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THE LATER WORK
OF TITIAN I i k




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THE LATERWORK

OF TITIAN




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The Ballantyne Press
Tavistock St. London



CONTENTS



Introduction. By Henry Miles

List of the Principal Works of Tiziano Vecellio



vii
wii



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS



Charles V. on the morning of the Battle of Muhlbcrj.

Andrea Gritti, Doge of Venice .

Jacopo de Strada

Ecce Homo

The Entombment

Danae and the Golden Rain

Johann Friedrich of Saxony

Diana and Callisto

Fabrizio Salvaresio .

A Nymph and Shepherd .

Nicholas Perrenot Granvella

Christ with the disciples at Emmaus

Christ crowned with Thorns

Jupiter and Antiope .

Titian's daughter Lavinia in girlhoo

Portrait of the Artist

Daughter of Roberto Strozzi

Giovanni Francesco Aquaviva, Duke of Atri

Titian's daughter as a woman .

Portrait of a Man

Portrait of a young Woman with a f

Charles the Fifth

The Crowning with Thorns

Perseus and Andromeda .

Old Cornaro ....

Pietro Aretino .

Giovanni de Medici delle Bande Nere



Frontispiece



2

3
4
5
6

7
8

9

10



i3

■5
16

l 7
uS

'9

20

21
22
23

2 4
- 5
26



24773G



LIST OP^ ILLUSTRATIONS— continued



Portrait of Himself ....

Venus reposing ....

Monsignor Beccadilli of Bologna
St. Jerome ......

Count Antonio Porcia

Philip the Second ....

Pope Paul III. with his grandsons, Cardinal Alessandro
Farnese .......

Danae ........

The Education of Love .....

Marco Polo .......

Niccolo Marcello, Doge of the Venetian Republic
The Mourning for Christ .....

Faith

Tobias and the Angel ...

Death of Abel

The Sacrifice of Abraham .....

David and Goliath

Repentant Magdalen ......

The Toilet of Venus ......

Holy Trinity . ......

Ecce Homo .......

Christ and Simon of Cyrene ....

The Entombment ......

La Mater Dolorosa ......

Saint Margaret .......

Philip the Second ......

Philip II. dedicating his son, Don Ferdinand, to Victory
Portrait of the Artist ....

Isabel of Portugal, wife of Charles V.
Salome with the head of John the Baptist
The Marquess of Vasto addressing his troops
Diana and Callisto .....

Venus and Adonis ....

The Fall of Man ....

Venus listening to music .

Religion succoured by Spain

Diana and Acteon ....

The Duke of Alva ....



and



Duk



e Ottavio




THE LATER WORK OF TITIAN

BY HENRY MILES



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F the enterprising editor of some up-to-date newspaper
were to initiate in the columns at his disposal a plebis-
cite, the object of which was to settle the relative
positions of the deceased masters of pictorial art in
the general cultivated opinion, the voters being those
properly qualified in any way to express a judgment
worthy of consideration, it is probable that at the
present day the three names at the head of the poll
would be Rembrandt, Titian, and Velasquez, these being here intentionally
set down in strict alphabetical sequence in order to avoid exacerbating
the susceptibilities of the upholders of the claims of one or another to
the honour of first place and so arousing an internecine warfare among
the expert and the critical.

Were it, furthermore, possible to avail ourselves of Mr. Wells's in-
genious imaginary invention the Time machine and so conduct similar
inquiries backwards through the centuries at intervals of, let us say, fifty
years, it is certain that in the course of them we should find frequent and
considerable fluctuations in the composition of this group of the first
three. Velasquez would, I believe, give place at the latest retrospective
census to Raphael ; Rembrandt, supposing that he stayed so long, would
scarcely survive the beginning of the eighteenth century ; Titian alone
might be expected to occupy a prominent position in every election of
the Immortals. His popularity is, in fact, almost, if not quite, unique from
the circumstance that beginning in his lifetime it has never since diminished
to any appreciable extent, or its justification even been seriously disputed.
Practically the sole derogatory criticism which has ever been put on
record was Michael Angelo's comment that Titian painted so well that it
was a pity that in Venice they did not learn to draw better, and Michael
Angelo, it may be said, was the only man who ever had the right to make
such an assertion.



THE LATER WORK OF TITIAN

It is not a task of overwhelming difficulty to divine the reason of this
enduring fame. Titian appeals with equal force, though by differing
means, alike to the educated and the uneducated in matters of art, as
Shakespeare interests by his vigorous dramatic movement and vivid
character-drawing those who are inaccessible to the subtler beauties of
his poetrv. To perfectly enjoy with full understanding the manifold
excellences of his technical achievement, the diverse and delightful
devices by which under varying circumstances he attained to perfection
the special object he had in view demands prolonged and wisely directed
study if not, though this last is inexpressibly preferable, a course of practi-
cal instruction and experiment in the art-school and the studio. Only to
one who has undergone such can be wholly apparent the complete beauty
of his handiwork, the ease and vigour of his brushwork, the skilful alter-
nation of rich and fat impas to the thinnest scumblings, his masterly
employment of glazings, all that goes to make him a supreme craftsman,
a wonder-worker in paint regarded simply as a plastic material, an un-
surpassed artificer of surface and texture ; to such alone also will be fully
revealed the vital and inherent truth of his renderings of tones and
values. But to the majority even of genuine art-lovers such preliminaries
are necessarily inaccessible, and to them many of the noblest creations of
the painter can speak but brokenly and indistinctly. I doubt, for example,
whether the Titanic grandeur of Michael Angelo or the cultivated classi-
cism of Mantegna have ever stirred to real enthusiasm an absolutely
untrained spectator. There is a lofty sublimity on the one part, an
undeniable if exquisite artificiality on the other each of which is calculated
after its own fashion to raise an impenetrable barrier against mere natural
human sympathies. Titian, on the other hand, is nothing if not human.
He knew mankind from the highest to the lowest, from the Emperor on
his throne to the beggar at the street corner and distilling the essential
features of each in the alembic of his vivifying imagination he has pre-
cipitated upon his canvases the immortal and ever-recognisable type of
each and all. The secrets of all ages and both sexes were open to him
and he expresses with equal ease the venerable age of Doge Grimani,
and the squalid senility of the old dame with the basket of eggs in the
foreground of The Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple, the ripe
maturity of Admiral Giovanni Moro and of Eleanora Gonzaga, Duchess
of Urbino, the youthful promise of the unknown young Man with the
Glove in the Louvre, and of his own daughter Lavinia, while no more
bewitching rendering of the charms of childhood than his can well be
conceived. Especially did he delight in children, dragging them in
one might almost say, sometimes without rhyme or reason, for the sheer
joy of reproducing their soft and rounded forms, as for instance, in the
small cupid who quite unnecessarily but very fascinatingly upholds the
dragOn-crested helmet in the portrait of Giovanni Francesco Aquaviva,
Duke of Atri, at Cassel. Not even Raphael has bequeathed us a more
enchanting series of presentments of the Christ-child than he. In



THE LATER WORK OF TITIAN

the Pesaro Madonna, in the Gipsy Madonna, and The Madonna with
the Cherries, at Vienna, in The Madonna with the Rabbit, and the Madonna
with SS. Stephen, Ambrose, and Maurice, at the Louvre, in the Madonna
with Saints at Dresden, in the Holy Family, with the little St. John, and
in that other with the adoring Shepherd in the National Gallery, London,
in the Virgin in Glory, at Ancona, in The Madonna and Child with SS.
John and Anthony in the Uffizi, in The Madonna with Saints, in the Doria
Palace, Rome, and in another in the Vatican he has given us ever-varying,
ever-truthful pictures of wise infancy. Cupid or cherub, it was all one to
him as long as he could capture and convey the endless mutations of
childish mind and movement. Whether they are speeding Heaven-
wards the cloudy carriage of the Virgin in The Assumption, or offering
for adoration the symbol of the Cross as in La Fede (Faith), or indulging in
unrestrained and precocious revels as in The Sacrifice to the Goddess of
Festivity and Love at Madrid, matters little, they are one and all instinct
with the joyous vitality of infancy. But the most inspired, the most
penetrating realisation of the child mind and body is the little Faun who
tramps proudly along in the forefront of the Bacchus and Ariadne, in the
National Gallery, London, trailing behind him by a cord the severed head
of a calf, so pleased with and proud of his strange and rather grisly prize,
so wholly absorbed in his own small personality that he has no eyes or
ears for God or Nymph. Neither Bacchus nor x\riadne he is perfectly
assured within himself can have any interest for the onlooker while he
and his treasure are there, and he gazes out and up at us with a solemnity
fitting his importance, and with that always infectious confidence of the
child in the heart-whole sympathy with and approval of his most import-
ant affairs on the part of the grown-ups. This comprehension at once
acute and profound of the child is in itself a strong attraction to many
minds, and it is singular that his contemporaries would seem to have so
seldom availed themselves of it by employing him to paint the portraits
of their offspring, a task for which he was pre-eminently qualified as we
may see in the picture of The Daughter of Roberto Strozzi, known as The
Child with the Dog, one version of which is in the gallery at Berlin, while
a second belongs to the Marquess of Northampton.

As an exponent of the charms of girl and womanhood he is no less
remarkable, especially those of the richly developed, full-blooded, rather
sensuous character which to this day is so frequently in evidence among
the Venetians, and in this respect, so far as pleasing the general eye is
concerned, he had a great advantage over Rembrandt whose country-
women were rarely conspicuous by their facial beauty, and even over
Velasquez, whose feminine sitters had the habit of attempting to modify
their natural complexions by the lavish application of whitening and
rouge. Still more favourable were his opportunities in the treatment
of the nude since he had at his disposal that natural elegance of form
undistorted by cramping shoes or tight lacing which makes Italian models
to this day so sought after by painters, and with which the coarse and



THE LATER WORK OF TITIAN

fleshy type alone available to the Dutch master presents so distressing
a contrast. Had Rembrandt had such figures to study as the Venus in
the Uffizi. the superb Sacred or Artless Love in the Borghese Gallery, the
Antiope in the Louvre, the Danae at Naples, and the various renderings
of Venus in the Prado, though he would have been no whit a greater artist
he would not have had to wait so long for general recognition.

Yet one other point remains to be mentioned in which chance, the
mere accident of having been born and brought up in one corner of the
world instead of in another gave Titian a predominance in the creation of
beautiful visions over his two great compeers. The love of display, the
passionate craving for colour were inherent in the Italian mind, more
especially in the Venetian, and manifested themselves on any and every
occasion. We with the dull-hued and unshapely male attire which on
most occasions preponderates in our fortuitous or pre-arranged assemblies
can but dimly conceive, even with all the aid the contemporary painters
have left us, what the streets and canals of Venice were like in their every-
day condition, still less when place and people were decked in their bravest
for some sacred or civil festival. Patrician vied with patrician, plebeian
with plebeian in the richness of their appointments. It is a well-known
tradition that the black colour of all the gondolas of the present day
arises from the passing of an edict long ago enforcing that sombre hue in
order to check the ever-increasing extravagance of the decoration lavished
upon them, and as it was with these, so it was with all else pertaining
to daily life. The houses where they were not adorned with sheets of
coloured marbles were covered, regardless of the destructive effects of
the sea-breezes, with paintings from cornice to water-level. The interiors
were no less gorgeously embellished, while those who peopled them
arrayed themselves in the costliest materials of the brightest hues. Having
almost a monopoly of the over-sea trade with the Orient, the Venetian
merchants gathered into their warehouses the commingled splendours of
East and West. The church which endeavoured to exercise some control
elsewhere had always been regarded with suspicion by the Republic
when she attempted to interfere with lay affairs, and Venetian art was
always more independent of Papal influence than that of any other school.
It was almost entirely an outcome of local conditions, and as in these
colour was the leading note the Venetian painter must be perforce a
master of it. The austerity of the Spanish court which found expression
for the most part in sombreness of attire, on the one hand, and the in-
herited simplicity of the Dutch burghers on the other, deprived both
Velasquez and Rembrandt to a large extent of such instigations and
opportunities, and how deeply the latter at all events felt the lack of
them is shown by the eagerness with which he made exceptions to the
general sobriety of tone that prevailed around him by arraying himself,
his wife, and others of the more intimate sitters in gauds and trappings
alien to his native land.

With the events of the first half of Titian's career we are not here



THE LATER WORK OF TITIAN

directly concerned. They have been treated at sufficient length by Mr.
Malcolm Bell in the introduction to the volume of reproductions of the
earlier paintings, and a brief note of the leading dates is all that need
be given. He was born at Pieve di Cadore in 1477, and was sent to
Venice about ten years later to be educated. Little is known of him
during the succeeding years but in 1507 he was engaged with Giorgione and
Morto da Feltre in decorating the exterior of the Fondaco de' Tedeschi,
and in 1511-1512 in painting frescoes in the Scuola del Santo and Scuola
del Carmine at Padua. During the following years he visited at various
times both Ferrara and Mantua, and in 1530 and again in 1532 he was at
Bologna, on the latter occasion meeting, through the good offices of his
friend Pietro Aretino, the Emperor Charles V. thereby initiating a con-
nection with the Spanish Court which had so great an effect upon his
subsequent artistic production, for to it we owe not only many admirable
portraits, but that singular mixture of the religious and the sensuous
which is still to be seen on the walls of the Prado at Madrid.

With 1540, roughly speaking half-way through his range of pictorial
activity, we begin the list of illustrations included in the present volume.
Titian was by then securely established in reputation and in spite of
the ceaseless wars which were steadily sapping the resources of the
Republic, and the unwillingness or inability of many of his patrons to
pay their debts to him, in a state of financial prosperity. He occupied
a handsome mansion in the Biri Grande, at that time a fashionable quarter,
looking out over the blue lagoons to Murano. He was presented that year
with a pension by Alfonso d'Avalos, Marquis of Vasto, possibly as a mark
of approval on the completion of the portrait of that distinguished officer
of Charles V., addressing the troops under his command which is now
in the Prado at Madrid, while the Emperor himself bestowed upon him
an annuity, recoverable from the treasury at Milan, of 200 crowns, sub-
sequently increased to 400. This benefaction was also possibly due to
the intervention of the Marquis, for though the painting of The Original
Sin (The Fall of Man), which in Eve contains one of the least successful
of Titian's studies of the nude, was finished about that date, Charles was him-
self in the Netherlands fully occupied in reducing once more to a semblance
of grudging submission his rebellious burghers of Ghent. Another work
brought to an end about the same time was the Battle of Cadore, in the hall
of the Doge's Palace, which the timely severitv of the Government,
indignant at his neglect of their commissions in favour of his imperial
patron, had induced him to undertake at last in real earnest. His oppor-
tune industry had the desired affect, and on the death of Pordenone, who
had been appointed to the post from which Titian was dismissed, the
latter was restored while doubtless at the same time the demand for the
repayment of the money which had been advanced to him was allowed
to lapse. Nor can this reinstatement have been altogether indifferent
to him for Charles V. after the disastrous termination of his punitive
expedition to Algiers in 1541, was attacked on all sides by the allied forces



THE LATER WORK OF TITIAN

of the French king and the Turks, and until the conclusion of peace in
1544, must have had too many calls upon his time and his treasury to
remember such trifles as his indebtedness to a far-off Venetian painter.
The portrait of the little daughter of Roberto Strozzi, already referred
to, belongs to the year 1542, but that year is more interesting as showing
us that the painter was not able or willing to rely only on his brush as a
source of income, and did not disdain, as indeed no Venetian did, to
supplement his professional gains by speculating in trade, to which end
he secured a contract for supplying Cadore, the land of his birth, with
grain. While Charles was fighting in France and Hungary, Philip was
in Spain, where in 1543 he married his first wife, Mary of Portugal, and
Titian had time to devote to local patrons, finishing that year the three
panels, The Sacrifice of Abraham, David and Goliath, and the Death of
Abel, which, originally designed for the Church of S. Spirito, are now
in that of S. Maria del Salute, but in the course of the same year he paid
a visit to Bologna and painted a portrait of the aged Alessandro Farnese,
who had been elected Pope in 1534 under the title of Paul III. Either
before or after this visit he furthermore found time to paint for Kaufmann
van Haanen, a wealthy Fleming established in Venice, a large Ecce Homo,
which he signed Titianus Eques Ces F, and dated. It was still in the
possession of the family in 1580, but early in the seventeenth century
it was bought by Sir Henry Wotton, the English Ambassador, for the
Duke of Buckingham. Lord Howard in vain offered seven thousand
pounds for it, and at the sale by auction at Antwerp of the Duke's collec-
tion it was purchased for Ferdinand III., and despatched to Prague
whence Karl VI. in 1763 removed it to Vienna, where it now is. Tradition
says it contains portraits of Charles V., though it is not easy to decide
which of the figures is meant for him, and Suleyman I. called the Magni-
ficent, that remarkable Turkish potentate who was alternately wooed
and attacked, as a rule unsuccessfully, by the leading powers of Southern
Europe, and the turbaned figure on horseback on the right of the picture
may very possibly be intended for him. though Titian can never have
seen him in the flesh. The artist himself is seen talking to a bald-headed
old man in the foreground, and the girl behind him strongly resembles
his daughter Lavinia. The bearded warrior on the extreme right is
unmistakably d'Avalos the commander of the Imperial army, while
with characteristically cynical indifference to his shameful reputation
Pietro Aretino consented to represent the jeering Pilate. There is no
more puzzling problem to be faced in endeavouring to form an estimate
of Titian the man as apart from Titian the painter than his long and
intimate friendship with this notorious scamp. People were not over
squeamish in the sixteenth century, and the morals of most Italian
courts were lax even for the period, but the indecency of Aretino's con-
versation and writings was too much even for them and he had been
dismissed with ignominy both from Arezzo, his native town, and Rome
before he came to settle in Venice in 1526, where he found the means for






THE LATER WORK OF TITIAN

an unexpressibly licentious life by blackmailing those who feared the
poisonous sting of his abusive tongue and pen. That he was remarkably
clever cannot be denied and that, after his own fashion, he was excellent
company may be taken for granted, but it is with regret, not indeed
without misgiving, that one finds him a constant frequenter of Titian's
house during the infancy of his children, and one cannot but wonder
whether he did not pay the penalty in the trouble brought upon him by
the corrupt and dissolute life led by his eldest son Pomponio.

In 1545 he paid his only visit to Rome taking with him the Danae,
and painting while there the portraits on one canvas of Pope Paul III.,
and his grandsons Cardinal Alessandro and Duke Ottavio Farnese, both
of which works are now at Naples, and at the end of the same year or
early in the next he seems to have been at Trent where the famous Council,
of which he has left us a picture in the Louvre, had assembled in December.
He painted Aretino for the last time in 1546, and to about the same date
may be attributed the two portraits of Lavinia his daughter, the beautiful
one with the dish of fruit and flowers at Berlin, and the slightlv different
version representing her as Salome with the head of John the Baptist
at Madrid. Allowing for the rapid development of womanhood in the
south we may conjecture her age in both to be about sixteen, which as
she was born in 1530, would point to this year. To the following year
belong the Venus and Cupid at Florence, a Venus at Madrid, and the
Supper at Emmaus in the Louvre. In the course of it he was summoned
to Augsburg whither Charles had repaired after defeating John Frederick,
Elector of Saxony, at Miihlberg on the Elbe, and there in 1548 he painted
the victor as he appeared at the battle, now at Madrid, and seated in a
chair, now at Munich, and also perhaps, at the same time the defeated
and captured Elector, now at Vienna. In 1550 still, or again, at Augsburg
he painted that portrait of Philip II., which being forwarded to England
played no small part in persuading Mary Tudor into her unhappy marriage
with that cold and formal Prince, though if it at all resembled the one in
half armour now in the Prado, it is not easy to divine what attraction
she found in him. This was probably the last portrait of him Titian
painted from the life, for, in 1551, he returned to Spain, going thence to
England in 1554 for his marriage, crossing to Brussels in 1555 on the abdica-
tion of his father, and returning finally to Spain in 1559 on the conclusion
of his war with France after marrying, for the third time, Isabella the
daughter of the French King. But if the painter and his patron never
met again the latter kept him busily employed. The first picture known
to have been described as "a landscape" pure and simple was sent to him
in 1552, a Danae and Venus and A donis, were forwarded to him in England
in 1554, while about the same time was painted the curious allegorv
at Madrid known as The Gloria (or Holy Trinity), representing Charles Y.,
his crown laid aside, in penitential robes with his wife Isabella and his son,
appealing for the mercy of the Trinity, in the midst of a heterogeneous
throng of scriptural personages. In 1555 the great picture known as



THE LATER WORK OF TITIAN

La Fede (Faith), in the Doge's Palace, a votive offering from Doge Antonio
Grimani, was begun. At what date it was finished is uncertain, but it
happily had not been put in its appointed place by 1577, the year after
Titian's death, and so survived the fiery end which befell so many other
masterpieces that year ; 1558 is the date of the St. Laurence in the Jesuit's


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Online LibraryHenry MilesThe later work of Titian → online text (page 1 of 2)