CAT 109 J. Linnell after Titian. Landscape, with Herdsmen. Engraved for The Royal Gallery of Pictures, 1840, from the painting at Buckingham Palace. Melville Memorial Room, Berkshire Athenaeum.
Titian (Tiziano Vecellio, c. 1485-1576) was born into the world of Ariosto, Sebastiano, and Raphael and lived into the world of Tasso and Veronese. He was a native of Cadore in northern Italy at the foot of the Alps, but he had already become the leading painter of Venice by 1511, when Sebastiano left for Rome one year after the death of Giorgione. Titian’s prominence in Venice was permanently established by the Assumption of the Virgin in the high altar of Saint Maria Glorioso del Frari in 1518. By then he had also become a fixture at the court of Duke Alfonso I at Ferrara, where he had painted the famous bacchanals in the camerino of the Duke’s castle in 1516. His work for Duke Alfonso resulted in a friendship with the poet Ariosto, whose portrait he painted several times, one of which was engraved for the “definitive third edition” of Orlando Furioso in which Ariosto gives equal praise to Sebastiano del Piombo, Raphael, and Titian as “the boast respectively of Venice, Urbino, and Cadore” (Looney, 432; Ariosto 33:3; Wethey 2: cat. nos. 7, 40, X-7, and X-110). Titian also received important commissions from the sister of Duke Alfonso, Isabella d’Este, and from “her son Frederico II Gonzaga.” Frederico “offered” Titian “patronage at Mantua, as did Isabella’s daughter Eleanora, Duchess of Urbino, at her court” (Gould 34). The latter resulted in the famous Venus of Urbino, which the family later donated to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. From the mid-1540s to the end of his life Titian’s primary patrons were Emperor Charles V and King Philip II of Spain. Throughout his dealings with the courts of Ferrara, Mantua, Urbino, and Madrid, Titian maintained his primary residence and studio in Venice.