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Indepth Arts News:

2003-02-19 until 2003-05-18
National Gallery
London, , UK United Kingdom

‘Titian’ is the first in a series of three Renaissance exhibitions to be held at the National Gallery. It will be followed by ‘El Greco’ and ‘Raphael’ exhibitions in 2004. Titian was one of the giants of Renaissance art, whose revolutionary handling of surface and colour transformed the language of painting. This is the first major exhibition of his work to be held in the UK. An artist with a broad range, Titian’s work encompasses mythology, religion, landscape and portraiture, and deals with heroic actions and profound passions. This remarkable exhibition is being generously sponsored by Barclays PLC.

Famous throughout his lifetime (about 1487 - 1576), few individuals have had a greater influence on the development of Western painting. This exhibition brings together important loans of many of his most renowned paintings, covering all stages of his career. The National Gallery’s own magnificent collection of eleven paintings by Titian will be shown within this context.

The young Titian was inspired by the example of Giovanni Bellini and Giorgione to learn how to manipulate oil paint to create dramatic scenes set in convincing light-filled landscapes. In these paintings he invented a vision of a golden age that influenced all subsequent painters. The National Gallery’s ‘Bacchus and Ariadne’, one of the mythological paintings he made for Alfonso d’Este, Duke of Ferrara, will be reunited for the first time since 1598 with two other Titian paintings from the series, ‘The Worship of Venus’, and ‘The Andrians’ (both Museo del Prado, Madrid) as well as Bellini’s ‘Feast of the Gods’.

Titian’s ability to create a convincing yet flattering likeness made him famous as a portrait painter, and the invention of child portraiture was attributed to him. Throughout his career he was engaged by kings, princes, dukes and popes to paint portraits of themselves and their families. The exhibition will include examples from all stages of his career, from the National Gallery’s early ‘Man with a Quilted Sleeve’ to some of the masterpieces from his middle years, such as ‘Clarissa Strozzi’, ‘Ranuccio Farnese’, ‘Philip II’ and ‘Pope Paul III’, to the late ‘Nicolo Zen’ and ‘Jacopo Strada’. Titian was also noted for his sensual representation of women, and included will be his paintings of ‘Danaë’ (Museo Capodimonte, Naples), and ‘Flora’ (Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence), which is regarded as one of the masterpieces of this genre.

Titian’s late works display an unprecedented freedom in the handling of thickly-textured oil paint, and it is still unclear whether some of these works are finished. The exhibition culminates with a group of these late, dramatic works, including the National Gallery’s ‘Diana and Actaeon’, ‘Tarquin and Lucretia’ (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge), ‘The Entombment’ (Museo del Prado, Madrid), and ‘The Flaying of Marsyas’ (Kromeriz, Czech Republic) which show Titian exploring the full range of human emotion and pushing the boundaries of painting further than ever before.

This exhibition is curated by David Jaffé, senior curator at the National Gallery. It is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue including essays by Charles Hope, Jennifer Fletcher, Jill Dunkerton and Miguel Falomir, and catalogue entries by David Jaffé, Nicholas Penny and Caroline Campbell.

Bacchus and Ariadne, 1520-3
The National Gallery, London.

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