National Gallery of Art Inspiration - Titian

The next paintings that really captured my attention were a few portraits by the Venetian master, Titian.

Among the many reasons these portraits are great is their vivid color, and the illusion of texture he achieved in the sitters clothes. The thin application of paint, right next to areas of more solid impasto paint, especially in the clothing, are what make the subject really tangible. As with the Raphael from the previous post, the delicate way in which the faces are executed, and the softness at key edges are something to be appreciated in person.

                                       Titian, "Cardinal Pietro Bembo" (detail)

The sense that I was seeing actual personalties from over 500 years ago, as opposed to idealized religious subjects was very cool. Just standing so close to these paintings and knowing that this is as close as one can get to being in the presence of the master in his own world, (so very different from our own time) was quite a rush!

                                     Titian, "Ranuccio Farnese" (detail)

Main technical difference to note between these paintings and earlier Renaissance paintings in the National Gallery, is the paint texture getting thicker in highlight areas which makes the brush work more apparent. Titian, sometimes referred to as the first “modern” painter, was one of the earliest painters to begin to move away from the soft, smokey edge techniques and oils on wood panels, to more direct methods of oil painting on canvas.

We'll move on to some Late Renaissance pieces next time.


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