have chosen to write about a man, who many consider the greatest 16th century Venetian painter


I have chosen to write about a man, who many consider the greatest 16th century Venetian painter. Tiziano Vecellio, better know as Titian, was born in Pieve di Cadore which is located north of Venice Italy. The year of his birth is uncertain. Titian, by his own account was born in 1477. But most scholars place his birth sometime around 1487. Throughout his long and wonderful career, Titian was responsible for innovations in the handling of color (which was a preoccupation of the Venetian School). Titian was responsible for countless beautiful paintings that still endure today. His work is found in museums and private collections around the world. His work is also on display at the Vatican.

At an early age, approximately ten years old, Titian and one of his brothers were sent to Venice to study with the mosaicist Sebastian Zuccato. His talents soon surfaced and after four or five years Titian left Zuccato to join one of the most prominent painters of Venice. Titian started studying with Giovanni Bellini. While studying with Bellini, Titian became friends with several other student of Bellini. Most notably was Giorgio da Castelfranco, nicknamed Giorgione. Titian and Giorgione quickly became the young masters of this school. Their paintings became “Arte moderna, that is of painting made more flexible, freed from symmetry and the remnants of hieratic conventions”. 1

After the deaths of Giorgione in 1511 and Bellini in 1515, Titian was left as the unrivalled master in the Venetian School. Starting about this time and for approximately the next fifteen years is what has become know as Titian’s period of bloom and maturity. Titian had “freed himself from the traditions of his youth, undertook a class of more complex subjects and for the first time attempted the monumental style”. 2 His work during this time had an over powering ability to convey a sense of anguish and impulsive lifestyles. He had a unique ability to place these figures with anguished and impulsive life styles into realistic conceived events. It was during this period that he painted one of his most famous paintings, the Assumption of the Madonna. While creating this masterpiece, Titan used strong simple colors. His silhouetting of dark forms against a light background reappeared throughout his work of this period. Paintings that were finished during this time period were completed with great detail. They could be viewed from near and far. The beauty and detail was easily observed.

The next period of his life (1530 ~ 1550) is often identified as the Maturity period. Titian’s style began to move towards a more dramatic style. During this time Titian also began to demonstrate Italian Mannerism in his painting. This influence came from north and central Italy. Titian was deeply impressed by the works of Michelangelo (especially the “Last Judgement”). Some of Titian’ greatest portraits were painted during this period. Throughout his career Titian had shown himself to be an incomparable portrait painter. Titian’s fame and recognition had spread not only through Italy, but also throughout Europe. Kings, Princes and Popes commanded his paintings.

During the time period of 1550 ~ 1575, referred to as his final years, Titian finished only a few works. Titian became more and more absorbed in his works as a portrait. He became very self critical and an insatiable perfectionist. His works from this period never matched his earlier works. These painting didn’t have the same emotion and tragedy that had once flowed onto his paintings. His paintings “gradually lost their solidity, and began to dissolve into hazy paint textures and vibrant brushstrokes, while colors became more intense”3. Titian’s last works were completed wonderful patches of colours, so that close view they are difficult to see. But, at a distance these paintings look perfect. Titian’s last work was the Pieta. This painting was an offering to the church for a burial place. In this painting, Titian included not only a portrait of himself but also that of his son Orazio before the savior. Titian did not complete this painting. Titian died before it could be completed. An assistant to Titian, by the name of Palma Giovane, completed this work.

Titian’s lifetime of work permanently affected the course of European painting. “Titan may be properly regarded as the greatest manipulator of paint in relation to colour, 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”. 4 Titian’s compositions and brushwork have been tremendously influential on artists. Titian excelled in every aspect of paint that he did. He also revolutionized the oil technique with his free and expressive brushwork. During Titian’s life, paintings moved from wood panels to canvas as a painting surface. Titian developed an oil painting technique, during his time as an artist of glazes and broad paint applications, that has and continues to influence painters. One of Titian’s major artistic inhibitions includes being creative with diagonal placing and perspectives along with creating unusual spectator viewpoints. Titian’s paintings strove to capture feelings that were ever changing. His work has the ability to inspire and stir emotion even in the most passive people.

Many people influenced Titian’s work and life. These included The Spanish Habsburg, Charles V, Francis I, Alfonso and Isabelle d’Este and the houses of Ferrara and Urbino. And in turn, Titian’s paintings have influenced the life of people ever since then. One of his most famous paintings and the one that I have found to be the most enjoyable one is his “Venus of Urbino”. This work was created in 1538 during his Maturity period. Every time that I look at this picture, I find something that I didn’t see before. There are several pictures in one. But, that was part of Titian’s style. Titian’s style and beautiful paintings have survived for nearly five hundred years. I hope that they are around for at least that many more years. These paintings are truly works of art that should be enjoyed by every one.


“Titian,” Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia 2003, www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titian, 23:48 Jan 30, 2003

“Titian,” Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2003, www.encarta.msn.com, 1997~2003

“Titian,”, www.cgfa.sunsite.dk/titian/titian_bio.htm

“Titian,” www.incompetech.com/art/titian.html

“Titian,” Giorgio Vasari’s Lives of the Artists, www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/vasari/vasari25.htm

Seduced by paint, www.arts/telegraph.co.uk, Feb 13, 2003