National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION

Tour: Titian and the Late Renaissance in Venice

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At the dawn of the sixteenth century, the republic of Venice reigned as one of the wealthiest and most powerful city-states in Europe. With the decline of the High Renaissance and mannerist artists in central Italy, Venetian painters assumed a position of artistic supremacy in Europe by 1540 that they would occupy for the rest of the century. The preeminent artist during this period was Tiziano Vecellio, called Titian.

Born around 1490 in the town of Cadore in the Dolomite Mountains, Titian received brief training with the Venetian mosaicist Zuccato before he studied painting with both Giovanni Bellini and the innovative Giorgone. By 1510 he had established himself as an independent master. Following a succession of commissions for the courts of Ferrara, Mantua, and Urbino, Titian's fame spread internationally. His patrons included such prominent figures as the German Emperor Charles V, Philip II of Spain, Francis I of France, and Pope Paul III. After a brilliant career spanning more than sixty-six years, Titian died in 1576.

The portraits and mythological subjects on this tour exhibit the sumptuous colors and rich painterly textures that characterize Titian's style. While his influence is clearly evident in the works of his Venetian contemporaries Tintoretto, Veronese, and Bassano, Titian's work also exerted a strong impact on Rubens, Rembrandt, Velázquez, and other artists of the seventeenth century.

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