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Titian: His Lifeby Sheila Hale
Synopses & Reviews
Born in the mountains above Venice in the late fifteenth century, Tiziano Vecellio—or Titian—was the greatest painter of the Venetian High Renaissance. A poetic visionary and a technical master of oils, he painted everything, from frescoes and grand altarpieces to mythological stories and portraits—works described by his contemporaries as "mirrors of nature."
Sheila Hale's rich biography is the first since 1877 to examine all contemporary accounts of Titian's life and work as well as recent art historical scholarship, some of it previously unpublished. Her book charts the extraordinary transformation of Titian's style: from the radiant, minutely realized masterpieces of his youth, to the more freely painted work of his middle years, to the dark, tragic, sometimes terrifying visions of his old age. Drawing on the latest scientific examinations of his paintings, Hale seeks to explain the evolution of his methods and his art. In doing so, she also gives many different voices—from Titian's lifetime to today—free reign to explore, praise, and sometimes doubt his genius.
When Titian died in 1576, in his late eighties, he had spent the whole of his working life in Venice—the most celebrated city in Europe—traveling as little as possible despite the clamor for his presence at the great courts of the continent. He had witnessed wars, Ottoman invasions, and the rising Protestant threat to the Catholic Church. He had become the favored painter of both Charles V—the most powerful man in the world—and his son, Philip II of Spain, who became Titian's most important patron.
Sheila Hale's masterly biography presents Titian through the lens of the turbulent times in which he lived and explores how this innovative sixteenth-century master conveyed in his paintings a kind of truth that few other artists have been able to communicate, which has fascinated Titian's admirers and followers ever since.
"Drawing upon her experience as research assistant to the celebrated Renaissance historian John Hale (her late husband), Hale frames her first foray into historical scholarship by tracing one artist's life to inform an epic biography of the Most Serene Republic of Venice. Compelling and well-researched, the book follows the career of Titian, an 'explorer in paint,' whose popularity reaches from the 16th century until today. Vivid descriptions of Renaissance Venice read like a firsthand account of food halls where 'caged birds... sang among the fruit and vegetables' and citywide pageants that, 'like prostitutes, outclassed and outnumbered' those in other cities. Hale presents Titian as a rural-born homebody who witnessed the intrigue of foreign courts and encountered greats such as Michelangelo, architect Jacopo Sansovino, and baroque painter Tintoretto. If anything gets short shrift, it's the paintings themselves. One is left wondering, for example, why the Annunciation painting in Treviso 'doesn't really work.' Hale's research benefits from recent cleanings and restorations of Titian's work, but she imparts her own expertise, for instance, in surmising that Titian's son, Orazio, may have been the painter of the portrait of Pietro Bembo in Rome. Fully aware of our need to believe in artistic genius, Hale (The Man Who Lost His Language) successfully utilizes Titian's career as a touchstone for events that carried Venice away from the Middle Ages and into the early modern period. Two 16-page color inserts. Agent: Anne Engel." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
and#160;Titian is best known for paintings that embodied the tradition of the Venetian Renaissanceandmdash;but how Venetian was the artist himself? In this comprehensive new study, Tom Nichols probes the tensions between the individualism of Titianandrsquo;s work and the conservative cultural and political mores of the city, revealing his art to be original inventions that undermine the traditional self-suppressing approach to painting in Venice. Rather, Nichols argues, Titianandrsquo;s works reflected his engagement with the individualistic cultures emerging in the courts of early modern Europe.
Ranging widely across Titianandrsquo;s long career and varied works, Titian and the End of the Venetian Renaissance outlines his stylistic independence from his master, Giovanni Bellini, early in his career; his radical innovations to the traditional Venetian altarpiece; his transformation of portraits into artistic creations glorifying the individual; and his meteoric breakout from the confines of artistic culture in Venice. Nichols explores how Titian challenged the cityandrsquo;s communal values with his competitive professional identity, contending that his intensely personalized way of painting after 1550 set him apart from earlier artists and was done deliberately to defy the emulation of would-be followersandmdash;a departure that effectively brought an end to the Renaissance tradition of painting. Packed with 170 illustrations, this groundbreaking book will change the way people look at Titian and Venetian art history.and#160;
The first definitive biography of the master painter in more than a century, Titian: His Life is being hailed as a "landmark achievement" for critically acclaimed author Sheila Hale (Publishers Weekly). Brilliant in its interpretation of the 16th-century master's paintings, this monumental biography of Titian draws on contemporary accounts and recent art historical research and scholarship, some of it previously unpublished, providing an unparalleled portrait of the artist, as well as a fascinating rendering of Venice as a center of culture, commerce, and power. Sheila Hale's Titian is destined to be this century's authoritative text on the life of greatest painter of the Italian High Renaissance.
About the Author
Sheila Hale has known and often lived in Venice since 1965, when she began as a research assistant to the late John Hale, with whom she worked on Renaissance Venice and The Civilization of Europe in the Renaissance. Her guidebook to Venice, first published in 1984, was praised by David Lodge as "the best guidebook I have ever used" and by Eric Newby as "deserving a Nobel Prize." She has written other guidebooks, an architectural history of Verona, and articles for a number of papers, including the New York Times, the London Observer, and the Times Literary Supplement. Her book The Man Who Lost His Language was described by Brenda Maddox as "enlarging the language of love" and by Michael Frayn as "a triumph." Sheila Hale is a trustee of Venice in Peril and lives in Twickenham, England.
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