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Titian

Italian Painter

Titian Photo

Born: Between 1488-1490 - Pieve di Cadore, Italy

Died: August 27, 1576 - Venice, Italy

"A good painter needs only three colors: black, white and red"

Summary of Titian

Titian was one of the greatest Renaissance painters, combining High Renaissance and Mannerist ideas to develop a style which was well ahead of his time. He dominated Venetian art with a creativity that allowed the city to rival the previously acknowledged artistic centers of Florence and Rome and he painted some of the most important and eminent personalities of the time including Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, Pope Paul III, Philip II of Spain, and Henry III of France. As well as portraiture, he also painted a range of religious and mythological subjects, sometimes on a vast scale. During a long and prolific career his work developed from traditional Renaissance imagery to increasingly energetic canvases which rejected balanced compositions and replaced them with asymmetry and dynamic subjects. Towards the end of his life, his work became darker and more impressionistic. He had a huge impact on his contemporaries and his canvases can be seen as forerunners of the emotional drama of Baroque art as well as influencing later innovators.

Key Ideas

Titian was most famous for his bold utilization of color, particularly in his earlier work, and he achieved this through seeking out rare pigments and using them in their richest and most saturated form, as well as by carefully balancing each color with those alongside it to create a harmonious overall impression. He also concentrated on the effect of light on color harnessing lighting effects, including chiaroscuro, to emphasize contrasting hues. Through this focus he created the distinction between Venetian and Florentine art, Renaissance artists in Florence and Rome believed that line was paramount, the Venetian Renaissance style was defined by color and led by Titian.
The artist's later work is characterized by loose brush strokes and an expressive application of paint and it is likely that, at times, he used his fingers as well as brushes to apply and blend paint. In painting in this manner, Titian created a fluidity that lent a greater sense of movement and emotion to his work and was unique amongst his peers.
Titian worked almost exclusively in oil, which was a new technique at the start of his career. The medium allowed him to build up a series of glazes to depict the appearance and texture of the human form with an accuracy, delicacy, and softness which was innovative. This realism was particularly relevant in his renderings of female nudes which were unusually sexually suggestive for the period and which seem to reflect Titian's own desires.
Titian Photo

Tiziano Vecellio, known as Titian, was born in Pieve di Cadore, a small village in the Alps, the son of Gregorio Vecellio, a wealthy councillor and captain of the Venetian militia in the region. The exact date of his birth is uncertain, however, modern scholars usually set it between 1488 and 1490 on the basis of Ludovico Dolce's Dialogue of Painting, which states that, at the time of the lost frescoes at the Fondaco dei Tedeschi, Titian was not yet 20 years old. At around the age of ten, he moved to Venice with his elder brother Francesco to take an apprenticeship as a artist. He initially studied mosaic at Sebastiano Zuccato's workshop and was later apprenticed to Gentile Bellini. After Gentile's death, Titian went to work for his brother Giovanni Bellini, one of the most important painters in Venice at the time. Here he met Giorgione, a previous apprentice of Bellini's, who helped Titian develop his early style.

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