Article

Titian

Tom Nichols

in Renaissance and Reformation

ISBN: 9780195399301
Published online August 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0128
Titian

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)
  • Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy

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Titian (Tiziano Vecellio, b. c. 1488–d. 1576) was born in the remote mountain village of Pieve di Cadore but worked in Venice. He quickly became the dominant painter in the city, and by the end of his long career he was the most famous and wealthy artist in Europe. His oil paintings (particularly his portraits) were much loved and sought after by courtly and aristocratic patrons in many countries and had a major impact on leading Baroque painters, such as Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony Van Dyck, and Diego Velasquez. On a critical level, however, idealist art theorists considered them too naturalistic and thus as less perfect in design (disegno) than Italian works from Florence and Rome. It was only toward the end of the 18th century, as cultural values shifted, that Titian’s paintings began to be taken seriously again as works of art. Under the impact of Romanticism and then modernism, Titian’s works were rapidly rehabilitated, their intense naturalism and masterly freedom of brushwork serving as a model for the newly individualistic cultural values. Interest in every aspect of Titian’s life and work quickly burgeoned: archival documents were gathered and published, and a newly historical image of Titian emerged. From the mid-20th century onward, attention shifted from a presiding concern with artistic form toward context, with new attention paid to Titian’s patterns of patronage; to his subject matter (literary and philosophical sources), materials, and techniques; and to the audience and critical reception of his paintings. More recently still scholars have intensified this kind of contextual understanding, focusing less on Titian as an individual genius and more on his place within wider cultural webs of material practice and meaning.

Article.  11932 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy

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