Titian

Stylistic Periods

Titian's work may be divided into three phases. The first is marked by the strong influence of Giovanni Bellini and Giorgione, exemplified in the so-called Sacred and Profane Love (c.1513; Borghese Gall., Rome) and in the Madonna of the Cherries (c.1515; Vienna). The attribution of certain works such as the Fête Champêtre (Louvre) is still a matter of controversy; some historians attribute the work to Giorgione.

During his second phase (c.1518–1550) there is a full development of the dramatic monumentality characteristic of High Renaissance painting. Typical of this phase are the Pesaro Altarpiece (1519–26; Church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Venice), the Presentation of the Virgin (1534–38; Academy, Venice), and the Christ Crowned with Thorns (c.1542; Louvre). Titian also achieved a greater sumptuousness of color and an evocation of sensuous joy in such pictures as the Worship of Venus (1519; Prado), Bacchus and Ariadne (1523; National Gall., London), and the Venus of Urbino (1537; Uffizi). Many of Titian's most famous portraits were painted during this period, including La Bella (1537), Ippolito Rinaldo (c.1545; both: Pitti Palace), and the equestrian portrait of Charles V at the Battle of Mühlberg (1548; Prado).

In Titian's last phase there is an intensification of emotional expression and an emphasis on harsh subject matter, as in one of his final works, the brutal Flaying of Marsyas (1576). A deeply personal and mystical spirit becomes visible in a new looseness of brushstroke and subtlety of color. A climactic example is his last painting, the Pietà (Academy, Venice), intended for the artist's own tomb and finished by Palma Giovane.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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