CF STUDIES JOURNAL 06 - Page 42



40
Paintings of the Man of Sorrows by Titian and his studio
Fig. 6 / Luca Bertelli?, after
Titian, Mater Dolorosa, early
1560s, engraving on paper,
38.5 x 31.2 cm, London, The
British Museum.
Fig. 7 / Luca Bertelli?, after
Titian, Man of Sorrows, early
1560s, engraving on paper,
38.5 x 31.2 cm, London, The
British Museum.
Paintings of the Man of Sorrows by Titian and his studio
The pair painted by Titian for Philip is apparently
lost. To complicate matters, the evidence for the two
pictures’ appearance requires filtering. Thus, Wethey
accepted that the Mater Dolorosa and Man of Sorrows are
recorded in two large engravings (figs. 6 & 7; at 38.5 x
31.2 cm, about half the size of the paintings) issued by
the Veronese printmaker and publisher Luca Bertelli.11
Whether Bertelli acted as publisher and engraver or
only as publisher is uncertain, but the latter is more
likely. Bertelli seems to have worked – but not closely,
unlike Cort – with Titian from the late 1560s onwards,
when these engravings are generally dated; they were
presumably made after drawn records or repetitions.12
It is clear that the images they record were conceived
as a pair, for while their backgrounds differ somewhat,
the light which falls strongly from the left, and
which casts deep shadows, unifies them. But when
compared with surviving painted renderings of these
types, the engravings cannot be deemed trustworthy.
Both figures sport halos larger and brighter than
those in any other picture by Titian and these are
presumably the engraver’s inventions – or those of the
draughtsman who made the drawings from which
the prints were cut. Furthermore, while the engraved
Mater Dolorosa is similar in form to the ex-Brooklyn
Mater Dolorosa, and to the other versions of that type,
the Man of Sorrows differs considerably from all other
examples of this Man of Sorrows type by Titian and his
studio, and from the copies that survive in Spain. In
the engraving Christ’s drapery falls in a double lap
below His bound wrists and the cord winds three times
around them and hangs down in complicated loops.
Such elaboration, which does not recur elsewhere in
Titian’s work, suggests that the engraver “decorated”
Titian’s compositions which, in turn, means that the
prints, while conveying a general idea of what Titian
conceived, cannot be trusted for precise information.13
Engravings, especially when cut by engravers with
artistic pretensions need to be treated with particular
caution for they are likely to improve their models.14
Fig. 8 / Unidentified painter
after Titian, Man of Sorrows,
original ca. 1556, oil on
canvas, 84 x 65 cm, Avila,
Cathedral Museum.
Fig. 9 / Unidentified painter
after Titian, Mater Dolorosa,
original ca. 1556, oil on
canvas, 84 x 65 cm, Avila,
Cathedral Museum.
If the engravings cannot be relied upon – or
relied upon fully – is there other evidence for the
appearance of this pair? As Wethey pointed out,
there is a Man of Sorrows and a Mater Dolorosa (figs. 8
& 9) in the Cathedral Museum in Avila and these
canvases, while hardly masterpieces are, pace Wethey,
41
better than “wretched” and more probably of the
seventeenth than the eighteenth century.15 This pair
is virtually certainly, as Wethey thought, a replica
of that owned by Philip, but the space surrounding
the figures suggests that they may be a little enlarged
from their prototypes.

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