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280 × 210 × 24 mm
336 pages
170 illustrations, 100 in colour
01 Nov 2013
  • £50.00

  • This edition is currently unavailable

Titian and the End of the Venetian Renaissance Tom Nichols

Titian’s works are often seen as embodying the famous tradition of Venetian Renaissance painting. But how ‘Venetian’ was Titian, and can his unique works be taken as truly representative of his adoptive city? This comprehensive new study, covering Titian’s long career and varied output, highlights the tensions between the individualism of his work and the conservative mores of Venice. Titian and the End of the Venetian Renaissance argues that Titian’s works were self-consciously original, freely and intentionally undermining the traditional, more modest approach to painting in Venice – a position that frequently caused disputes with local artists and patrons. 

This book charts Titian’s early stylistic independence from his master Giovanni Bellini, his radical innovations to the classical altarpiece and his meteoric break from the normal confines of Venice’s artistic culture. Titian competitively cultivated a professional identity and his dynamic career was epitomized by the development of his ‘late style’, which set him apart from all predecessors and was intended to defy emulation by any followers. It was through this final individualistic departure that Titian effectively brought the Renaissance tradition of painting to an end. This ground-breaking interpretation will be of interest to all scholars and students of Renaissance and Venetian art history.

To download some sample pages from Titian please click here.

‘This highly original study prises Titian away from the Venetian tradition, arguing that his works rebelled against their local context far more often than they cosied up to it. Nichols discerns the painters strident individualism throughout his career, from his early efforts to break with his master, Giovanni Bellini, to his formal experiments with the classical altarpiece and, ultimately, in his inimitable late style.’ — Apollo

‘Nicholss book takes readers through Titians career in a chronological and thematic progression. His conclusions are consistently thought-provoking, engaging, and often heterodox, stressing difference, contrast and the uniqueness of Titians work . . . [a] nicely illustrated and well-produced volume . . . offers a challenging alternative view of one of the most important artists of the Italian Renaissance. Recommended.’ — Choice

‘Nicholss book offers the kind of free-flowing and deeply intelligent analysis of a painters career that can only be produced after long study and intimate familiarity with his subject. It is beautifully written and generously illustrated, and you feel both Nicholss and Titians minds working at every turn’ — Canadian Society for Renaissance Studies

‘original and provocative’ — Charles Hope, Burlington Magazine

‘a richly illustrated and beautifully written essay’ — Renaissance Studies

‘Attractively produced to Reaktion Books usual high standards’ — Art Newspaper

‘It is a challenging thesis, one that makes this book essential reading by art historians’ — Renaissance Quarterly

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Tom Nichols is Reader in History of Art at the University of Glasgow. His previous books for Reaktion include Tintoretto: Tradition and Identity (2015) and Titian and the End of the Venetian Renaissance (2013).


Titian’s Last Painting: The Sight of Death
An Inglorious Passing; or, The Difficult Case of the Pietà

How ‘Venetian’ was Titian?

Surrogate Monuments to the Leader of a Tradition

ONE: Art as Appropriation: The Rise of Titian

Giovanni Bellini: The Model Venetian

Bellini and Titian: Master and Pupil

Titian and the Venetian Istoria

Titian and Giorgione

Giorgione and Titian’s Early Portraiture

The Early Mythologies

Titian Repaints Palma Vecchio

TWO: Remaking Tradition: Icons and Altarpieces

Anachronic Titian

The Modern Icon

The Cultural Dynamics of Space in Two Altarpieces for Venice

Private Values in a Public Picture Type

Altarpiece or Artwork?

THREE: Portraiture and Non-venezianità

Portraiture in Renaissance Venice

Titian’s Portraits to 1530: Accommodation of the Courts

Habsburg and Related Portraits of the 1530s

Historical Portraits

Natura Potentior Ars

FOUR: Sacred Painting, the Poesie and the Late Style

Titian as Tradition

Titian’s Hybrid Poesie

Two Late Mythologies

Early Responses to Titian’s Late Style

The Late Style in Critical and Historical Perspective

FIVE: Titian and Venice: Surviving the Father of Art

Patrons and Prices

Titian versus the Rest: A Literary Self-image

Pictor et eques: Titian’s Self-portraits

Images of Succession

Images of Attachment

The Darker Side of Titian; or, The Anti-image

Venetian Responses to Titian: Veronese and Tintoretto


Titian and the End of the Venetian Renaissance

Titian in Disguise




Photo Acknowledgements