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Life of Tiziano Vecellio – Biography and works. Tiziano Vecellio, one of the greatest masters of the Renaissance, was an Italian painter who revolutionized the art of portraiture and sacred painting. Known for his mastery of color representation and the creation of subtle shades, he painted some of the most famous masterpieces in art history. In this article, we will explore the life and work of Titian, discovering the secrets of his timeless art.
Tiziano Vecellio, known simply as Titian, was born in 1490 in Pieve di Cadore into a family of notables. He is considered the greatest Venetian painter of the 16th century and is responsible for the Venetian tradition of color. His works are recognizable by the flow of lines and the relaxing nature of his paintings, many of which were portraits.
It is evident from the whole of his painting that the artist, in a certain sense, “rejected” Venice, the spectacular city to which he had descended as a boy from his Cadore valley, which had made it possible for him, as soon as he was twenty, to compete with a famous painter like Giorgione frescoing one of the facades of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi. While still young, he achieved glory by placing in the Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari (where I was later buried) two of his greatest and most famous masterpieces, The Assumption and the Sacred Conversation, commissioned by Jacopo Pesaro.
He rejected, so to speak, the city of his adoption, as he refrained from representing it by placing among the city architecture the figures, the events, and the scenes that his imagination inexhaustibly created, contrary to what many other Venetian painters do and have done and will do. Starting with Carpaccio. The marvelous beauty of Venice, its palaces, churches, monuments, and the entire architectural-urban complex wrapped in white marble lace does not interest him, or at least he considers it less suggestive than a landscape piece.
Even the choice of where to live and work confirms his instinct to escape into free nature, away from the tangle of crowded and talkative streets. As soon as he could, when he felt economically settled, in 1531, he moved from San Samuele to the house in Biri Grande in the district of San Canciano on the edge of the city, where on days when the weather was clear (there weren’t yet the industries of Marghera) he could enjoy the view of distant mountains as far as Antelao.
Not that, with this, the legend of an irreducibly “mountainous” Titian remains credible even at the court of Ferrara with Alfonso d’Este, or at that of Pope Paul III during his conversations with Bembo and with Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, or in Augusta occupied to portray Charles V and Prince Philip. Rather, the truth remains of a Titian annoyed by the enormous building increase in Venice, which in 1563 reached its highest demographic peak of all time with 169,000 inhabitants.
That annoyance that the artist translated with the exclusion of the apparent “image of the city”; and when, as in the Presentation of Mary in the Temple, an architecture, however not at all typically “Venetian,” had to enter it, this was compensated for by showing the Cadore mountains in the background between two buildings.
In short, Venice was not the backdrop for the works of its great artist. Still, Titian had, in any case, the ability to capture the personality and physical characteristics of his “human” subjects, often very important figures of his era. At about fifteen, he entered Gentile Bellini’s workshop. But the latter’s brother Giovanni Bellini inspired and instilled in him the importance of color over technique. In these formative years, he also met Giorgione, who finds himself between the chiaroscuro of Leonardo Da Vinci and the shimmering color of Giovanni Bellini.
Both began working together and painted outdoor frescoes on behalf of the city. In 1516, Giovanni Bellini died, and Titian inherited his title: “official painter of the Republic of Venice.” He continued his ascent. The death of his wife in 1530 transformed his vision of the female physique into a slender and slender body. In 1545, Paul III offered him Roman citizenship, and the comparison with Michelangelo’s works led once again to the evolution of his painting. In 1548, he painted a series of portraits of Charles V and began his “Poetry” series of mythological female nudes for King Philip II. Titian died of the plague on August 27, 1576.
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Official painter of Venice
Tiziano painted three frescoes for the Scuola di Sant’Antonio in Padua, a city he visited in 1511. In 1516, on the death of Giovani Bellini, he was appointed his official successor by the Venetian Republic and established a studio on the Grand Canal at San Samuele. Many contemporary artists have passed through it, including Tintoretto and El Greco. In 1520 he executed an important commission for the decoration of the Doge’s Palace, The Battle of Cadore (a large fresco destroyed in a fire in 1577), and three paintings of mythological scenes for Alfonso I d’Este. He was also commissioned to make all the portraits of subsequent Doges until 1555 when the job fell to Tintoretto. He also received numerous commissions for Venetian notables and churches in the city.
Three years later, during a trip to Ferrara, Titian met Federico II Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua, whom he portrayed and for whom he worked for over ten years, decorating the castle of Ferrara with mythological frescoes. At the end of 1522, he went to Mantua, where he met the Gonzagas, who commissioned him about forty paintings, and made friends with Aretino and Sansovino, who had taken refuge in Venice after the sack of Rome.
Tiziano: From 1525 to 1545
In 1525 Titian married Cecilia Soldano, daughter of a barber, who had already given him two sons: Pomponio in 1523 and Orazio, shortly before the wedding. In 1530 his wife gave birth to a daughter (Lavinia), and a few months later, she died. It is unknown whether she remarried, but in any case, the 1530s were for Titian, those of a new female canon. Smaller and more slender women such as La Bella (Florence, Palazzo Pitti), Maria Maddalena (Florence, Palazzo Pitti), or The Venus of Urbino (Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi). The latter work, created for Guidobaldo della Rovere in 1538, is inspired by Giorgione’s Sleeping Venus, depicting a naked woman on a bed in a room. A symbolic work of his career, it is the prototype of the female nude indoors for European painting, which inspired Édouard Manet for his Olympia.
In the same year, 1530, Titian met, through Federico Gonzaga, Charles V, on the occasion of a trip by the emperor to Italy. Three years later, Charles V awarded him the title of Count Palatine and Knight of the Golden Spur, an unprecedented honor for a painter. He will paint a series of portraits of relatives of the emperor.
In 1545 he went to Rome at the invitation of Pope Paul III. On March 16, having obtained Roman citizenship, he returned to Venice. The direct comparison with Michelangelo’s works greatly influenced his career, which experienced a “mannerist crisis” marked by more audacious compositions and colors with strong contrasting effects.
In 1548 Titian went to Augsburg, where the Diet of the Holy Roman Empire was held, presided over by Charles V. It was an occasion to paint many portraits of notables and the emperor himself. From here on, he began work on his Poetry series for King Philip II. These paintings, which represented mythological nudes, such as Danae, Venus, and Adonis or Diana and Actaeon, initiate Titian’s last phase, characterized by a much less graphic and freer touch, where the finished canvases even show the action of the brush on the canvas; it is even said that Titian painted some of his paintings with his fingers at the end of his life.
He was elected with Andrea Palladio and Jacopo Tintoretto to the Florence Academy of Drawing in 1566. His last known painting is a Pietà, which he intended to decorate his tomb: unfinished at his death, Palma il Giovane will finish the work.
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