Titian is best known for paintings that embodied the tradition of the Venetian Renaissance—but how Venetian was the artist himself? In this comprehensive new study, Tom Nichols probes the tensions between the individualism of Titian’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, Titian’s works reflected his engagement with the individualistic cultures emerging in the courts of early modern Europe.
Ranging widely across Titian’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 city’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 followers—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.