Paintings of the Man of Sorrows by Titian and his studio
And a further difference needs to be stressed: Christ’s
robe in the Ambrosiana painting, which is undecorated,
is executed in fused and quite dense brushstrokes, the
modelling effective if somewhat perfunctory. In the
Escorial canvas, Christ’s robe is more thinly painted
and is animated by many tiny stripes, applied with
a fine brush, possibly indicating gold thread. As far
as I am aware, this technique recurs only, and not
in precisely the same form, in the Kunsthistorisches
Museum’s Man of Sorrows, to be discussed below;
imparting to the painting a textural liveliness, it might
well register the master’s intervention. When such
features are taken into account, it seems clear that
neither picture can be a copy – in the full sense of the
term ­– of the other, nor do both depend on a common
prototype, unless one allows the executant(s) unusual
latitude. It seems reasonable to propose that they are
autograph, partly autograph, or studio variants of the
“Philipian type”.
The third example of this type is that in the
Collection of the Duke of Northumberland at
Alnwick Castle (fig. 16), acquired with the Camuccini
Collection in which, incomprehensibly, it was
classed as by Tintoretto, whose name it carried until
recently.43 Its Roman provenance might suggest that
it is identical with the “...Christ Ecce Homo who holds
in his hand a cane by the hand of Titian” recorded
in the Aldobrandini Collection in 1626, but this
is probably a false trail.44 It is richly and densely
executed, and Christ has a glowing halo; the set of
His head is a little more upright than in the other
versions and the execution creates an impression of
great solidity. In publishing the Alnwick canvas, I
suggested for it a date ca. 1560, but I am now inclined
to think it was painted a trif le earlier, ca. 1557-1558,
contemporary with the Ancona Crucifixion.
Fig. 18 / Titian (and
Studio?), Man of Sorrows,
ca. 1560, oil on canvas,
64 x 47 cm, Vienna,
The Kunsthistorisches
A fourth Man of Sorrows, more tightly framed than
the others and virtually identical in dimensions to the
Ambrosiana version, is privately owned in the USA,
with a provenance via the London Art Market from
collections in France, Italy, and Switzerland (fig. 17).45
It seems to be of high quality and its existence further
substantiates that Titian issued the Man of Sorrows
Paintings of the Man of Sorrows by Titian and his studio
in – at least – two different sizes. Christ’s drapery is
quite summarily executed, with a pentimento visible to
the naked eye along the upper edge of the passage that
winds across His abdomen, and its arrangement differs
a little from the other three; His halo is more emphatic
than in the Escorial or Ambrosiana examples and closer
to the Northumberland canvas.46 Probably painted
in the second half of the 1560s – perhaps not fully
finished ­– it may be the latest example of the “Philipian
type” that Titian produced.
References to paintings of the Man of Sorrows in later
inventories and other documents imply that Titian
and/or his studio executed further examples of the
subject.47 It would be vain to speculate how many
versions of which types might have emerged from the
Biri Grande over the years, and previously unrecorded
paintings by Titian and his studio – or copies of such –
appear with sufficient frequency to enjoin caution. For
the present, however, it seems clear that Titian painted
at least four further variants of the Man of Sorrows and
that his inventiveness increased rather than decreased.
They differ in composition from each other and from
the various types discussed hitherto. None has so far
been connected with a patron.
Probably the earliest is a painting in the
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (fig. 18), which,
so far as I am aware, has been ignored in Titian
scholarship. Attributed to Titian’s workshop in the
museum’s catalogue, it is there dated ca. 1570, but my
impression is that it is about a decade earlier.48 Christ’s
body is reduced in size in relation to the picture-field
and extends a little further downwards than in most
other versions. Christ is placed frontally, and His
head is erect. His wrists are tied together at the lower
centre of the painting, not displaced to the viewer’s
right, and the cords that secure them, more elaborated
than in other examples, fall along the vertical axis.
Christ’s proper right arm is set at a more open angle
and His right hand, fully visible, more prominent than
elsewhere, cocooned in a scoop of drapery.


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