Vincenzo Cappello stands in full armor, grasping the baton of command, in this portrait designed to express the authority of a venerable military leader who had passed a lifetime in the faithful service of the Venetian state. Cappello was a member of a Venetian patrician family, several of whose members pursued distinguished careers in the navy. Vincenzo’s authority as a naval commander brought him political honors and responsibilities: he was knighted by Henry VII of England, nominated as ambassador to the papal court, and served as procurator of San Marco (the second-highest lifetime appointment in the Republic, under the doge).
Cappello’s celebrity as a military commander led to a demand for painted portraits of him both before and after his death in 1541. A number of artists met that demand. This Titian composition is preserved in at least four other contemporary versions or copies. Of these extant versions, the Gallery’s picture is now generally accepted as the earliest and the finest. Titian’s design changes can be seen in x-radiographs of the painting’s underlayers, indicating that the Gallery’s picture precedes the other known versions. Historic documentation and the painting’s broad brushwork suggest that it was executed in the 1550s. Titian was likely to have been aided in this task by his workshop, which would then have been entirely responsible for subsequent versions of the composition.
This portrait is known in at least four other contemporary versions or copies: in the Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, Virginia
Published by Wilhelm Suida, Tizian (Zurich and Leipzig, 1933), 81–82, 160–161, 184, pl. 143, when in the Schnackenberg collection, Munich; sold Sotheby’s, London, Nov. 28, 1956, no. 19 (with confused provenance).
Formerly in the Stroganoff collection, Saint Petersburg; see Tamara Fomichova, The Hermitage Catalogue of West European Painting, Vol. 2: Venetian Painting of the Fourteenth to Eighteenth Centuries (Florence, 1992), 348–349.
See Edoardo Arslan, Inventario degli oggetti d’arte d’Italia, Vol. 7: Provincia di Padova (Rome, 1936), 172, as a copy by Palma Giovane after the Hermitage picture; Stefania Mason Rinaldi, Palma il Giovane: L’opera completa (Milan, 1984), 171, as a copy after the present picture.
Formerly in the Dunmore and Allendale collections. See Peter Humfrey, in The Age of Titian: Venetian Renaissance Art from Scottish Collections, ed. Aidan Weston-Lewis (Edinburgh, 2004), 124, 432 n. 6; and A. Perissa Torrini, in Titien: Le pouvoir en face (Milan, 2006), 136 (with an attribution to Tintoretto).
John Shearman, The Early Italian Pictures in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen (Cambridge, 1983), 270.
Victor Lasareff, “Ein Bildnis des Vincenzo Capello von Tintoretto,” Jahrbuch der Preussischen Kunstsammlungen 44 (1923): 172–177.
Rodolfo Pallucchini, Tiziano (Florence, 1969), 1:90; William R. Rearick, in Venezia da stato a mito (Venice, 1997), 335–336. Other critics who have attributed it to Tintoretto include Bernard Berenson, The Venetian Painters of the Renaissance (New York and London, 1894), 136; Bernard Berenson, The Venetian Painters of the Renaissance, 3rd ed. (New York and London, 1906), 136, but no longer in the editions of 1932 or 1957; Henry Thode, Tintoretto (Bielefeld, 1901), 80; Ettore Camesasca, ed., Lettere sull’arte di Pietro Aretino, comm. Fidenzio Pertile (Milan, 1960), 3:489; Antonio Morassi, “Titian,” in Encyclopedia of World Art (London, 1967), 14: col. 139 (as School of Tintoretto); and Stefania Mason Rinaldi, “Tiziano nelle collezioni scozzesi: Note in margine alla mostra di Edimburgo,” Studi Tizianeschi 3 (2005): 85. Francesco Valcanover, in 1960 and 1969, implied doubt that it is by Titian, and both Valcanover (1999) and Filippo Pedrocco (2001) omitted it from their catalogs of his works. See Francesco Valcanover, Tutta la pittura di Tiziano (Milan, 1960), 1:102; Francesco Valcanover, L’opera completa di Tiziano (Milan, 1969), 141, no. 631; Francesco Valcanover, Tiziano: I suoi pennelli sempre partorirono espressioni di vita (Florence, 1999); and Filippo Pedrocco, Titian: The Complete Paintings (New York, 2001).
Wilhelm Suida, Tizian (Zurich and Leipzig, 1933), 81–82; Fern Rusk Shapley, Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: Italian Schools, XV–XVI Century (London, 1968), 181–182; Harold Wethey, The Paintings of Titian (London, 1971), 2:83–84.
Ettore Camesasca, ed., Lettere sull’arte di Pietro Aretino, comm. Fidenzio Pertile (Milan, 1957), 1:CIX, 177–178.
Vincenzo di Niccolò Cappello (1469–1541) was a member of a Venetian patrician family, several of whose members pursued distinguished careers in the navy.
For Cappello’s biography, see Achille Olivieri, “Vincenzo Cappello,” in Dizionario biografico degli italiani, ed. Alberto Maria Ghisalberti (Rome, 1975), 18:827–830.
Domenico’s statue is usually dated to soon after Cappello’s death in 1541, but as pointed out by Martin, it could equally date from the 1550s or later. See Thomas Martin, Alessandro Vittoria and the Portrait Bust in Renaissance Venice (Oxford, 1998), 40 n. 55.
Cappello’s celebrity as a military commander led to a demand for painted portraits of him, from both within and beyond Venice. In 1560, for example, the magistracy of the Procuratia de Supra paid for a portrait for its office in the Piazza di San Marco, a work that was still recorded there by Fulgenzio Manfredi in 1602 and Giovanni Stringa in 1604.
For the documented portrait commission in 1560, see Wilhelm von Bode, Georg Gronau, and Detlev von Hadeln, Archivalische Beiträge zur Geschichte der venezianischen Kunst aus dem Nachlass Gustav Ludwigs (Berlin, 1911), 128. It is recorded in the second room of the Procuratia de Supra by Fulgenzio Manfredi, Dignità Procuratoria di San Marco di Venetia (Venice, 1602); and Giovanni Stringa, in Francesco Sansovino, Venetia città nobilissima et singolare (1581) . . . et hora con molta dilienza corretta, emendata, e più d’un terzo di cose nuove ampliata dal M. R. D. Giovanni Stringa (Venice, 1604), 217r. The painter is not mentioned either by the document or by Stringa; according to Manfredi most of the portraits in the room were by Tintoretto, but a few were by Titian. Hadeln reasoned that on balance of probability, this version of the portrait was by Tintoretto. Detlev von Hadeln, “Beiträge zur Tintorettoforschung,” Jahrbuch der Königlich Preussischen Kunstsammlungen 32 (1911): 43–44.
Paolo Giovio, Elogia Virorum Bellica Virtute Illustrium (Basel, 1575), 6:329. See also Diane H. Bodart, “Le reflet et l’éclat: Jeux de l’envers dans la peinture vénitienne du XVIe siècle,” in Titien, Tintoret, Véronèse: Rivalités à Venise (Paris, 2009), 236.
Paolo Giovio, Elogia Virorum Bellica Virtute Illustrium (Basel, 1575), 6:329. The portrait owned by Giovio was still in the possession of his family in 1881, but it has since disappeared. See Giovanni Giovio, Lari artistici: Collezioni (Como, 1881), 85.
Victor Lasareff, “Ein Bildnis des Vincenzo Capello von Tintoretto,” Jahrbuch der Preussischen Kunstsammlungen 44 (1923): 172–177.
Lasareff, who identified the Hermitage version (fig. 2) as the original, and who also assumed that it was painted in the sitter’s lifetime, concluded that it was one of Tintoretto’s earliest works. But other critics who have upheld the attribution to Tintoretto have forgotten Lasareff’s firmly established terminus ante quem of 1552. In particular, Rearick suggested a date of circa 1572/1575, contemporary with a number of other official portraits by Tintoretto of Venetian admirals, including the Sebastiano Venier (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna) and the Tommaso Contarini (Musée de la Ville, Narbonne).
William R. Rearick, in Venezia da stato a mito (Venice, 1997), 335–336.
The portrait is inscribed NICOLAUS/ CAPPELLUS/ TER CLASI/ PRAEFECTUS. A half-length portrait, apparently of the same sitter, formerly in the Schlichting collection in Paris and now in the Louvre, was supposed by Emil Schäffer, “Noch einmal das Bildnis des Vincenzo Capello,” Monatshefte für Kunstwissenschaft 2 (1909): 158–160, followed by Victor Lasareff, “Ein Bildnis des Vincenzo Capello von Tintoretto,” Jahrbuch der Preussischen Kunstsammlungen 44 (1923): 172–177, to be Titian’s portrait of Vincenzo Cappello; but it, too, was convincingly reattributed to Palma Giovane by Bernard Berenson, “While on Tintoretto,” in Festschrift für Max J. Friedländer zum 60. Geburtstage (Leipzig, 1927), 226, fig. 2. For these portraits, see Stefania Mason Rinaldi, Palma il Giovane: L’opera completa (Milan, 1984), 80, no. 57, and 101, no. 207; the author plausibly identifies the sitter as Niccolò di Vincenzo Cappello (born 1547), rather than as the 15th-century Niccolò Cappello.
Rearick did not, however, develop the stylistic comparison with the portraits of admirals by Tintoretto that he considered similar to the Vincenzo Cappello; and, in fact, although these may be seen as deriving from it, the resemblances remain superficial. Characteristic of Tintoretto’s treatment of highlights are the rapid slashes of unblended white paint that criss-cross the sitter’s armor in the Sebastiano Venier, whereas the more varied brushwork and richer range of textural effects in the Vincenzo Cappello are equally characteristic of Titian. The portrait by Tintoretto mentioned in the will of 1601 was probably instead a copy or variant of the present picture, which by this date had already passed out of the family’s possession. A likely candidate, in fact, for Tintoretto’s version of Titian’s original is provided by the picture now in the Chrysler collection (fig. 1), in which the much finer, more linear treatment of the hair and beard, the unblended white highlights of the cloak, and the taller dome of the balding head, all seem typical, despite the contrary opinion of Suida and Bertina Suida Manning, and of Robert Echols and Frederick Ilchman, of the younger master.
Wilhelm Suida, Tizian (Zurich and Leipzig, 1933), 81–82; Bertina Suida Manning, “Titian, Veronese and Tintoretto in the Collection of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.,” Arte veneta 16 (1962): 49–50; Robert Echols and Frederick Ilchman, in Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice (Boston, 2009), 284 n. 60. Although the Chrysler portrait may well be identical with that mentioned in the will of Vincenzo di Domenico Cappello in 1601, it is equally possible that it is the one commissioned in 1560 for the Procuratia de Supra, and recorded there by Manfredi (1602) and Stringa (1604) (see Entry note 12). Both writers mentioned that Cappello is shown, as in the Chrysler picture, with five batons of command rather than the three shown by Titian.
Confirmation that the Gallery’s picture precedes these other known versions is provided by the design changes revealed in the x-radiograph
Diane H. Bodart, “Le reflet et l’éclat: Jeux de l’envers dans la peinture vénitienne du XVIe siècle,” in Titien, Tintoret, Véronèse: Rivalités à Venise (Paris, 2009), 236.
Tamara Fomichova, The Hermitage Catalogue of West European Painting, Vol. 2: Venetian Painting of the Fourteenth to Eighteenth Centuries (Florence, 1992), 348–349; Stefania Mason Rinaldi, Palma il Giovane: L’opera completa (Milan, 1984), 171.
As pointed out by Lasareff, the composition of the Gallery’s picture, like that of its presumed prototype, develops that of Titian’s Francesco Maria della Rovere (Uffizi, Florence) of 1536–1538, in which a military commander is similarly portrayed standing in knee-length, wearing gleaming armor, holding a baton in his right hand, and in front of a shelf displaying his helmet and further batons. In pose and accoutrements, the Vincenzo Cappello may also be compared with several of Titian’s portraits of Eleven Caesars, painted for the duke of Mantua in 1536–1540 (lost, but recorded in the engravings of Aegedius Sadeler). It is natural that Titian, commissioned to paint a Venetian military hero in or just before 1540, should have adapted a formula recently devised for similarly martial images for the dukes of Urbino and Mantua. In turn, it provided the inspiration for Venetian warrior portraits of the later 16th century, including Tintoretto’s Sebastiano Venier,
Robert Echols and Frederick Ilchman, in Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice (Boston, 2009), 210–215.
March 21, 2019
Probably William Beckford [1760-1844], Fonthill Abbey, Wiltshire, and Bath, England; by inheritance to his son-in-law, Alexander Hamilton, 10th duke of Hamilton [1767-1852], Hamilton Palace, Strathclyde [near Glasgow], Scotland; by inheritance to his son, William Alexander Anthony Archibald Douglas, 11th duke of Hamilton [1811-1863], Hamilton Palace; by inheritance to his son, William Alexander Louis Stephen Douglas-Hamilton, 12th duke of Hamilton [1845-1895], Hamilton Palace; (Hamilton Palace sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 17, 19, and 20 June 1882, no. 410, as Portrait of an Admiral in Armour by Tintoretto); (P. and D. Colnaghi, London and New York); sold 1882 to Henry Bingham Mildmay [1828-1905], London, Shoreham Place, Kent, and Flete House, Devon; (his sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 24 June 1893, no. 73, as Portrait of a Venetian Admiral by Tintoretto); purchased by (Thos. Agnew & Sons, Ltd., London) for Archibald Philip Primrose, 5th earl of Rosebery [1847-1929], Dalmeny House, Midlothian, Scotland; probably Albert Edward Harry Mayer Archibald Primrose, 6th earl of Rosebery [1882-1974], Dalmeny House; sold 1954 through (Wildenstein & Co., New York) to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York; gift 1957 to NGA.
Associated NamesAgnew & Sons, Ltd., Thomas
Christie, Manson & Woods, Ltd.
Colnaghi & Co., Ltd., P. & D.
Hamilton, Alexander, 10th Duke of
Hamilton, William Alexander Anthony Archibald, 11th Duke of
Hamilton, William Alexander Louis Stephen, 12th Duke of
Kress Foundation, Samuel H.
Mildmay, Henry Bingham
Rosebery, Albert E.H.M.A. Primrose, 6th Earl
Rosebery, Archibald Philip Primrose, 5th Earl
Wildenstein & Co., Inc.
- Exhibition of Works by the Old Masters, and by Deceased Masters of the British School. Winter Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, no. 180, as by Tintoretto.
- Exhibition of Venetian Art, The New Gallery, London, 1894-1895, no. 219, as by Tintoretto.
- Venezia Da Stato a Mito [Venice: From a State to a Myth], Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice, 1997, no. 22, repro., as by Tintoretto.
- The Age of Titian: Venetian Renaissance Art from Scottish Collections, Royal Scottish Academy Building, Edinburgh, 2004, no. 35, repro.
The support is a moderate-weight twill fabric. It has been lined. The paint is fractured around the edges of the painting, and the x-radiographs show only faint evidence of cusping along the top and bottom edges. This indicates that the original support was trimmed slightly, though probably not significantly.
The ground, applied with a trowel, is now tan in color, but presumably was originally white. The x-radiographs
Infrared reflectography was performed with a Santa Barbara Focalplane InSb camera fitted with an H astronomy filter.
The figure was held in reserve, with the background elements painted around him. The underpainting was executed in an exceptionally broad, vigorous, and rapid manner, with strong brushmarking, but the face was more smoothly modeled in the upper paint layers. The artist used a deep red glaze to create the shadows of the folds of the cloak.
The paint layer is not well preserved, and the impasto has been flattened by lining. There is generalized abrasion throughout, with severe abrasion in the background at the top right and bottom left. In the face, the shadowed eye is abraded and repainted. There is a 32-centimeter vertical line of paint loss through the bottom center of the painting.
Joanna Dunn based on the examination reports by Carol Christensen and Joanna Dunn
March 21, 2019
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