The Earlier Work of Titian eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 105 pages of information about The Earlier Work of Titian.
though broadened and coarsened in the process of translation into wood-engraving, are not materially at variance with those in the frescoes of the Scuola del Santo.  But the movement, the spirit of the whole is essentially different.  This mighty, onward-sweeping procession, with Adam and Eve, the Patriarchs, the Prophets and Sibyls, the martyred Innocents, the great chariot with Christ enthroned, drawn by the four Doctors of the Church and impelled forward by the Emblems of the four Evangelists, with a great company of Apostles and Martyrs following, has all the vigour and elasticity, all the decorative amplitude that is wanting in the frescoes of the Santo.  It is obvious that inspiration was derived from the Triumphs of Mantegna, then already so widely popularised by numerous engravings.  Titian and those under whose inspiration he worked here obviously intended an antithesis to the great series of canvases presenting the apotheosis of Julius Caesar, which were then to be seen in the not far distant Mantua.  Have we here another pictorial commentary, like the famous Cristo detta Moneta, with which we shall have to deal presently, on the “Quod est Caesaris Caesari, quod est Dei Deo,” which was the favourite device of Alfonso of Ferrara and the legend round his gold coins?  The whole question is interesting, and deserves more careful consideration than can be accorded to it on the present occasion.  Hardly again, until he reached extreme old age, did such an impulse of sacred passion colour the art of the painter of Cadore as here.  In the earlier section of his life-work the Triumph of Faith constitutes a striking exception.

[Illustration:  St. Anthony of Padua causing a new-born Infant to speak.  Fresco in the Scuola del Santo, Padua.  From a Photograph by Alinari.]

Passing over, as relatively unimportant, Titian’s share in the much-defaced fresco decorations of the Scuola del Carmine, we come now to those more celebrated ones in the Scuola del Santo.  Out of the sixteen frescoes executed in 1510-11 by Titian, in concert with Domenico Campagnola and other assistants of less fame, the following three are from the brush of the master himself:—­St. Anthony causes a new-born Infant to speak, testifying to the innocence of its Mother; St. Anthony heals the leg of a Youth; A jealous Husband puts to death his Wife, whom the Saint afterwards restores to life. Here the figures, the composition, the beautiful landscape backgrounds bear unmistakably the trace of Giorgione’s influence.  The composition has just the timidity, the lack of rhythm and variety, that to the last marks that of Barbarelli.  The figures have his naive truth, his warmth and splendour of life, but not his gilding touch of spirituality to lift the uninspiring subjects a little above the actual.  The Nobleman putting to death his Wife is dramatic, almost terrible in its fierce, awkward realism, yet it does not rise much higher in interpretation than what our neighbours would to-day call the drame passionel. The interest is much the same that is aroused in a student of Elizabethan literature by that study of murder, Arden of Feversham, not that higher attraction that he feels—­horrors notwithstanding—­for The Maid’s Tragedy of Beaumont and Fletcher, or The Duchess of Malfi of Webster.[24]

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The Earlier Work of Titian from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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