however, Titian is mentioned in detail for the first time and thus placed on a level with other great Italian masters. Even later, Vasari would maintain his critical attitude towards Titian. In 1548 Pino recommended for the first time the combination of Titian's coloring and Michelangelo's art of drawing for the "ideal" artist, a phrase that would last for a long time and that was later used to refer to Jacopo Tintoretto, among others. Dolce, on the other hand, defined painting as the link between the art of drawing, inventiveness and coloring. He considered Titian equal in the first two categories and even superior in the latter. From this he deduced that Titian had more in common with Raphael than with Michelangelo. In the context of this dispute, the break between the supporters of Venetian and Northern Italian painting and the supporters of “Roman” painting becomes clear. The main advocates of Titian were Ludovico Dolce and his close friend Pietro Aretino. Titian's most serious adversary was probably Michelangelo, who is said to have said while looking at the Danae : "What a shame that in Venice you don't learn to draw correctly from the start and that those painters are not trained in a better way."

Overall, typical characteristics of Titian's painting, such as the great agitation or the psychological sensitivity, were already reduced to the concept of color by his contemporaries. Although the coloring has a very important position in his overall work, it is also characterized by the physical strength of the people depicted and mostly by a sophisticated composition. Posthumously, however, his work was viewed much more positively, be it Carlo Ridolfi, who praised the Assunta exuberantly, Joshua Reynolds or Eugène Delacroix , who said: "If you lived a hundred and twenty years, one would ultimately prefer Titian to anything else." The statement also alludes to the long maturation process that is hidden behind each of Titian's pictures.

In the 19th century, art historians began to devote themselves increasingly to Titian, parallel to the general development of art history research. The famous two-volume biography of Titian von Crowe and Cavalcaselle falls during this period . The most important German-speaking art historian of the time, Jacob Burckhardt, also studied Titian in detail and dedicated a long chapter in his main work, Cicerone, to him . As a summarizing introduction, he writes:

“In the middle of the school stands the huge figure of Titian, who in his almost hundred years of life has absorbed everything that Venice was able to do in painting, or produced it himself or awakened it in an exemplary manner in the younger generation. It is his spiritual element in school that he does not represent anywhere perfectly; however, it also represents their limitation [...]

The divine trait in Titian consists in the fact that he feels that harmony of existence in things and people, which according to their nature should be in them or which still lives in them, clouded and unrecognizable; Whatever is disintegrated, scattered, conditioned in reality, he presents as whole, blissful and free. Art probably has this task throughout; But no one solves it so calmly, so undemandingly, with such an expression of necessity. In him this harmony was pre-established in order to need a philosophical term in a special sense. He possessed all the external artificial means to a particularly high degree, but several achieve him in individual cases. What is essential is always his great conception [...] "

- Jacob Burckhardt : The Cicerone

Titian also devotes a long article to the 11th edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, published in 1911, which is now considered the culmination of knowledge from the 19th century and arguably the best lexicon ever published, and praises it with the highest tones:

"Titian may properly be regarded as the greatest manipulator of paint in relation to color, tone, luminosity, richness, texture, surface and harmony and with a view to the production of a pictorial whole conveying to the eye a true, dignified and beautiful impression of its general subject matter and of the objects of sense which form its constituent parts. "

- Encyclopaedia Britannica
Ecce homo , 1543, Kunsthistorisches Museum , Vienna

In the middle of the 20th century, the influential German art historian Theodor Hetzer studied Titian in detail. Titian is often named as his or one of his favorite painters. Between the lines he clearly criticizes the allegedly insufficient recognition that Titian would receive. At the beginning of the 20th century, Titian, although still highly regarded, took a back seat due to the general "hype" surrounding Tintoretto. But critical tones could also be heard from Theodor Hetzer. Especially Titian's "Mannerist phase" did not meet with undivided enthusiasm. For example, he clearly criticized the now very well-known Ecce Homo from Vienna:

“The fame of being Venice's greatest painter and one of the first in European art has never been disputed by Titian and it is not disputed against him today either. But lately, and especially in Germany, Titian's greatness has been recognized and respected more than felt alive. (...) Titian's art can be called great in more than one respect. "

- Theodor Hetzer : Venetian painting

“But Titian is not given the ease and elegance of Paolo , not the preciousness of jewels and gold. It is too emphatic in every single figure, too lifelike to allow a process to fade away in the grand decorative, to play innocently with the serious. Like none other in Tizian's work, this picture in particular arouses very ambivalent feelings with its extraordinary qualities. "

- Theodor Hetzer : Venetian painting

The opinions on Titian's late work were already contradicting himself during his lifetime. Some contemporaries considered his almost impressionistic art style to be a result of aging, dwindling eyesight and his overall diminishing powers. Others, in turn, saw the new form of elementary scarcity and broken colors and brushstrokes as the completion of Titian's work; For example, the Lombard artist and art critic Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo called this last phase of life "chromatic alchemy". In his opinion, Titian worked like an alchemist during this period, turning base metals into gold. Roberto Longhi saw his late work as "magical impressionism ".

Titian on the art market

In the past few years two works by Titian that were previously privately owned have been offered for sale. One of the two, the Diana and Actaeon , was acquired by the London National Gallery and the Scottish National Gallery together on February 2, 2009 for the equivalent of $ 71 million (£ 50 million). The two museums had a right of first refusal until December 31, 2008, before the work would have been publicly auctioned. However, this period was extended so that the museums could still make use of it. For the other painting Diana and Callisto , the museums will have the same modalities until 2012, before it will also be offered for sale to private collectors. According to estimates by leading art experts, both paintings, if offered, would have had a market value of £ 300 million.

The purchase quickly became the subject of political controversy as some leaders felt the money could have been better spent in times of recession. However, the purchase was only partially financed by state funds. The Scottish Government provided £ 12.5 million and £ 10 million from the National Heritage Memorial Fund . The rest of the money came from other foundations, private donors and the National Galleries in London and Edinburgh.

In spring 2011, Sotheby's in New York auctioned the painting The Madonna and Child with St. Luke and Katherina of Alexandria in New York from the Heinz Kisters collection . The expected estimate of $ 20 million was not quite achieved; the picture went to an anonymous buyer for $ 16.9 million (£ 10.7 million). The price is still one of the highest paid so far.

In 2004, the acquired Getty Museum image Portrait of Alfonso d'Avalos with a bell boy , that was then issued on loan to the insurance group Axa in the Louvre, to a - not officially confirmed - price of 70 million US dollars.



Anthonis van Dyck : Emperor Charles V on horseback , around 1620

The coloristic realism of the Venetians, influenced by the Flemish schools, reached its peak through Titian. As the undisputed main master of the Venetian Renaissance, he occupies an important position in art history. Few painters had a greater influence on subsequent generations of artists. With the Assumption of Mary from the Frari Church, Titian created the first “modern” high altar. This type was to shape religious painting in Europe for two centuries. But Titian's influence on subsequent generations of artists was also enormous in the area of ​​mythological themes. He brought this subject to perfection for the first time and created the most important mythological representations of the Renaissance. Titian's important role in the history of European portrait painting must also be taken into account. Titian can be classified seamlessly along with Raphael and Michelangelo as the most important artists of the Italian Renaissance. His reception was correspondingly large. He dominated at least two generations of Venetian painting from Giorgione and Sebastiano del Piombo to Tintoretto and Veronese. As an employee, Lambert Sustris was so strongly influenced by Titian that his portrait of Emperor Charles V from the Munich Pinakothek was considered a major work by Titian for a long time. Tintoretto, on the other hand, proudly claimed that he embodied the connection between Michelangelo's art of drawing and Titian's colorism. Especially with the painting Miracle of St. He tried to convince Markus of his abilities; this painting would mark his breakthrough in Venice. Such a painting would never have been possible without Titian's influence on Venetian painting.

Unlike Michelangelo, Titian did not develop a school of his own. His coloring remained and remains admired, but every artist who studied Titian's work took it differently, so that a uniform form of imitation could never prevail. This path stretches from Peter Paul Rubens ' "deep, beautifully blooming love, to van Dyck's skilful but superficial exploitation," as Theodor Hetzer notes. Thus, Titian's posthumous influence on the European baroque was great. Very soon, Titian was part of the "training component" for ambitious painters of all kinds. Rubens in particular often used Titian's works as inspiration or tried to imitate them. In principle, one can speak of a very close artistic relationship between Rubens and Titian. Not only did he draw heavily on him in his training and apprenticeship years, when he was among other things court painter in Mantua, but he even came back to him as a mature artist. It is now assumed that his rejuvenated late style is not due to his very young second wife Fourment , but to his renewed engagement with Titian. Rubens 'dialogue with Titian began with a portrait of Isabella d'Este in Mantua and reached its climax with a copy of the Feast of Venus and the Andrians' Bacchanal . No other painter has influenced Rubens as much as Titian did. Rubens' student Anthony van Dyck also used Titian as a model with great success. He first came into contact with his art in England, where he studied the Italian masterpieces at court very carefully. In this context one can even speak of a watering down of Rubens' influence in favor of Veronese and especially Titian. Probably no other artist understood how skillfully and successfully how to imitate Titian.

Reception of Titian's works

However, Titian not only had a great influence on the Flemish Baroque, but also on the golden age of Dutch art. Probably the most important artist of this era, Rembrandt , was heavily influenced by Titian - especially in portraiture. His early work Portrait of a Young Man in particular was an important inspiration for Rembrandt's famous self-portraits. Titian's influence on Saskia is even more immediate than Flora . Titian's Flora first encouraged Rembrandt to paint such a painting by showing his wife Saskia as Flora. Overall, Titian's reception in Rembrandt's works is omnipresent. Even the French baroque or classicism was not insignificantly influenced by Titian. Some examples of this are Nicolas Poussin , Claude Lorrain and Antoine Watteau . The first two in particular were heavily influenced by him. Both spent most of their lives in Italy and therefore inevitably came into contact with Titian. Poussin's first works, e.g. B. the rest on the flight to Egypt from the year 1627 clearly testifies to Poussin's admiration for the lively, lively life in Titian's Venus festival . The landscape painting of the two French baroque painters was also clearly influenced by Titian.

Not only the great masters up to the 18th century such as Rubens, Poussin and Watteau were among his admirers, but also major masters of the 19th century such as Eugène Delacroix , Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and especially the Impressionists such. B. Édouard Manet received important suggestions from Titian. Ingres' main work, the Turkish bath , is a logical development of the Edinburgh poetry series. But far more important is the Titian view of the Impressionists, and here especially the Manets. The seductive Venus de Urbino provoked Manet and led him to a polemical imitation in the form of Olympia . Here he wanted to polarize consciously; out of criticism of the voyeurism typical of the 19th century , he depicts the naked woman in a provocative pose and with the typical positional characteristics of a prostitute. Thus, the Olympia is Manet's very personal reaction to the Venus de Urbino .

Literary processing

At the age of 18, Hugo von Hofmannsthal wrote a short drama about the painter's demise - The Death of Titian (1892). This is a projection of the situation at Titian's death onto issues and problems of the fin de siècle .


  • Daniela Bohde : skin, flesh and color. Physicality and materiality in Titian's paintings (= Zephyr , Volume 3). Edition Imorde, Emsdetten / Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-9805644-9-5 . ( Dissertation at the University of Hamburg 1999).
  • Corrado Cagli: L'opera completa di Tiziano. Apparati critici e filologici di Francesco Valcanover. Milan 1969.
  • Giovanni B. Cavalcaselle, Joseph-Archer Crowe: Titian, life and works. 2 volumes. Hirzel, Leipzig 1878.
  • Syvia Ferino-Pagden (ed.): The late Titian and the sensuality of painting. An exhibition by the Kunsthistorisches Museum in collaboration with the Galleria dell'Accademia in Venice. Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum: October 18, 2007 to January 6, 2008; Venice, Galleria dell'Accademia: February 1 to April 21, 2008. Vienna 2007, ISBN 978-3-85497-120-7 .
  • Theodor Hetzer : Titian. Titian's early paintings. A style-critical investigation. Schwabe, Basel 1920, DNB 570339146 (dissertation University of Basel, philosophical historical, 1915).
  • Marion Kaminski: Tiziano Vecellio, called Tizian. Könemann, Cologne 1998, ISBN 3-8290-0699-3 ; Ullmann, Potsdam 2013, ISBN 978-3-8480-0623-6 .
  • Hans Ost: Titian studies. Böhlau, Cologne 1992, ISBN 3-412-09891-4 .
  • Julia Reimann: Venice is a poetic miracle: a study of the reception of the Venetian Renaissance painters Tizian, Tintoretto and Veronese in German literature. Tectum, Marburg 2010, ISBN 978-3-8288-2233-7 . (Dissertation University of Münster 2010.)
  • Valeska von Rosen: Mimesis and self-referentiality in Titian's works. Studies on the Venetian painting discourse (= Zephir, Volume 1). Edition Imorde, Emsdetten / Berlin 2001, ISBN 3-9805644-6-0 (dissertation at the FU Berlin 1998).
  • Wilhelm Schlink : Titian. Life and work. Beck, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-406-56883-1 .
  • Giorgio Vasari: The Life of Titian . Newly translated by Victoria Lorini. Commented and edited by Christina Irlenbusch. Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-8031-5027-2 .
  • Harold E. Wethey: The Paintings of Titian. The Complete Edition. 3 volumes. London 1969-1975.


Titian and his painting Heavenly and Earthly Love on the Italian 20,000 lire banknote

Titian and his painting Heavenly and Earthly Love were depicted on the Italian 20,000 lire banknote issued by the Banca d'Italia between 1975 and 1985.

Web links

Commons : Tizian  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Tizian, actually Tiziano Vecellio . In: Meyers Konversations-Lexikon . 4th edition. Volume 15, Verlag des Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig / Vienna 1885–1892, p. 731.
  2. Metropolitan Museum of Art timeline, retrieved February 11, 2009
  3. ^ Fossi, Gloria, Italian Art: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture from the Origins to the Present Day , p. 194. Giunti, 2000. ISBN 88-09-01771-4
  4. Ian G.Kennedy: Titian. Taschen, Cologne 2006. p. 7
  5. ^ David Jaffé (ed), Titian, The National Gallery Company / Yale, p. 11, London 2003, ISBN 1-85709-903-6
  6. When Was Titian Born?
  7. a b Filippo Pedrocco: Titian . Scala, Florence 1997, p. 3
  8. ^ Filippo Pedrocco: Titian. Scala, Florence 1997. pp. 3/4
  9. Filippo Pedrocco et al .: The greatest artists in Italy. Scala, Florence 2001, p. 406
  10. ^ David Jaffé (ed): Titian , The National Gallery Company / Yale, p. 11, London 2003, ISBN 1-85709-903-6
  11. ^ Theodor Hetzer: Venetian painting. Urachhaus. Stuttgart, 1985. p. 498
  12. a b Ian G.Kennedy: Titian . Taschen, Cologne 2006, p. 9
  13. Danae receives immaculate . In: Der Spiegel . No. 24 , 1990 ( online ).
  14. a b Ian G.Kennedy: Titian . Taschen, Cologne 2006, p. 31
  15. ^ Charles Hope, in Jaffé, p. 15
  16. Martina Mian et al .: The Churches of Venice. Chorus. Venice, 2002. p. 49
  17. ^ Charles Hope in Jaffé, p. 14
  18. Martina Mian et al .: The Churches of Venice. Chorus. Venice, 2002. p. 50
  19. ^ Theodor Hetzer: Venetian painting. Urachhaus. Stuttgart, 1985. p. 318
  20. Ian G.Kennedy: Titian. Taschen, Cologne 2006. p. 41
  21. ^ RF Heath: Life of Titian , p. 5
  22. Blessing of the concubine . In: Der Spiegel . No. 22 , 1995 ( online ).
  23. ^ Hans Ost: Lambert Sustris . Cologne 1985
  24. Ian G.Kennedy: Titian . Taschen, Cologne 2006, p. 95.
  25. a b Filippo Pedrocco: Titian . Scala, Florence 1997, p. 62
  26. Tobias Burg: The signature: forms and functions from the Middle Ages to the 17th century . Art history vol. 80. Lit-Verlag, Berlin 2007. S. 359/60
  27. Tobias Burg: The signature: forms and functions from the Middle Ages to the 17th century . Art history vol. 80. Lit-Verlag, Berlin 2007. p. 361
  28. a b Theodor Hetzer: Venetian painting . Urachhaus. Stuttgart 1985, p. 316
  29. a b Theodor Hetzer: Venetian painting . Urachhaus. Stuttgart 1985, p. 317
  30. a b Theodor Hetzer: Venetian painting . Urachhaus. Stuttgart 1985, p. 314
  31. Ian G.Kennedy: Titian. Taschen, Cologne 2006. p. 26
  32. ^ Graziano Paolo Clerici: Tiziano e la "Hypnerotomachia Poliphili" , Firenze: LS Olschki, 1919 WorldCat
  33. Ian G.Kennedy: Titian. Taschen, Cologne 2006. p. 80
  34. Ian G.Kennedy: Titian. Taschen, Cologne 2006. p. 79
  35. ^ Norbert Huse et al .: Venice: The Art of the Renaissance: Architecture, Sculpture, Painting 1460–1590 . CH Beck, 1996. p. 312
  36. a b c d Norbert Huse et al .: Venice: The art of the Renaissance: architecture, sculpture, painting 1460–1590 . CH Beck, 1996. p. 313
  37. Landau, 304-305, and in catalog entries following. Much more detailed consideration is given at various points in: David Landau & Peter Parshall, The Renaissance Print , Yale, 1996, ISBN 0-300-06883-2
  38. Philip Ball: Bright Earth . Nature, March 16, 2001
  39. Old Masters Palette: Tiziano Vecellio (Titian) (c. 1485–1576). Archived from the original on April 21, 2013 ; accessed on February 11, 2015 .
  40. ^ Realgar pigments. Archived from the original on October 28, 2013 ; accessed on February 11, 2015 .
  41. ^ W. Schlink: Tizian. Life and work . CH Beck, Munich 2008, W. Schlink: Tizian. Life and work . CH Beck, Munich 2008, p. 20
  42. Ian G.Kennedy: Titian. Taschen, Cologne 2006. p. 69
  43. Ian G.Kennedy: Titian. Taschen, Cologne 2006. p. 71
  44. M. Lambraki-Plaka, El Greco — The Greek , p. 42
  45. ^ W. Schlink: Tizian. Life and work . CH Beck, Munich 2008, p. 23
  46. ^ W. Schlink: Tizian. Life and work . CH Beck, Munich 2008, p. 24
  47. ^ W. Schlink: Tizian. Life and work . CH Beck, Munich 2008, p. 25
  48. ^ W. Schlink: Tizian. Life and work . CH Beck, Munich 2008, p. 8
  49. Ian G.Kennedy: Titian. Taschen, Cologne 2006. p. 53
  50. ^ Theodor Hetzer: Venetian painting . Urachhaus, Stuttgart 1985, p. 315 f.
  51. Jakob Burckhard: The art of painting in Italy . CH Beck, Munich 2003. p. 57
  52. Article on BBC News website
  53. Will Bennett: The $ 70 million soldier. The Telegraph, February 23, 2004
  54. ^ Titian ( Memento from October 25, 2004 in the Internet Archive ), art-service.de, accessed on November 8, 2012