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The Sydney J. Freedberg Lecture on Italian Art 2014: Venice 1548: Titian Looking at Tintoretto’s Miracle of the Slave

Miguel Falomir, head curator of Italian and French painting, Museo Nacional del Prado. In December of 1547, when Titian left Venice for Augsburg to meet the imperial court, he was undoubtedly the foremost painter of the Venetian art scene. When he returned a year later, he found the city enamored of the talent of Jacopo Tintoretto, a painter almost 30 years his junior. Tintoretto’s Miracle of the Slave, painted for the Scuola Grande di San Marco, was receiving unanimous praise from an enthusiastic Venetian public—including members of Titian’s own inner circle, such as Pietro Aretino. In this lecture recorded on November 9, 2014, Miguel Falomir analyzes Titian’s reaction to Tintoretto’s challenge, which was unexpected on two fronts: first, because the two painters had previously enjoyed a cordial relationship, and second, because the Miracle of the Slave represented a considerable improvement in the quality of Tintoretto’s painting. Ultimately, the Miracle of the Slave forced Titian, then in his 60s, to update his style in order to compete with a younger generation of artists—something that he was not always able to do successfully. This is the 18th annual lecture offered by the National Gallery of Art in this endowed series named after Sydney J. Freedberg (1914–1997), the great specialist of Italian art, and presented in the centennial year of his birth.