Cadore and Venice—Early Giorgionesque works up to the date of the residence in Padua—New interpretations of Giorgione’s and Titian’s pictures.
Tiziano Vecelli was born in or about the year 1477 at Pieve di Cadore, a district of the southern Tyrol then belonging to the Republic of Venice, and still within the Italian frontier. He was the son of Gregorio di Conte Vecelli by his wife Lucia, his father being descended from an ancient family of the name of Guecello (or Vecellio), established in the valley of Cadore. An ancestor, Ser Guecello di Tommasro da Pozzale, had been elected Podesta of Cadore as far back as 1321. The name Tiziano would appear to have been a traditional one in the family. Among others we find a contemporary Tiziano Vecelli, who is a lawyer of note concerned in the administration of Cadore, keeping up a kind of obsequious friendship with his famous cousin at Venice. The Tizianello who, in 1622, dedicated to the Countess of Arundel an anonymous Life of Titian known as Tizianello’s Anonimo, and died at Venice in 1650, was Titian’s cousin thrice removed.
Gregorio Vecelli was a valiant soldier, distinguished for his bravery in the field and his wisdom in the council of Cadore, but not, it may be assumed, possessed of wealth or, in a poor mountain district like Cadore, endowed with the means of obtaining it. The other offspring of the marriage with Lucia were Francesco,—supposed, though without substantial proof, to have been older than his brother,—Caterina, and Orsa. At the age of nine, according to Dolce in the Dialogo della Pittura, or of ten, according to Tizianello’s Anonimo, Titian was taken from Cadore to Venice, there to enter upon the serious study of painting. Whether he had previously received some slight tuition in the rudiments of the art, or had only shown a natural inclination to become a painter, cannot be ascertained with any precision; nor is the point, indeed, one of any real importance. What is much more vital in our study of the master’s life-work is to ascertain how far the scenery of his native Cadore left a permanent impress on his landscape art, and in what way his descent from a family of mountaineers and soldiers, hardy, yet of a certain birth and breeding, contributed to shape his individuality in its development to maturity. It has been almost universally assumed