Andrea de’ Franceschi pursued a highly successful career in the civil service, ultimately rising to become grand chancellor of Venice. This office, which was the highest attainable to any Venetian from a nonnoble family, was held for life. In rank it was senior to that of senator, and it was junior only to that of doge and procurator of San Marco.
A 17th-century biographer of Titian noted that De’ Franceschi was a close friend of the painter. De’ Franceschi’s will, dated 1535, mentions that at the time he owned two portraits of himself by Titian. Evidence indicates that this painting was not one of them, as the style is difficult to reconcile with that of Titian. The handling of paint is harsher and cruder, and the colors are less subtly modulated. Also, scientific analysis of the present portrait reveals no underdrawing or alterations that would suggest it is an original composition. The work is most likely a copy either of a version of the composition now in the Detroit Institute of Arts, or of another close version of it. The Gallery’s painting has been cut along the bottom; originally, the sitter may have been depicted holding a letter, as he does in other versions of this portrait.
The portrait is known in two other main versions, respectively in the Detroit Institute of Arts
Critics have not always agreed about the relative merits of the various versions. The Royal Collection group portrait was generally accepted as an autograph painting by Titian until it was demoted by Joseph Archer Crowe and Giovanni Battista Cavalcaselle in 1877,
The sitter was first identified, with respect to the Royal Collection picture, as Andrea de’ Franceschi, grand chancellor of Venice, by Anna Jameson, on the basis of an engraved portrait after Titian.
Poglayen-Neuwall also provided basic biographical information about Andrea de’ Franceschi (1473–1552),
A particularly valuable document for Andrea de’ Franceschi’s biography is provided by his will, drawn up in 1535.
Holmes proposed a reading of the truncated inscription ( . . . TIS/ . . . OIX) on the present portrait as AETATIS ANNO LX, suggesting that the penultimate letter has been reduced from an L to an I by abrasion.
This attractive interpretation of the documentary and orthographic evidence is not, however, borne out by the style of the present portrait, which is difficult to reconcile with that of Titian in the early 1530s. As indicated above, the handling is harsher and cruder than that of Titian at any date, as is evident not only in the treatment of the head, but also in the change of the color of the gown from a subtly modulated crimson to a crude scarlet. Indeed, although a majority of recent scholars have accepted it as a product of Titian’s workshop, the more severe verdict by Shapley—that it was painted independently of the master’s supervision, perhaps even after his death—remains more convincing.
March 21, 2019
upper left on tablet: ...TIS/...OIX
("Anthony," London); purchased before 1859 by Francis Richard Charteris, Lord Elcho [1818-1914, from 1883 the 10th earl of Wemyss], London, and Gosford House, Lothian, Scotland; by inheritance to his son, Hugo Richard Charteris, 11th earl of Wemyss [1857-1937], Gosford House, until 1927; (Wildenstein & Co., New York); sold 1928 to (M. Knoedler & Co., New York); purchased January 1928 by Andrew W. Mellon, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.; deeded 28 December 1934 to The A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh; gift 1937 to NGA.
Associated NamesCharteris, 10th earl of Wemyss, Francis Richard
Charteris, Francis, de jure 7th earl of Wemyss
Charteris, Hugo Richard 11th earl of Wemyss
Charteris-Douglas, 9th earl of Wemyss, Francis
Charteris-Wemyss-Douglas, 8th earl of Wemyss, Francis
Knoedler & Company, M.
Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, The A.W.
Mellon, Andrew W.
Wildenstein & Co., Inc.
- Pictures by Italian, Spanish, Flemish, Dutch, French, and English Masters, British Institution, London, 1859, no. 40, as Head of a Man by Titian.
The painting was executed on a coarse, plain-weave fabric. It has been lined, and the tacking edges are no longer extant. Comparison with the version of the composition in Detroit, together with the fragmentary character of the inscription, suggests that the painted surface has been reduced along the right, left, and bottom edges. This supposition is confirmed by the fact that cusping of the original fabric is absent along those three tacked edges but is present along the top edge. The support was prepared with a thin, white ground. Infrared reflectography (Vidicon)
Peter Humfrey and Joanna Dunn based on the examination report by Susanna Griswold
March 21, 2019
- Catalogue of Pictures by Italian, Spanish, Flemish, Dutch, French, and English Masters with which the Proprietors have favored the Institution. Exh. cat. British Institution, London, 1859: 9, no. 40.
- Crowe, Joseph Archer, and Giovanni Battista Cavalcaselle. Titian, His Life and Times. 2 vols. London, 1877: 2:64-65.
- Berenson, Bernard. “While on Tintoretto.” In Festschrift für Max J. Friedländer zum 60. Geburtstage. Leipzig, 1927: 231-235.
- Holmes, Charles. “The Inscription upon Titian’s Portrait of Franceschi.” The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 55 (1929): 159-160.
- Berenson, Bernard. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: A List of the Principal Artists and Their Works with an Index of Places. Oxford, 1932: 577.
- Suida, Wilhelm. Tizian. Zürich and Leipzig, 1933: 164.
- 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: 496.
- Tietze, Hans. Titian: Paintings and Drawings. Vienna, 1937: 320.
- Preliminary Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1941: 196, no. 35, as by Titian.
- Book of Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1942: 240, repro. 200, as by Titian.
- Riggs, Arthur Stanley. Titian the Magnificent and the Venice of His Day. New York, 1946: 133.
- Berenson, Bernard. “Ristudiando Tintoretto e Tiziano.” Arte Veneta 1 (1947): 29-30.
- Paintings and Sculpture from the Mellon Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1949 (reprinted 1953 and 1958): 37, repro., as by Titian.
- Tietze, Hans. Titian. The Paintings and Drawings. London, 1950: 403.
- Pallucchini, Rodolfo. Tiziano. Lezioni di storia dell’arte. 2 vols. Bologna, 1953-1954: 1:174.
- Catalogue of the Paintings and Sculptures given by E. B. Whitcomb and A. S. Whitcomb to the Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1954: 107.
- Suida, Wilhelm. “Miscellanea Tizianesca, II.” Arte Veneta 10 (1956): 76.
- Berenson, Bernard. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Venetian School. 2 vols. London, 1957: 1:192.
- Gore, St. John. “Five Portraits.” The Burlington Magazine 100 (1958): 352.
- Valcanover, Francesco. Tutta la pittura di Tiziano. 2 vols. Milan, 1960: 1:101 no. 214a.
- Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 129, as by Titian.
- Troche, Gunter. “Venetian Paintings of the Renaissance at the M. H. De Young Memorial Museum.” Art Quarterly 28 (1965): 98.
- National Gallery of Art. European Paintings and Sculpture: Illustrations. Washington, 1968: 117, repro., as by Titian.
- Pallucchini, Rodolfo. Tiziano. 2 vols. Florence, 1969: 1:78-79, 266.
- Valcanover, Francesco. L’opera completa di Tiziano. Milan, 1969: 107.
- Wethey, Harold. The Paintings of Titian. 3 vols. London, 1969-1975: 2(1971):101.
- Fredericksen, Burton B., and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972: 203, 513, 645.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 344, repro.
- Shapley, Fern Rusk. Catalogue of the Italian Paintings. 2 vols. Washington, 1979: 1:506-508; 2:pl. 355, as After Titian.
- Fasolo, Ugo. Titian. Florence, 1980: 39-41.
- Shearman, John. The Early Italian Pictures in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen. Cambridge, 1983: 268, 271.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 398, repro.
- Magani, Fabrizio. Il collezionismo e la commitenza artistica della famiglia Widmann, patrizi veneziani, dal Seicento all'Ottocento. Memorie dell’Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, vol. 41. Venice, 1989: 42.
- Hochmann, Michel. Peintres et commanditaires à Venise (1540–1628). Rome, 1992: 356-358.
- Pedrocco, Filippo. Titian: The Complete Paintings. New York, 2001: 152.
- Weigel, Thomas. “Begräbniszeremoniell und Grabmäler venezianischer Grosskanzler des 16. Jahrhunderts.” In Praemium Virtutis: Grabmonumente und Begräbniszeremoniell im Zeichen des Humanismus. Edited by Joachim Poeschke, Britta Kusch, and Thomas Weigel. Münster, 2002: 148.
- Humfrey, Peter. Titian: The Complete Paintings. Ghent and New York, 2007: 149.
- Howard, Deborah. “Titian’s portraits of Grand Chancellor Andrea de’ Franceschi.” Artibus et Historiae 37, no. 74 (2016): 139-151.