Table of contents:
- About Titian
- Allegory of Time, Driven by Prudence
- Versions of the symbolism of human portraits
- Versions of animal symbolism
Video: What is encrypted in the symbols of Titian's "Allegory of Prudence": Versions and controversies about the painting of the great artist
2023 Author: Richard Flannagan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-26 05:58
Titian Vecellio, better known as Titian, was a Venetian Renaissance painter. Many masterpieces belong to his brush. The mysterious painting "Allegory of Prudence" requires special attention - it is a mysterious image of three human portraits and three animals. The masters of the Renaissance were very fond of hiding many mysteries in their works! What versions of the meaning of the allegory could Titian hide in his painting?
Titian is recognized as the greatest painter of Venice in the 16th century. He was the first artist of his time, who had most of the customers from abroad. Titian was born in Pieve di Cadore, a small town at the foot of the Dolomites. Titian's father, Gregorio, was a military man. His older brother, Francesco, also became an artist. At the age of 10, Titian arrived in Venice, then one of the richest and most cosmopolitan cities in the world, and began his artistic training in the mosaic workshop of Sebastiano Zuccato. Later he studied in the workshops of Gentile Bellini and his brother Giovanni Bellini. The studio of the latter, by the way, at that time was the most respected in Venice. Acquaintance with Giorgione, who was also part of the workshop of Giovanni Bellini, allowed Titian to create his own unique style, corresponding to the early work of the master. By 1511, Titian began his independent career in Venice. His style has now reached maturity, full of sophisticated forms, compositional confidence and chromatic balance.
These features made his work fundamental to the development of Venetian as well as European painting, and the acquired skills attracted the attention of the intellectually ambitious Italian princes and aristocrats who commissioned portraits from Titian. In addition, the artist was commissioned to create prestigious religious paintings. The Venetian success was marked by the execution of the altarpiece for the Franciscan church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari. The so-called "Assunta" (Assumption of the Virgin Mary), which is almost seven meters high, was shown in 1518. From that time until his advanced years, Titian bathed in the glory and success of his work.
Allegory of Time, Driven by Prudence
The allegorical painting was painted shortly before Titian's death from the plague in 1576. The exact title of the painting is “Allegory of Time, Driven by Prudence”. It was created by Titian in 1565-1570 and is one of the most memorable paintings by Titian to be found in the National Gallery in London.
The visual formulation of the theme of prudence and time by Titian is so unique that it had no direct predecessors or followers.
The key to deciphering the allegory of the picture lies in the inscription in the upper part of it: "Ex praeterito praesens predenter agit, ni futurum actione deturpet" "RELYING ON THE PAST, THE PRESENT DOES RANELY IN ORDER NOT TO HARM THE FUTURE from the past." present so that the future is not spoiled. The Three Ages of a Woman by Gustav Klimt is a very close allegorical work that appeared many centuries later.
Versions of the symbolism of human portraits
The painting depicts three human heads: an old man, a mature man and a young man, towering over three animal heads.
1. Erwin Panofsky in 1930 offers his own interpretation of the three main portraits. He identifies the left profile as a self-portrait of Titian, the central face as Titian's youngest son, the painter Orazio Vecellio, and the right profile as Titian's distant relative and assistant Marco Vecellio.
2. Three main portraits can symbolize time: Titian's self-portrait represents the past and old age. In the center, Orazio, his son, represents the present and maturity. Right - Marco Vecellio, his cousin, represents the future and youth. Marco symbolizes the future in the picture, because Titian had no grandchildren and he, being the youngest, was supposed to receive an inheritance after Titian's death. On a more general level, the depiction of Titian in the painting with his son and nephew (who worked with him) is a defense of the Venetian tradition of continuity in the creative dynasty.
3. It is very noticeable that each face in the picture is depicted in different styles. The left face belongs to the so-called "late style" of Titian. 4. More recently, a different point of view was proposed: instead of an allegory of prudence, the picture was perceived as an allegory about sin and repentance. If this theory is correct, then the painting is Titian's personal reflection of his inability to act prudently in his youth and maturity, leading to his regret about past actions in old age.
Versions of animal symbolism
1. Below the portraits there is a three-headed figure depicting a wolf, a lion and a dog. The National Gallery, which owns this painting, describes the three-headed beast at the foot of the painting with the wolf, lion and dog as a symbol of prudence. These portraits can also symbolize memories, intelligence, and foresight. 2. Under human heads are the heads of three animals: the wolf feeds on the memories of the past, the lion is the strength with which it is necessary to live the present, while the dog, able to flatter, seems to look into the future with indifference. Three animal heads were previously identified with the Alexandrian god Serapis, popular in Egyptian and pseudo-hieroglyphic literature of the Renaissance. This tricephalic creature, combined with the serpent surrounding him, originated as an attribute of Serapis and became a generally accepted symbol of the times.
Thus, all possible versions were considered regarding the symbolism of images of people and animals on this mysterious canvas of the genius Titian. What was the true prerequisite for the creation of the picture - for sure, it will remain a mystery to us. In any case, as the researcher of Titian Panofsky's paintings insisted, this work should be considered as a document of the most personal nature, an expression of dynastic hope - a hope that will never be realized.
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