Artibus et Historiae no. 67 (XXXIV)

2013, ISSN 0391-9064

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TOM NICHOLS - The Master as Monument: Titian and his Images (pp. 219-238)

This paper examines the problematic rôle of Titian as the synecdoche of Venetian tradition, or as its perfected telos. The older Titian seems to have understood himself in this way, as is evident from the steady flow of idealising self-portraits and other depictions of him from the mature and later periods of his career. This paper proposes that these images constructed Titian as a model of unassailable artistic authority, noting that this position was established through implied association with the elite social identity of his aristocratic and courtly patrons. It goes on to explore the more negative aspects of Titian’s predominance on younger artists in Venice, both within his workshop and across the city. Those following in Titian’s wake sought to associate themselves with him in this period, picturing him as the ‘father of art’ alongside images of themselves as chosen heir or successor. But the idea of tradition-as-personification apparent from their anxious identification may also reflect the disintegration of the traditional collective values that had long sustained the visual culture of Venice.

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