Artibus et Historiae no. 74 (XXXVII)

2016, ISSN 0391-9064

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MATTHIAS WIVEL - Building the Brand. Titian Self-Portraits (pp. 119–138)

This article presents a survey of Titian’s activities as a self-portraitist: its origins, motivations, typology and development. Although only two extant Self-Portraits by Titian – presently in Berlin and Madrid – can plausibly be described as autograph, the evidence provided by numerous copies still in existence, and others recorded in the sources or in prints, demonstrates that his activity in the field was a sustained and relatively prolific one. A preliminary history of these is here proposed in the identification of a number of self-portrait types, all of which are traceable back to his studio and from which almost all subsequent portraits of the master are derived.

Simultaneously, the paper treats for the first time in detail a largely overlooked engraving after a lost self-portrait by the master. The life and career of its author, the Flemish artist Lambert Suavius, are examined as are the possible meanings of the date of 1539, included in the second state of the engraving. Unlikely to be the date of the print itself, it is here proposed that it points to an early painted self-portrait that predates any mentioned in the sources and helps localise more firmly Titian’s initial activities in the field in the 1530s, motivated by his knighthood of 1533 and stimulated by his association with Pietro Aretino and his literary circle.

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