Synopses & Reviews
A compelling portrait of the life, work, and meaning of one of the greatest artists of all time.
Toward the end of his long life, Tiziano Vecelli—known to the world ever since as Titian (circa 1488- 1576)—was at work on a number of paintings that he kept in his studio, never quite completing them, as though wanting to endlessly postpone the moment of closure. Produced with his fingers as much as with the brush, Titians last paintings are imbued with a unique rawness and immediacy without precedent in the history of Western art. As if to further cloud their meaning, after the outbreak of plague that took his life, Titians studio was looted and many canvases were taken; what happened to them is not known.
But what did Titian, who had experienced as much in the way of material success and critical acclaim as any artist before or since, mean by these works? Titian: The Last Days is a quest through the great artists life and work toward the physical and spiritual landscape of his last paintings. Vividly re-creating the atmosphere of sixteenth-century Venice and Europe, Mark Hudson chronicles Titians relationships with his own mentors (Bellini and Giorgione), rivals, and patrons—among them popes, kings, and emperors— as well as his troubled dealings with his own family. Paralleling this narrative is Hudsons personal journey through Titians life and career, exploring the relentless formal development that led to the breakthroughs of his last days, and the mystery behind his missing paintings.
Moving from Titians hometown in the Dolomites to the greatest churches and palaces of the age, to Venice then and now, Titian: The Last Days is an original and compelling study of one of Europes greatest artists.
“Hudson employs a variety of strategies and tones in this remarkably engaging story. He is at times the pedagogue, the dazzled fan, the nervous tourist, the frustrated scholar, the disgusted critic (especially with verbose and pretentious art historians)…. Hudson does not neglect the artists personal life, filling us in on whats known about his love life and his children. Most captivating, however, is the authors own journey, from Venice to Spain to Czechoslovakia and elsewhere to follow the story of the great Italian painter. Intense passion and humble scholarship infuse this personal odyssey of discovery with arresting power.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“With wit, irreverence, a keen eye, and a shrewd imagination, Hudson recounts his fumbling search for fresh perspectives on Titian and shares his provocative discoveries.... Like a regal figure on an old, newly restored canvas, Titian, ‘a figure of almost limitless creativity, emerges resplendent from these lively pages.”—Booklist
About the Author
Mark Hudson is the author of two prizewinning works of nonfiction published in England: Our Grandmothers Drums, which won the Somerset Maugham and Thomas Cook awards in 1990, and Coming Back Brockens, which won the 1994 NCR Award, the precursor to the Samuel Johnson Prize for the best nonfiction book of the year. His novel, The Music in My Head, was published to critical acclaim in 1998. He is a regular contributor to the Telegraph and also writes for the Guardian, the Sunday Times, and other publications. He lives in London.