Titian Lesson Plans
Chapter from Knights of Art by Amy Steedman
Chapter 38 from Pictures Every Child Should Know by Mary Bacon
"Bacchus and Ariadne" from Great Pictures, as Seen and Described by Famous Writers edited by Esther Singleton
"The Assumption of the Virgin" from Great Pictures, as Seen and Described by Famous Writers edited by Esther Singleton
Section from A Text-book of the History of Painting by John C. Van Dyke
"Titian" from Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists
"Titian" from Lives of the Artists by Giorgio Vasari (pdf) pages 357-367
"Ten Questions to Ask Your Kids About Art"
"Questions to Ask About Art When Discussions Get Stuck"
"Successful Art Class Critique"
"Picture Talks" from Ambleside Online
"Picture Study Ideas" from Ambleside Online
Real name: Tiziano Veccelio
Italian (Venetian) Renaissance Painter. Born c. 1480 in Pieve di Cadore (Belluno province, Veneto), Italy. Died in 1576 in Venice (Venetian province, Veneto), Italy.
1. Read a biography of Titian.
2. Complete Artist Worksheet on Titian.
3. Study "The Three Ages of Man" and complete Art Worksheet.
The Three Ages of Man
Oil on canvas
90 x 151 cm
National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh
The earliest compositions on mythological or allegorical themes show the young artist still under the spell of Giorgione in his creation of a poetic Arcadian world where nothing commonplace or sordid exists. The inspiration lies in the idyllic world of the love lyrics of the 16th-century Italian poets Jacopo Sannazzaro and Pietro Bembo. The Three Ages of Man, where the erotic relationship of the young couple is discreetly muted and a mood of tenderness and sadness prevails, is one of the most exquisite of these. From Encyclopaedia Britannica.
The young Titian was influenced by Giorgione, it is therefore not surprising that this work has been the subject of scholarly debate concerning its attribution to either one of the two artists. From Web Gallery of Art.
This early work depicts the three stages of life: infancy, adulthood and old age. Cupid clambers over the sleeping babies who may grow up to be like the young lovers on the right. Their intense and intimate relationship will eventually be interrupted by death, symbolised by two skulls which the old man contemplates. Titian invites us to meditate on the transience or passage of human life and reminds us of everlasting love. To his contemporaries the church in the background may have signalled the promise of eternal life in heaven. The lush landscape complements the lyrical mood, echoing classical and contemporary pastoral poetry. From National Galleries of Scotland.
The Three Ages of Man (from the Duke of Sutherland's Collection, without which the Edinburgh National Gallery would be impoverished) of c. 1515 may prefigure the theme of regeneration. The painting is perhaps an incomplete canvas by Giorgione - one of his many orphans - finished by the young Titian. That is suggested by the soft Giorgionesque aureole around the white hair and beard of the old man brooding over two skulls in the distance and his close resemblance to St Joseph in Giorgione's Nativities in London and Washington; by the tawny face (as in Giorgione's male portraits in general and his own self-portrait in Brunswick) of the youth; and by the rawer and sharper coloration of the maiden playing music with the youth and of the two inert putti later to awake in The Worship of Venus. The subject may be The Three Ages of Man in the sense of decline and revival. Cupid clambers over the roots of a dead tree and the unroused putti, towards the two lovers. He advances like the newborn children who revive manki nd at the end of Holbein's Dance of Death. A future generation seeks birth, and the lovers leave their music: the maiden wears a myrtle marriage-wreath. From "Titian at the National Gallery" by David Bruce.
In later paintings of this decade Titian progressively enriched Giorgione's idyllic style. Bodies and fabrics took on an increasingly sensuous density and splendor, landscape settings became more resonant, colors deep and intense but harmonious--as in The Three Ages of Man (circa 1513, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh) and Sacred and Profane Love (circa 1515, Galleria Borghese, Rome). From CGFA.
4. Sketch "The Three Ages of Man".
5. Study "Madonna and Child with Saint Catherine and a Rabbit" and complete Art Worksheet.
Also known as "Madonna of the Rabbit". Located in the Louvre. Painted in 1530. Oil on canvas.
The Virgin, sitting in pre to eat fruits there, immobilizes a rabbit and shows it with the stirring up Child that holy Catherine holds, knelt on the instrument of its martyrdom, the wheel with hooks. The landscape, overcome of a twilight sky striated with orange and blued bands, at that time illustrates the idyllic feeling of an accessible nature suitable for Titien of return to the giorgionism. The white rabbit symbolizes the purity of the Virgin and the mystery of the Incarnation, while the grape and the apple in the basket announce the passion suffered by Christ for the repurchase from the sins. From the Louvre. Translated by Google.
6. Sketch "Madonna and Child with Saint Catherine and a Rabbit".
7. Study "The Supper at Emmaus" and complete Art Worksheet.
Oil on canvas. Painted c. 1530. Located in the Louvre.
In the Gospel according to saint Luc (24, 13-35), Jesus appears during the day of his resurrection, during a meal with Emmaüs, with two disciples, Luc and Cléophas, who recognize it with the fraction of the bread. The serene face of Christ appears above a white tablecloth preceding the furnace bridge of the mass: the symbols of Eucharistie make in a realistic way one there of most beautiful natures dead of Venetian painting. The salt pyramid evokes moreover the role that Jesus assigns with his disciples: "You are the salt of the earth" (Gospel according to Matthieu saint, 5, 13). From the Louvre. Translated by Babel Fish.
At first glance this painting provides an evocative and straightforward depiction of a Bible story, the 'Supper at Emmaus', related by St. Luke in his gospel (Luke,chapter 24, verses 13-32), and painted by one of Europe's greatest artists of the 16th century cultural Renaissance, Titian. But the closer we look the more mysteries emerge. Who are the figures? What is the significance of the beautifully realised still-life, on the crisp white damask tablecloth, and the cat and dog that confront each other in the shadows underneath? When was it painted and for who?
The supper, held in an inn at the village of Emmaus, near Jerusalem, was one of the occasions when Jesus revealed himself to his followers after his Crucifixion and Resurrection. One of the two disciples was called Cleophas the other is unnamed, but because the story is only told in Luke's gospel, he is traditionally identified as St. Luke, despite the fact that Luke lived many decades after Christ's Crucifixion.
When the disciples first met Christ, on the way to Emmaus, they failed to recognise him and mistook him for a pilgrim, like themselves. This is why Titian has shown the central figure of Christ, wearing on his right shoulder, the most common symbol of pilgrimage, the scallop-shell, worn by travellers to the Spanish shrine of St James at Santiago de Compostella.
Once at Emmaus they pressed the stranger to take supper with them. Titian superbly captures the evening sunlight filtering across the background landscape. It is only when Christ blessed and broke the bread, as he had done at the Last Supper before his Crucifixion, that they recognised him.
Of the two disciples the figure on the left who starts back open-mouthed in amazement as he recognises Christ's identity has been presumed to be Luke and the praying man on the left, the virtually unknown figure of Cleophas. But early religious commentators on the Bible, such as the 5th century bishop St. Augustine, describe Cleophas reacting to the revelation by praying out loud and St Luke by meditating, and later becoming a pilgrim.
So the open mouthed figure may equally represent Cleophas and the contemplative figure whose pilgrim's staff leans nearby, and to whom Christ directs his glance as he blesses the bread, the future author of the Gospel of St. Luke.
In Venice this subject was usually treated as an excuse to paint a lavish banquet with splendid table settings. Here the simple wine glasses, bread-rolls and chicken (brought in by the servant-boy) are unusually accompanied by broad-bean pods and delicate little bright-blue borage flowers scattered across the table.
The broad bean was considered peasant food, typically served to poor pilgrims on their travels. But this curious combination may also reflect a Venetian custom of eating candied broad beans (fave dolci)at the Feast of the Dead on All Souls Day, 2November. Broad beans were thought to possess the soul of the dead and borage, which was used to freshen wine, was believed to drive away sadness and bring joy. The bread and wine relate to the Eucharist, the key Christian ceremony.
The dog features in other earlier Venetian depictions of the scene. It probably refers to Christ's words to the Canaanite woman (Matthew 15, 21-28) who begged him to exorcise a demon from her daughter. Initially Christ refused saying 'it is not fair to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs'. But she persuaded him by retorting 'Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table'. The cat may have been added (perhaps by a workshop assistant) as an amusing incident, unusual in Titian's religious paintings, which tend to be solemn and devotional.
Close to the dog's back legs and painted as if carved into floor tiles near Christ's feet is TITIANUS. F, the Latin for 'Titian made this'. The form that this signature takes gives a clue as to when the picture was painted. Until about 1533 Titian seems to have signed himself with a 'C' instead of a 'T' in the middle of his first name.
Until recently the picture in the Walker was believed to have been painted before 1531, because a Venetian diarist Marino Sanuto (1466-1535), noted a Titian painting being installed in the Venetian Doge's Palace in September/October 1531, where the artist-biographer Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574) later described the 'Emmaus' as hanging. But Sanuto's diary in fact refers to another major work by Titian, portraying the 'Doge Andrea Gritti before the Madonna and Child with Saints',which was hung in 1531 over the door leading from the Collegio to the Sala del Senato (see attached plan of 2nd floor of the Doge's Palace).
In 1566 Vasari described Titian's 'Supper at Emmaus' as hanging in a different place, the 'salotto d'oro'(a small room near the Golden Staircase) over the door opposite to the entrance of the 'Sala del Consiglio dei Dieci' (the Chamber of the Council of 10). Titian must have painted the 'Emmaus' sometime shortly after 1533, as Vasari's life of the artist is broadly chronological and his description of the painting fits between the 'Martyrdom of St. Peter Martyr' (finished 1530) and his huge 'Presentation of the Virgin' (1534-39). Besides which Titian and his workshop very rarely used wood as a painting support, as here, after about 1535.
Vasari, who praised the 'Emmaus'greatly, states that it had previously been for some years in the Doge's private apartments, having been presented by a member of one of Venice's leading families, the Contarini. This was probably Alessandro Contarini (1486-1553), a successful naval captain against the Turks and captain general of Venice's armed forces, who in June 1538 was created a senior magistrate (procurator).
It is possible that Contarini's portrait, insignia, and servant's livery are reflected in the individualised features of the right-hand pilgrim (which suggest a portrait of a real person), the badge of crossed swords on Christ's left shoulder and the warm red and gold tunic of the servant-boy. The Doge's Palace, the main centre of Venetian government, was a prestigious site for an artist to display his work. By presenting a work to the Palace, Contarini both promoted Titian's talent and the Contarini name.
In later centuries the 'Emmaus'hung in or near the Palace chapel (Chiesetta). It was from there that, as Napoleon's troops took over Venice and removed many of the city's artistic treasures to Paris, the British diplomat in Venice in 1793-7, Sir Richard Worsley, acquired the painting. From Walker Art Gallery.
One of the most famous paintings by Titian is back in Italy for the first time in nearly four centuries.
Supper At Emmaus, usually on display at the Louvre, is on loan to Milan's Ambrosiana Library as part of a three-painting celebration of the mystery of Christ's Resurrection.
The other two works on display are Noli Me Tangere by Bernardini Luini and Marco Basaiti's Risen Christ.
Although Titian completed three paintings depicting Christ's appearance in the village of Emmaus on the day of his resurrection, the Louvre work is the most famous. The painting depicts a moment from the 'Supper at Emmaus', recounted in the Gospel of Luke. It shows Jesus sitting at supper, held at an inn in Emmaus, near Jerusalem, the evening sky and hills visible through a window in the background.
According to the Bible, Jesus encountered his disciples on the road and they, mistaking him for another pilgrim, urged him to eat with them. It was only when Christ blessed and broke the bread, as he had done at the Last Supper, that they recognized him.
The painting depicts the moment of recognition, as Christ breaks the bread at a table laid with other symbolic items: water and wine representing the Eucharist and two quinces, indicating original sin.
The Ambrosiana has infused the display room with the scent of freshly baked bread in order to render visitors' experience of the sweeping canvas more intense. Titian completed the piece in 1530 following a commission from the Mantuan ambassador to the Venetian Republic, Nicola Maffei, whose coat of arms was discovered during the restoration of a stool in a corner of the
It later became part of the Gonzaga Collection, before being bought by Charles I of England and then by Louis XIV of France in 1662.
The Sun King was reportedly so enamoured of the work that he kept it locked away in a gilded cage.
It eventually ended up at the Louvre and has remained in Paris ever since.
The painting can be visited at the Ambrosiana until November 30, after which it returns to its customary position in the Louvre, where it hangs in the same room as Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa. From "Titian masterpiece returns to Italy".
8. Sketch "The Supper at Emmaus".
9. Study "Emperor Charles V at Muhlberg" and complete Art Worksheet.
Oil on canvas. 130 5/8 x 109 3/4 inches. Painted in 1548. Located in the Museo Prado in Madrid, Spain.
Titian painted several portraits of the Emperor Charles V, who considered the artist his favourite painter and gave him his full confidence and friendship, including an imperial noble title. The emperor chose his favourite painter to preserve for posterity the great victory of the empire over the Protestants at the celebrated Battle of Mühlberg. Titian depicted Charles V as the leader of the victorious army in this magnificent equestrian portrait that evokes the monuments of the great Roman emperors of old. The monarch is set against a beautiful wooded countryside, with a river -the battle took place near the banks of the Elbe- and a late afternoon light that suggests a king of spiritual absorbtion. The vitality of the colours of the armour (currently at the Royal Palace's Armoury), of the horse blanket and the helmet's plume contrast magnificently with the paleness and the certain melancholy of the protagonist, who was ill and soon to retire to Yuste (Cáceres). From the Museo Prado.
When he posed for this portrait in 1548, Charles V was the most powerful man in the world. He had recently won the battle of Mühlberg, in which he triumphed over Protestant armies. Charles, a Habsburg, was heir to the Holy Roman Empire and the throne of Spain. When he was crowned in 1519, it seemed no one could resist his empire encompassing the Mediterranean, the Atlantic and central Europe.
Within a few years of Titian's portrait, however, he was a disillusioned man. In 1555 he accepted the settlement of Augsburg, and with it the inevitability of a religiously divided Europe. Charles abdicated for a life of spiritual contemplation; his son, Philip II, became king of Spain, while his brother Ferdinand ruled central Europe.
There's a smoky magnificence to Titian's equestrian portrait that transcends mere flattery. It is one of the world's great paintings.
Charles is a grave, taciturn figure, yet convincingly heroic and active on his horse. His very lack of swagger makes him live. His steely, sombre eyes are surveying the field, making decisions, ruling. His shimmering armour seems for use rather than ostentation. It fits snugly, even as its ornate highlights and the red sash and the horse's fairytale pink velvet saddle against its black flanks fizz with colour and energy.
Titian transforms Renaissance equestrian portraiture. Fifteenth-century masterpieces of military triumph, like Verrocchio's sculpture of Colleoni in Venice and Uccello's painted monument to Sir John Hawkwood in Florence, depict their subjects as fearsome commanders.
By setting back Charles' forehead under his helmet, emphasising a tension between his introspective appearance and his martial purpose, Titian makes this a portrait of the inner man as well as the ruler.
In fact, Titian quotes Albrecht Dürer's disturbing print of 1513, Knight, Death and Devil, in which the armoured knight rides through the countryside surrounded by hideous figures of evil and mortality. Contemporaries saw this as an icon of "human fortitude". It is also a frightening, anxious work, expressed especially in the landscape, as Dürer's knight rides through tangled woods.
Titian's Charles V rides out of the woods, across a sweeping landscape, in front of one of Titian's most unforgettable skies - flaming and shadowed, with gold light fighting with blue, deathly clouds. This landscape suggests the immensities of space that Charles dominates and the brooding, inner landscape of the soul. From Guardian Unlimited Arts.
10. Sketch "Emperor Charles V at Muhlberg".
11 and 12. View other Titian works, including: Assumption of the Virgin, Pieta, Annunciation, The Entombment of Christ, Woman with a Mirror, Man with a Glove, The Presentation of the Virgin to the Temple and real location, Allegory of Time Governed by Prudence, The Sultana Rossa, Madonna and Child with Young St. John and St. Catherine, Charles V Seated, St. Jerome, Girl With Basket of Fruits, Woman in White, Empress Isabel of Portugal, Clarice Strozzi, St. John the Baptist, Portrait of a Man in a Red Cap, and Pentecost.