Paintings of the Man of Sorrows by Titian and his studio
Paintings of the Man of Sorrows by Titian and his studio
Four autograph or studio variants of the “Philipian type” of
the Man of Sorrows are known at present; they fall into two
different sizes and none can be connected to a patron. All
are on canvas, so it is doubtful if any of them was paired
with the ex-Brooklyn panel of the Mater Dolorosa, which
presumably either functioned as an independent image,
or was paired with a now-lost Man of Sorrows on wood.38
Two of these paintings are very close to one another
in form: in both Christ’s hair bifurcates on His right
shoulder, the fall of His robe over His hand follows
the same path, and the cane crosses over the drapery
at a slightly steeper angle. One of these is the Man
of Sorrows in the Iglesia Vieja of the Escorial, already
mentioned (see fig. 12). In its present condition and
at its present distance from the viewer, it cannot be
judged satisfactorily and Wethey – who, it will be
remembered, thought it a post-Napoleonic replacement
for a canvas stolen or destroyed – wavered between
“a ruined original, now dark and badly damaged...
or an old copy”.39 It is currently inventoried as a
later copy.40 The other is a canvas in Milan (fig. 15), a
two-thirds reduction presented by Cardinal Federico
Borrommeo to the Ambrosiana in 1618 but whose
earlier provenance is unknown.41
Fig. 16 / Titian, Man of Sorrows
(detail page 65), ca. 1558, oil
on canvas, 74 x 64 cm, Alnwick
Castle, Northumberland
Fig. 15 / Titian and/or Studio,
Man of Sorrows, 1557?, oil
on canvas, 52 x 44 cm, Milan,
Pinacoteca Ambrosiana.
Fig. 17 / Titian, Man of Sorrows,
ca. 1563, oil on canvas, 53 x 41
cm, USA, Private Collection.
What are the statuses of the Ambrosiana and Escorial
versions of the Man of Sorrows? They are similar but not
identical. Christ’s head is a little more upright in the
latter, the run of the cord over His wrists is varied, the
fall of His hair on the left, and the traces of the flails
on His torso and dribbles of blood from the crowning
with thorns are differently distributed. Their techniques
also differ: the Ambrosiana canvas, unadventurous in
execution, is generally considered to be a copy, but it
is solidly painted and might have been produced in
Titian’s studio under his supervision; until it is examined
technically and cleaned, it would be unwise to risk a
judgement. Its manner is that of Titian’s work of ca.
1560 and such a date is also suggested by the canvas
weave, which is similar to that of the Ambrosiana’s
Adoration of the Magi.42 The Escorial canvas is executed
in the more broken manner of the slightly later Titian.


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