Art e Dossier

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Art History

Tiziano: biography

He began his artistic training in Venice, in the Bellini atelier, studying first with Gentile and then Giovanni. Between 1508 and 1509, as an independent painter, he worked alongside of Giorgione on the façades of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi. By 1510 he was a renowned artist and was receiving commissions for important altarpieces (The St. Mark Altarpiece, Santa Maria della Salute). In 1511 he did the frescoes in the Scuola del Santo in Padua. In exchange for the “sansaria” of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi, a sort of pension that the Council of Ten granted the most talented artists, in 1513 he offered his services to the Serenissima, as Venice was known, and became the official painter of the Republic. He received many commissions for paintings on secular themes with complex meanings from the nobility, such as The Concert that is in the Louvre, and Sacred and Profane Love, (Borghese Gallery). In 1516 he began working for Alfonso I d’Este who, in 1518, commissioned him to decorate the Alabaster Chambers; that same year he completed monumental painting for the high altar in Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice. This was followed by the Pesaro Madonna (1519-1526) for the same church and the Averoldi Polyptych (1520-22) for the church of SS. Nazaro and Celsio in Brescia. Because of his talents as a portraitist he was in great demand in the various Italian courts: he worked for the Gonzaga family in Manutua and then for the Dukes of Urbino. The year 1542 marked the beginning of a long and trying relationship with the family of pope Paul III. Three years later he went to Rome where he was to remain until June 1546. After he painted his first portrait of Charles V on the occasion of his coronation (1530) he became one of the favorite painters of the emperor and his son Philip II, the future king of Spain. For years he sent his finest works to Madrid, painting for the Habsburgs on an almost exclusive basis. The mid-forties marked a turning point in his art: the compositions became increasingly dramatic and influenced by Roman mannerism as we can see in the extended plasticity of the figures. Gradually he handled color more freely and came to use small brush strokes (Christ Crowned with Thorns, Munch 1570-1576; The Flaying of Marsyas, Kromeriz, 1570-1576) that verged on the look of unfinished.

The works