Saturday 22 November 2014

What's this Titian?

Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio, or Titian in English, was born somewhere between 1488 and 1490 (must have been a long pregnancy!) and died on 27 August 1576 (can't tell you the exact time).

He was an Italian painter and the most important one of the 16th Century Venetian school. 

He was known as "The Sun Amidst Small Stars" (a line from Dante's "Paradiso") because of his mastery of the paintbrush. You can see above his self portrait painted in about 1567. 

He was very versatile painting portraits, landscape backgrounds and mythological and religious subjects and was famous for his use of color - no black and white monochromes from good old Titian.  

Here's another painting of his known as "The Man with a Quilted Sleeve" which he completed in 1509 - the painting that is, not the sleeve.

See how the man is gazing at you as if to say "What are you looking at? Do you want a fight?"

By the size of that sleeve, one would be best advised to run away fast before feeling the effect of all those muscles.
And here's another Titian painted in 1515 known as "Portrait d'une Femme à sa Toilette"; which does not mean a woman in the toilet, but in English has been translated as "Woman with a Mirror".

Whilst you admire the beautiful brush strokes and the vivid use of colour, I on the other hand, am still trying to work out whose arm in a blue sleeve is on the bottom right trying to steal her bottle of perfume.

Maybe it's the man with the quilted sleeve!

Now when I first started this series of art critiques, the intention was to comment on really weird and unusual works of art out there. And I am very pleased that the series has proved popular amongst my readers, some of whom have suggested paintings for me to research and write about. (More suggestions please).

Someone wrote reecently suggesting I am like Sister Wendy (Wendy Beckett) the art historian who presented a series on art on the BBC in the 1990s.

Whilst I can assure you all that I am not as knowledgeable as Sister Wendy, one thing is for sure; I find it sometimes really confusing as to why certain artists find it necessary to paint totally unrealistic and unusual paintings.

Look at this one for instance, also by Titian, and painted in 1550.

It is entitled "Venus and Organist and Little Dog". I don't know about you, but I find this scene most odd and disturbing. Imagine for a moment a woman who wants to relax after a long day's work cleaning and cooking and doing the housework; and she wants to listen to some music.

She takes all her clothes off and lies on the bed and calls in one of her minions and asks him to play the piano whilst she spends some "quality time" with her dog.

As you can see, the pianist is somewhat distracted and, because he knows the tune by heart anyway, decides to take a swift look where he shouldn't whilst the lady is occupied with the dog.

The dog notices the naughty peeping Tom and yaps to warn the lady.

Whereupon the lady casually says to the man, "Keep your eyes on your organ please. And whilst you're at it, would you mind drawing the curtains. I don't want the gardener outside to see my behind!"

All that captured in just one painting by the marvellous Titian. Art is such a wonderful thing!


  1. Where do you come up with this from? Once again--I am laughing!

    I suggest any of Clementine Hunter's paintings/work. She is a Louisiana primitive artist. See what you can do with that!

  2. The thing is Lulu, I look at paintings and works of art and ask myself WHY?

    Why did the artist (Titan) paint a nude lady in this position and a man playing the organ and ... instead of looking forwards, he turns back and looks at her bits. WHY?

    What is it meant to portray? And what's the dog got to do with it?

    Did Titan paint all this from memorey? (I'd like to know what vimo he was drinking at the time). Or did he have people pose for him to paint this picture. How many men volunteered to play the piano? That's what I want to know.

    But the most important un-answered question about this painting is: What tune was he playing at the time? Any ideas?

    Thanx for your suggestion, Lulu. I'm very grateful. I'll look up Clementine Hunter and hopefully post about her here soon.

    God bless you for your support of my art critiques and suggestions.

    1. You see Lulu. I was so distracted by that painting that I made too many typing misteaks in my response above.

      I even spelled Titian's name wrong twice. But then, what does it matter what his name is if he can paint like that?

  3. Hi Victor! Again, Freud runs wild. Sigh. I agree with you, what does that last painting supposed to suggest? I guess there were a lot of women who would drop their drawers at the sight of a painter. She's got a lot more guts than me!

    Maybe the woman with the mirror is a community poster? It's probably warning people to watch their possessions. Take your eyes off your perfume and that's the end of it.
    Honestly, I love the one of the puffy-sleeve guy. The detail in the quilting is really cool. This guy was talented!

    1. I agree with you Ceil, that Titian was talented. Especially in the painting with the sleeve, although the title is a bit odd. Why not call it "Fred Smith" or whatever the man was named instead of "The Man with a Quilted Sleeve." What does the other sleeve look like I wonder?

      The mirror painting is weird too, unless it is a segment of a larger painting, hence the arm on thre bottom left stealing the perfume.

      And then the last painting. Did painters pay their models well, I wonder? I'm sure there would have been a lot of men happy to model for free for this one. But how many women? How did the conversation go as they got ready for the scene; or as they modelled.

      The man "I have got a cricked neck!"

      The woman "I hope you have a short memory!"

      God bless you, Ceil.

  4. I don't know about that last painting. Hey, what kind of organ is he looking at? :))) That's one dirty minded organist.

    1. Actually Manny, Titian painted many versions of this painting. There's one playing the lute. Also in the same position, looking back at the woman. Check them out. It's really strange that he painted so many times the same painting in the same positions.

      God bless.



God bless you.