The History of Art And The Curious Lives of Famous Painters


Titian aka Tiziano Vecelli


The greatest 16th-century Venetian Mythological Painter of All Time

Italian  High Renaissance Painter of the Venetian School

Artistically and stylistically influenced by the following painters - Lorenzo Lotto,  Giorgione,  Bellini,  and Giorgione

Education -  apprenticed to Sebastiano Zuccato and later studied under Gentile Bellini and Giovanni Bellini 

Cause of Death - Plague

technique -   oil  on linen or oak panel



 "At the time he first began to paint like Giorgione, when he was no more than eighteen, Titian did a portrait of a friend of his, a gentleman of the Barberigo family, which was held to be extremely fine especially the stitches in a doublet of silvered satin." -- Giorgio Vasari , The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects, published in 1550


Titian, the mighty king of  Venetian painting did not grow up in Venice itself, not even in the neighboring plain, but in the distant village of Pieve di Cadore near the Austrian Alps. He spent his early years in the midst of solemn pine woods and mighty mountain walls. This alone gave his personality a different character. The house in which he was born lies at the uttermost end of the village, where the hill begins and the Pieve river roars down from the storm capped heights. He heard the wind sweep through the mighty tree-tops and rattle the joints of the houses; he saw uprooted stones crush against the shore, and the rain pour down the from the black storm-clouds. So he was the first to associate wit the quiet repose and the tender lyricism of Venetian painting a dramatic and impassioned element. -Richard Muther, The History of  Painting, Henry and Co., London, 1896

Titian's  Martyrdom of St. Peter Martyr altarpiece is a wild and stormy painting . The figure of the saint is muscular and powerful ; that of the murder bending over him is wild and colossal; their garments rustle and the tree-tops bend in the wind. -Richard Muther, The History of  Painting, Henry and Co., London, 1896

His Assumption of the Virgin (Assunta). 1516-1518, Mary as if drawn by a celestial magnet, her mighty arms outstretched, ascends towards heaven. Her dark hair flutters in the wind, the folds of her garments swell grandiosely, and a roar like the moving of angels wings of the archangels soundly through the air; astonished, the apostles stretch their arms upward. -Richard Muther, The History of  Painting, Henry and Co., London, 1896


According to art historian Clara Erskine Clement "As a child he was fond of drawing, and so anxious to color his pictures that he squeezed the juices from certain flowers, and used them as paints. When but nine years old he was taken to Venice to study, and from this time was called a Venetian; he is said by some writers to be the first portrait-painter of the world.

He first studied under Sebastian Zuccato, and then under the Bellini, where he was a fellow-pupil with Giorgione, and the two became devoted friends, at the time when they were just coming to be men and were filled with glad hopes of future greatness. After a time, when Titian was about thirty years old, the two were employed on the “Fondaco dei Tedeschi,” or the exchange for German merchants in Venice. Here the frescoes of Titian were more admired than those of Giorgione, and the latter became so jealous that they ceased to live together, as they had done, and there is cause for believing that they were never good friends again. But after the early death of Giorgione, Titian completed the works he had left unfinished, and, no doubt, sincerely mourned for him.

One of the most celebrated pictures by Titian is the Presentation in the Temple, which was painted for the Church of the Brotherhood of Charity, called in Italian “La Scuola della Carità;” this church is now the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice, where the picture still remains. It represents the Virgin Mary when three years old entering the temple and the high priest receiving her at the entrance. All around below the steps is a company of friends who have been invited by her father and mother to attend them on this important occasion. The picture is full of life and action, and is gorgeous in its coloring. Several of the figures are said to be portraits, one being that of Titian himself."



In the Church of S. Maria Gloriosa dei Frari , the most important Venice church after the Basilica of St. Mark's, is Titians exquisite Pesaro Madonna (1518). It is in this masterpiece that one first  recognizes the dramatic action which Titian brought to Venetian art. Mary sits; not in the center of the painting, nor even in full-face, as Byzantine tradition demanded.  The principles of composition of the past are deserted; the lines are not arranged in regular architectonic order; a composition which reckons only colored masses takes the place of  regular arrangements. True, this one characteristic is not determinative for Titians art. Although his mountain origin explains a great deal in which he differs from the more naturalized Venetians, he nevertheless came to Venice as a young man. For this reason his art does not always remind of the summits of the dolomite Alps, but more often of the quiet mirror lagoons. -Richard Muther, The History of  Painting, Henry and Co., London, 1896

Titians biographers have made every effort to identify the regions of his landscapes; for Titians landscapes, true in detail and inspired by the scenery of his home, are never strict copies of nature. The blue tone of sky is deeper, the brown of the leaves warmer, and the light of the sun more luminous. He created a awe-inspiring world, superior to the earthly world in the nobility, because as a landscape painter he depicted not nature but himself. By reason of this lofty style he has become the painter of the heroic landscape, the predecessor to Poussinand Claude. His name was so firmly established that the age of classicism, the epoch of Winckelmann, still called him the Homer of the landscape. -Richard Muther, The History of  Painting, Henry and Co., London, 1896

That Titian did not become a turbulent dramatists is, aside from the conditions of the time, the result of the course of his life. Never had an artist had a more calculated career; never did one understand better how to shape life into a work of art. His whole existence was wholly dedicated to becoming the wealthiest, most powerful  artist of the western world. By his shrewd and calculating nature he was able to live  a life without want or mighty struggles, without misfortune.  As early as 1516, Titian, receiving the legacy of his master Bellini, was appointed the official painter of Venice, and his course of fortune, a lifelong triumphal procession, began. In 1520 he appeared at the zenith of his fame; no meteor, but a quiet gleaming star, which, gradually but constantly ascending and in a slow course without diminution of power, brightens the heavens.

Titian known to be astute and conservative in his  business transactions used his official painter status to amass a fortune. The mightiest princes of Europe loaded him with commissions and honors: Charles V., summoned him to the royal court at Bologna and Augsburg, offering him erotic favors with  his favorite mistresses as well as the run of the royal studios. Pope Paul III., and Francis I. of France vied for his artistic talents.  "All princes, learned men, and distinguished persons who came to Venice visited titian," relates Vasari; for "not  only in his art was he great, but he was a nobleman in person."

Renaissance Art Techniques and Key Descriptive Words  and Phrases associated with the Renaissance Movement rebirth, rediscovery of the classical world, City-state, Humanism, Humanist, Francesco Petrarch, Reform, The Prince, Theocracy, The Inquisition, Human Reasoning,  publication of Della Pittura, a book about the laws of mathematical perspective for artists, sfumato, chiaroscuro, linear perspectiveHeliocentric Theory, vanishing point, Savonarola, spiritually significant,  illuminated manuscriptidealized biblical themes, scriptorium, emotion, illuminator,  Age of Discovery, axonometric drawing, curiosity about the natural world, mythology,  realistic use of colours and lightBonfire of the Vanities, Old Testament stories, ethereal and foggy backgrounds, Gospel parables, The Blackdeath, romanticized landscapes,  Christian symbolism, Italian scholar Petrarch

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References - A History of Art for Beginners and Students: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture: Painting, by Clara Erskine Clement

Major Painters of the Italian High Renaissance

Andrea del Sarto
Mariotto Albertinelli
Fra Bartolommeo
Jacopo Bassano
Giovanni Bellini 
Domenico Brusasorci
Giulio Campi
Domenico Di Michelino
Lorenzo Costa
Dosso Dossi
Francesco Francia
Ridolfo Ghirlandaio
Leonardo da Vinci
Lorenzo Lotto
Bernardino Luini
Michelangelo Buonarroti
Baldassare Peruzzi
Piero di Cosimo
Jacob Tintoretto
Marcantonio Raimondi