Paintings of the Man of Sorrows by Titian and his studio
The Prado also owns copies which appear to record
the same originals: the Man of Sorrows (fig. 10; 78 x 58
cm, reasonably close in size to the Avila copy), on loan
to Ciudad Real, and the Mater Dolorosa (fig. 11).16 The
two seem to be by different hands and their inventory
numbers indicate that they entered the Prado
separately. The difference between them in height
might suggest that they originated from two different
pairs of copies – unless the Mater Dolorosa has been
Fig. 10 / Unidentified
painter after Titian, Man of
Sorrows, original ca. 1556,
oil on canvas, 78 x 58 cm,
Madrid, Museo Nacional
del Prado, on loan to
Ciudad Real.
Fig. 11 / Unidentified
painter after Titian, Mater
Dolorosa, original ca. 1556,
oil on canvas, 67 x 56 cm,
Madrid, Museo Nacional
del Prado.
If we can be reasonably confident about the
appearance of Philip’s Man of Sorrows and Mater
Dolorosa, their history is shadowy. According to
Wethey, the earliest secure mention of the two comes
in the account of the Escorial by Padre Sigüenza,
who locates them in the room behind the Sacristy
and adds that engravings had been made after them
– not true of the paired Christ and the Addolorata of
Charles V – and that many copies of them existed.18
If Sigüenza does indeed refer to the pair on canvas,
it seems that shortly after he wrote, and certainly by
July 1600, they too had been transferred – or taken
back – to the Alcázar, so the first secure reference to
Paintings of the Man of Sorrows by Titian and his studio
them would actually be one year later, hardly a matter
of great moment. But it may be that Sigüenza actually
saw Charles V’s pair on stone and that Philip’s two
canvases had remained at the Alcázar in Madrid and
were never installed in the Escorial, for no record
confirms that they were sent there.19 Whatever the
truth of the matter, Philip’s pendants are most fully
recorded in the 1636 inventory of the Alcázar, when
they were in the King’s oratory [602 and 603]:
Our Lord and the Virgin Mary. Two oils
on canvas, by the hand of Titian, with
black and gilded frames, almost one vara
wide and a little more than one vara high,
in which are painted, in the one an Ecce
Homo with hands tied holding a cane,
and in the other Our Lady, her fingers
enlaced one over the other with a mantle
over her shoulders.20
Wethey, not finding these pendants in the posthumous
inventory of Philip IV of 1666, concluded that they
had in the interim been transferred – or returned – to
the Escorial; he writes:
These two pictures later disappear from the
Alcázar, a fact explained by Philip IV’s gift of
Titian’s Ecce Homo and Dolorosa to the Escorial
where they were placed over the same artist’s
Adoration of the Shepherds (sic) and Entombment
respectively in the Iglesia Vieja...Thereafter
the same pictures are recorded in the same
place throughout the following century...
Their disappearance during the occupation of
the Escorial by the French Napoleonic troops
marks the end of the story.21
Fig. 12 / Titian and/or Studio,
Man of Sorrows, early 1560s,
oil on canvas, 76 x 58 cm,
Madrid, Escorial, The Iglesia
Fig. 13 / Seventeenth-Century?
Pasticheur of Titian, Mater
Dolorosa, oil on canvas, 77 x
56 cm, Madrid, Escorial, The
Iglesia Vieja.
While this conclusion is not inherently improbable,
Wethey offers no evidence that a theft – or destruction
– ever occurred. And the successive descriptions of the
Man of Sorrows and the Mater Dolorosa in the Iglesia Vieja
of the Escorial, from their first mention by Francisco
de los Santos in 1667 (but not in 1654) through later
accounts, are insufficiently precise to enable them to
be distinguished from the alternative candidates for
Philip IV’s gift: the Man of Sorrows (fig. 12, bearing
Inventory no. 473), and the Mater Dolorosa (fig. 13,
bearing Inventory no. 470) that remain in situ above
Titian’s large canvases of the Adoration of the Magi and
the Entombment (the latter a copy of Titian’s original
transferred to the Prado in 1837).22
Wethey believed the Man of Sorrows and Mater Dolorosa
presently in situ to be replacements for Philip II’s pair
and claimed that they were set in place only after the
expulsion of Napoleonic troops. But, once again, he
offered no evidence for his belief; all other scholars
seem to have accepted – tacitly rather than explicitly
– their identity with the canvases sent to the Escorial
by Philip IV and this, while it cannot be proven,
is probably correct.23 If Philip IV’s gift did indeed
comprise the two pictures currently in place, they were
clearly not created together. While the Iglesia Vieja’s
Man of Sorrows, which will be discussed below, seems a
product of, at least, Titian’s studio, the Iglesia Vieja’s
Mater Dolorosa is an evident – probably seventeenthcentury – pastiche of the first of the two versions of the
Mater Dolorosa sent to Charles V (see fig. 13), extended
to match the Man of Sorrows (see fig. 12) and with the
Virgin slightly more upright. The hue of her wimple
is distinctive, as is the complexity of her drapery and
the generally harsh colouring. The pairing is – and
presumably always was – ad hoc.24


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