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Venice 2014

Titian- the Premier Portraitist of Venice

Portrait of Laura Eustochia (dei Dianti)

Portrait of Laura dei Dianti, called Eustochia

Titian (Tiziano Vecellio), 1520-1525

Collezione H. Kisters, Kreuzlingen

oil on canvas, 119x93 cm

The most popular portraitist in the sixteenth century was Titian. Unlike his contemporaries, Titian breathed a “mysterious sense of a palpitating living presence” and created an approachable and almost tangible figure. [3] Formal elements, such as the sitter’s pose and gaze, as well as aesthetic characteristics such as the background and the costume the sitter is portrayed in, all were carefully chosen to both flatter the sitter and reflect their personality.

Titian revolutionized female portraiture during the sixteenth century. The character and individuality exuded in his portraits of women, especially those done during the 1530s and 1540s, is unprecedented. He managed to combine a flattering image that would please his patron with a powerful portrait that speaks volumes about the sitter’s personality. Titian’s women, unlike those painted by other contemporary artists, are not just flat representations of the virtuous, chaste noblewoman, who is a reflection of her family’s wealth and prestige. Instead, they are individual women who are loved and respected. They form a direct connection with the viewer and seem real enough to hold a conversation with. They can intimidate, judge or dismiss the viewer, but it is clear that Titian intentionally created a dialogue between sitter and viewer in order to convey the sitter’s personality. This individualization of women in portraiture was an entirely new idea and revolutionized female portraiture forever.

[3] John Pope-Hennessy. The Portrait in the Renaissance. (New York: Bollingen Foundation, 1966), 145