CF STUDIES JOURNAL 06 - Page 37



34
Boilly at the Wallace Collection
35
In Memory of Mary Beckinsale
Paintings of the Man of Sorrows
by Titian and his studio, II
1
PAU L JOAN N I DES
VI. TITIAN’S TWO PAINTINGS OF THE MATER
DOLOROSA FOR CHARLES V
Fig. 1 / Titian, Man of
Sorrows, 1547, oil on slate,
69 x 56 cm, Madrid, Museo
Nacional del Prado.
A few years after its arrival in Augsburg in 1548,
Charles V’s Man of Sorrows (fig. 1) painted by Titian
on slate was paired with a Mater Dolorosa on wood
executed by Michael Coxcie, probably based on a
Flemish fifteenth-century prototype. Charles seems
to have felt Flemish fifteenth-century art to be the
touchstone of piety, and pendant panels of the Man
of Sorrows and the Mater Dolorosa had been painted
by several artists including Dieric Bouts, Hugo van
der Goes and Hans Memling.2 In 1553, perhaps
piqued that his Man of Sorrows had been paired
with a painting by Coxcie, Titian dispatched to the
emperor a Mater Dolorosa (fig. 2), rather Memlingesque in arrangement, also on wood, no doubt as a
replacement pendant, which demonstrates that he
was, at least on this occasion, prepared to pair pictures
executed on different supports. But this pairing does
not seem to have found favour and a year later, in
October 1554, at the emperor’s request, Titian sent
him a second Mater Dolorosa (fig. 3), now painted on
marble, based on a model that Charles had provided
– a model that has not been identified but which, to
judge from Titian’s rendering, was of considerable
intensity, and perhaps by – or by a painter close to –
Rogier van der Weyden.3 Nevertheless, despite Titian’s
concession to his patron’s wishes, we learn from the
emperor’s posthumous inventory of 1558-1559 that
the two paintings on stone by Titian had not then
been united. Titian’s Man of Sorrows on slate remained
paired with Michael Coxcie’s Mater Dolorosa on wood,
and his Mater Dolorosa on marble was paired with a
Man of Sorrows, again by Michael Coxcie and again
on wood. Titian’s Mater Dolorosa on wood remained
unaccompanied, an isolated image of the Virgin’s
suffering.4 As an aside, it might be worth underlining
that if this sequence of events and relations were not
documented in surviving letters and inventories, it
would have been impossible to reconstruct.5
It was only after Charles V’s death that Titian’s Man
of Sorrows on slate and Mater Dolorosa on marble were
detached from Coxcie’s panels and united, as Titian
intended. They were transferred to the Escorial in
1571-1574 by Philip II and placed in the Sacristy,
where they remained until Philip’s death.6 Shortly
thereafter they were returned to the Alcázar in
Madrid: they are recorded there in July 1600 and can
be followed in various inventories up to the present.7
It would be reasonable to expect that copies of them
would have been made but, as already noted in Part I,
whether this happened is debateable. No early Spanish
copies of Charles V’s Man of Sorrows are extant and
as for the two versions of the Mater Dolorosa, there
is only a coarsened pastiche of the first example,
probably of the seventeenth century, in the Iglesia
Vieja of Escorial which will be discussed below. No
autograph or studio repetitions of the Mater Dolorosa
on marble are recorded.8

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