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.
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‘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 painter’s 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
‘Nichols’s book takes readers through Titian’s career in a chronological and thematic progression. His conclusions are consistently thought-provoking, engaging, and often heterodox, stressing difference, contrast and the uniqueness of Titian’s 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
‘Nichols’s book offers the kind of free-flowing and deeply intelligent analysis of a painter’s 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 Nichols’s and Titian’s 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
Tom Nichols is Reader in the History of Art at the University of Glasgow and author of Tintoretto: Tradition and Identity (Reaktion, 1999), The Art of Poverty (2007) and Renaissance Art (2010).