Titian - Renaissance Art History - Painting
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Who was Titian?

painting of an old man sitting
Titian's self-portrait

The Renaissance painter Titian was born about 1490 AD, near the Italian city of Venice. When Titian was born, Leonardo da Vinci was middle-aged, and Michelangelo was already a teenager. Titian's father managed local castles and mines for their owners, and many of his relatives were notaries (like lawyers or accountants), so he was born pretty well off.

Like Michelangelo, Titian was apprenticed to a well-known Venetian painter, Gentile Bellini, when he was about 10-12 years old. The Venetian doges recognized his talent quickly, and Titian always had plenty of money, recognition, and work.

Titian really changed the whole style of painting: he was most known for his vivid, glowing colors, but his loose, almost abstract brush-strokes may have been more revolutionary. Another revolutionary thing about Titian: unlike da Vinci or Michelangelo, Titian painted the Ottoman sultan, as well as the Pope. Times had changed, and Titian's themes were not so much about the Bible and Christianity. Instead, Titian painted portraits of the wealthy people around him, and scenes from Greek and Roman mythology like his Bacchus and Ariadne, and even the Ottoman sultan Suleiman himself. (Though Titian painted Suleiman from other images, without going to Constantinople, his teacher, Gentile Bellini, had made the trip to Constantinople to paint the Sultan.)

Titian lived to be very old - maybe about ninety years old. He died in 1576, twelve years after Michelangelo.

Learn by doing: paint a self-portrait
More about the Renaissance

Bibliography and further reading about Titian:

More about the Renaissance
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
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  • Carr, K.E. . Quatr.us Study Guides, . Web. 19 February, 2017