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Ranuccio Farnese was 12 years old when Titian painted his portrait. The boy had been sent to Venice by his grandfather, Pope Paul III, to become prior of an important property belonging to the Knights of Malta. As a member of the powerful and aristocratic Farnese family, Ranuccio went on to an illustrious ecclesiastical career. He was made Archbishop of Naples at the age of 14, and he later served as Bishop of Bologna, Archbishop of Milan and Ravenna, and Cardinal Sant'Angelo, dying when he was only 35 years old.

Adult responsibility came to Ranuccio when still a child, as Titian so brilliantly conveyed through the cloak of office, too large and heavy, sliding off the youth's small shoulders. The boy in the role of the man is what gives this characterization such poignancy.

Portraits by Titian were in great demand, distinguished as they were for their remarkable insight into character and their brilliant technique. Nowhere is the painter's genius more in evidence than in this image. Limiting his palette to black, white, and rose, Titian enlivened the surface with light: the dull gleam rippling over the sleeves of the velvet cloak; the fitful pattern flickering across the slashed doublet; and the changing reflections on the satin Maltese Cross.


center right: TITIANVS / .f.


Farnese family, Parma, by 1644;[1] Farnese family, Palazzo del Giardino, Parma, by 1680;[2] Farnese family, Palazzo della Pilotta, Parma, by 1708;[3] by inheritance 1734 to the Bourbon collection, Naples;[4] Bourbon collection, Palazzo di Capodimonte, Naples, by 1765;[5] Bourbon collection, Palazzo Francavilla, Naples, by 1802;[6] Bourbon collection, Palazzo degli Studi, Naples, by 1816.[7] brought from Naples to London by Sir George Donaldson [1845-1925], London;[8] sold May 1880 to Sir John Charles Robinson [1824-1913], London; sold to Sir Francis Cook, 1st bt. [1817-1901], Doughty House, Richmond, Surrey, by 1885;[9] by inheritance to his son, Sir Frederick Lucas Cook, 2nd bt. [1844-1920], Doughty House; by inheritance to his son, Sir Herbert Frederick Cook, 3rd bt. [1868-1939], Doughty House; by inheritance to his son, Sir Francis Ferdinand Maurice Cook, 4th bt. [1907-1978], Doughty House, and Cothay Manor, Somerset; sold June or July 1947 to (Gualtiero Volterra, London) for (Count Alessandro Contini-Bonacossi, Florence);[10] sold July 1948 to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York;[11] gift 1952 to NGA.

Exhibition History
Zapadnoevropeiskaia i Amerikanskaia zhivopis is muzeev ssha [West European and American Painting from the Museums of USA], State Hermitage Museum, Leningrad; State Pushkin Museum, Moscow; State Museums, Kiev and Minsk, 1976, unpaginated and unnumbered catalogue.
The Genius of Venice 1500-1600, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1983-1984, no. 121, repro.
Tiziano [NGA title: Titian: Prince of Painters], Palazzo Ducale, Venice; National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1990-1991, no. 33, repro.
A Gift to America: Masterpieces of European Painting from the Samuel H. Kress Collection, four venues, 1994-1995, no. 2, repro. (shown only at first two venues: North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston).
I Farnese: Arte e Collezionismo, Palazzo Ducale di Colorno, Parma; Haus der Kunst, Munich; Galleria Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples, 1995-1996, no. 26, repro. (shown only in Munich and Naples).
Titian, The National Gallery, London; Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2003, no. 25 (English catalogue), no. 22 (Spanish catalogue), repros.
Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Musée du Louvre, Paris, 2009-2010, no. 42 (English catalogue), no. 43 (French catalogue), repros.
Tiziano, Scuderie del Quirinale, Rome, 2013, no. 22, repro.
Loan to display with permanent collection, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, 2015-2016.
Descrizione per Alfabetto di cento Quadri de’ più famosi, e dipinti da i più insigni pittori del modo, che si osservano nella Galleria Farnese di Parma... Parma[?], 1725: 46.
La Lande, Jérôme de. Voyage d’un français en Italie fait dans les années 1765 et 1766. 8 vols. Paris, 1769: 6:174.
Sigismondo, Giuseppe. Descrizione della città di Napoli e suoi borghi. 3 vols. Naples, 1788-1789: 3(1789):48.
Ronchini, Amadeo. “Delle relazioni di Tiziano coi Farnesi.” Atti e Memorie delle RR
Deputazioni di Storia Patria per le Provincie Modenesi e Parmensi
2 (1864):129-130, 145.
Campori, Giuseppe. Raccolta di Cataloghi ed Inventarii Inediti. Modena, 1870: 239.
Crowe, Joseph Archer, and Giovanni Battista Cavalcaselle. Titian, His Life and Times. 2 vols. London, 1877: 2:75-79.
Robinson, John Charles. “The Gallery of Pictures of Old Masters, formed by Francis Cook, Esq., of Richmond.” The Art Journal (1885): 134, 136.
Cust, Lionel. A Description of the Sketch-book by Sir Anthony Van Dyck. London, 1902: 22-23.
Filangieri di Candida, A. “La galleria nazionale di Napoli.” Le Gallerie Nazionali Italiane 5 (1902): 216, 229, 269, 275.
Cook, Francis. Abridged Catalogue of the Pictures at Doughty House, Richmond, Belonging to Sir Frederick Cook, Bart., M.P., Visconde de Monserrate. London, 1903: 20.
Gronau, Georg. Titian. London, 1904: 133.
Cook, Herbert. “La collection de Sir Frederick Cook, Visconde de Monserrate.” Les Arts no. 44 (August 1905): 5-6.
Reinach, Salomon. Répertoire de peintures du moyen âge et de la Renaissance (1280-1580). 6 vols. Paris, 1905-1923: 6(1923):245.
Gronau, Georg. “Zwei Tizianische Bildnisse der Berliner Galerie.” Jahrbuch der Königlich Preussischen Kunstsammlungen 27 (1906): 3-7.
Fischel, Oskar. Tizian: Des Meisters Gemälde. 3rd ed. Stuttgart and Leipzig, 1907: 99, 236.
Ricketts, Charles. Titian. London, 1910: 107 n. 1.
Borenius, Tancred. A Catalogue of the Paintings at Doughty House, Richmond, and elsewhere in the Collection of Sir Frederick Cook Bt. Italian Schools. Vol. I, Pt. 2. Edited by Herbert Cook. London, 1913: 170.
Mayer, August L. “Fulvio Orsini, ein Gönner des jungen Greco.” Zeitschrift für Bildende Kunst 32 (1921): 119.
Waterhouse, Ellis K. "El Greco's Italian Period." Art Studies 8 (1930): 70-71, 85.
Berenson, Bernard. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: A List of the Principal Artists and their Works with an Index of Places. Oxford, 1932: 574.
Brockwell, Maurice W. Abridged Catalogue of the Pictures at Doughty House, Richmond, Surrey, in the Collection of Sir Herbert Cook. London, 1932: 68-69.
Suida, Wilhelm. Tizian. Zürich and Leipzig, 1933: 89-90, 103, 165.
Berenson, Bernard. Pitture italiane del rinascimento: catalogo dei principali artisti e delle loro opere con un indice dei luoghi. Translated by Emilio Cecchi. Milan, 1936: 494.
Tietze, Hans. Tizian: Leben und Werk. 2 vols. Vienna, 1936: 1:174, 307.
Kelly, Francis M. “Note on an Italian Portrait at Doughty House.” The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 75 (August 1939): 75-77.
Adriani, Gert. Anton Van Dyck, Italienisches Skizzenbuch. Vienna, 1940: 69.
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Tietze, Hans. Titian. The Paintings and Drawings. London, 1950: 39, 391.
King, Marian. Portfolio Number 3. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1951: no. 3, color repro.
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Suida, Wilhelm. “Miscellanea Tizianesca.” Arte Veneta 6 (1952): 38-40.
Pallucchini, Rodolfo. Tiziano. Lezioni di storia dell’arte. 2 vols. Bologna, 1953-1954: 1:209, 212; 2:11, 16.
Dell’Acqua, Gian Alberto. Tiziano. Milan, 1955: 123.
Berenson, Bernard. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Venetian School. 2 vols. London, 1957: 1:192.
Kress 1957, 191, repro.
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Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds., Treasures from the National Gallery of Art, New York, 1962: 32, color repro.
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Meller, Peter. “Il lessico ritrattistico di Tiziano.” In Tiziano e Venezia: Convegno internazionale di studi (1976). Vicenza, 1980: 332.
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Bertini, Giuseppe. La Galleria del Duca di Parma. Storia di una Collezione. Bologna, 1987: 41, 57, 62, 89.
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Freedman, Luba. “Titian’s Portrait of Clarissa Strozzi: The State Portrait of a Child.” Jahrbuch der Berliner Museen 39 (1989): 177.
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Titian, Prince of Painters. Exh. cat. Palazzo Ducale, Venice; National Gallery of Art, Washington. Venice, 1990: 244.
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