Artibus et Historiae no. 67 (XXXIV)2013, ISSN 0391-9064
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JÓZEF GRABSKI - The Contribution of Collaborators in Titian’s Late Works (pp. 285-310)
In the last fifteen years a number of important studies concerning the late period of Titian’s activity have arisen. It was particularly the rôle of Titian’s collaborators and assistants working in his studio that was the focus of many insightful studies, books, and exhibitions which tried to elucidate the problem of how Titian’s bottega worked, how it was organized and what part his collaborators, whose names we know very well, played within it. Yet, the indication of the scope of their contribution in specific late works of the Cadorino was avoided, as almost impossible to be established.
The studies by Lionello Puppi, Augusto Gentili, Bernard Aikema, David Rosand, and also by the younger generation of perceptive scholars, to mention only few of them – Giorgio Tagliaferro, Andrew John Martin and Matteo Mancini – enabled us a better insight into the practices of the studio of the master from Pieve di Cadore.
However, even though the results of that research cast new light on how the studio under the leadership of Titian operated, there is scarce evidence concerning the contribution of his collaborators. A very fair manner of Palma il Giovane, who confirmed his own intervention into the Pietà in the Gallerie dell’Accademia with an explicative inscription, is an exception.
We can assume that the works produced in the house of Biri Grande in the last fifteen years of Titian’s activity were created with the help of assistants from the group of the master’s closest collaborators: his son Orazio Vecellio (1522/1525? – 1576), Emanuel Amberger, Christoph Schwarz, Valerio Zuccato, Damiano Mazza, Marco (1545–1611) and Cesare Vecellio (1521 – c. 1601), Girolamo Dente (1510 – c. 1565/70) and Giovanni Maria Verdizzotti (1537/40–1604/07).
The stylistic and qualitative analysis of the late works issued from Titian’s studio enable us to distinguish different hands in many works. The difficult stylistic and attributional analysis supported by scarce archival sources (including Titian’s correspondence with the imperial court, the letters of the ambassadors of Philipp II in Venice, and the correspondence with the Spanish governor in Milan) gives us nonetheless some insight into the division of the work in the studio.
The present study focuses only on a few selected, late paintings belonging to two groups. Some of them, namely the Portrait of Jacopo Strada, 1566 (Vienna), Tarquinius and Lucretia, c. 1570–1571 (Cambridge), the allegory of Religion Succored by Spain, 1570–1575 (Madrid), and Philip II Offering Don Fernando to Victory, 1575 (Madrid), left Titian’s studio as finished works, sometimes even signed ‘Titianus’, and were delivered to the patrons who ordered them. Other works taken here into consideration, namely the Flaying of Marsyas, c. 1575 (Kroměříž), Ecce Homo, c. 1570–1576 (St. Louis) and the Pietà (Venice), belong to a group of paintings completed in undetermined time and in unknown circumstances, which were left unfinished and found in the artist’s studio after his death in the August of 1576.
In both groups of works considered here the contribution of assistants is visible and obvious. An attempt has been made to distinguish and determine the extent of the contribution of particular collaborators, and to reveal the rôle of Titian’s elder son, Pomponio, in finishing and commercializing them, years after Titian’s death. In some cases also the hand of the artist’s younger son Orazio and that of Emanuel Amberger have been tentatively indicated.