Who is... Titian?
`Entombment of Christ' (1523 - 1526) is splendid example of Titian's mature period
THERE IS some controversy about the year of Titian's birth. He made himself out to be older than he was - apparently to pull the heartstrings of his patrons. He wrote to Philip II in 1571 that he was more than 95, which would make 1477 the year of his birth. However, Titian is believed to have been born in 1487. A glance at the magnificent body of work that he has left behind renders the speculation about the year of his birth a pointless quibble. Titian or Tiziano Vecellio was born in the Alpine village of Pieve di Cadore. He studied under Bellini.
He was deeply influenced by Giorgione with whom Titian led the Arte Moderna movement - endorsing a flexible and freestyle of painting. After the death of Giorgione (1511) and Bellini (1515), Titian ruled as the undisputed master painter in Venice for 60 years.
The style of Titian's youth is marked by Virgins with powerful shoulders and rounded countenances, an extremely refined type of Christ, and allegories exuding a joy of living.
The mature period (1516 - 1530) sees the master freeing himself from the chains of his youth and embarking on a journey peppered with complex subjects and a monumental style - The Entombment is an example of this timeframe. The death of his wife in 1530 sees Titian's work take on another aspect as he devoted himself more and more to the dramatic style.
`David and Goliath' (1540), a penditives uses a perspective from below
This was the time of penditives like David and Goliath presented in perspective from below.
The last 20 years (1550 to 1576) were devoted almost exclusively to portraits. His late works, as art historian Vasari puts it, "are executed with bold sweeping strokes, and in patches of colour with the result that they cannot be viewed from nearby but appear perfect at a distance." Till the end when he was working on awe-inspiring Pieta (a popular theme in the Renaissance) that was intended for his tomb, Titian worked with indefatigable energy. Titian died on August 27, 1576, in Venice.
`Salome' (1515) is representative of Titian's style in his early days as an artist
Supreme in every kind of painting, Titian's free brushwork revolutionised the oil technique. His portraits, says Burckhart, "are eternal forms. Because the motif and the moment, the light, the colour and the form, all were born and grew at the same time in Titian's soul," created the template for portraiture. His influence can be seen in the works of generations of artists including Poussin, Rubens, Anthony Van Dyck, Diego Velazquez, Rembrandt, Goya and Renoir.
It is apt that Lomazzo describes him as the "sun amidst small stars not only among the Italians but all the painters of the world."
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