Paintings of the Man of Sorrows by Titian and his studio
Fig. 22 / Unidentified
engraver after Titian?,
Man of Sorrows, original
ca. 1562?, support and
dimensions unrecorded,
Formerly collection of
Lucien Bonaparte, recorded
in Choix de gravures à l’eau
forte d’après les peintures de
Lucien Bonaparte (London:
Bulmer, 1812).
Fig. 23 / After Titian?,
Man of Sorrows, ca. 1562,
support and dimensions
unrecorded, Formerly
Vendramin Collection,
recorded in Sloane MSS
4004, London, British
His arms are held a little more horizontally than in
other versions, with His right wrist bound over His
left, and with a rather complex arrangement of cords.
The drapery is more extensive than before, covering
His right shoulder and, possibly for the first time,
rising up His left arm above the elbow. A trickle of
blood falls on His right breast, but the consequences
of the Crowning are not stressed. The effect is to
reduce the emphasis on Christ’s physique. His head
tilts downwards at three quarters left, eschewing the
near profile of earlier types. Like the Northumberland
Man of Sorrows, Christ has an intensely glowing halo,
roughly pentagonal, with strongly protruding lateral
rays. His cane is shown in two positions: either the
canvas was never fully finished and, presumably,
remained in Titian’s studio, or else it has at some
time been cleaned so enthusiastically as to expose a
pentimento – the copy in Sarasota, which follows the
lower position, implies the latter. The Dublin Man of
Sorrows, whose figural arrangement is exceptionally
effective, is a fascinating example of Titian’s creative
vitality; a date of ca. 1560 is generally accepted,
but the broken contour, especially visible on the
left shoulder, and the blurring of edges on His right
forearm, suggest rather the middle of that decade.53
Titian, or a member of his studio, may also have
produced a slightly modified variant, although our only
evidence for this is a print issued in 1812, when the Man
of Sorrows in question was in the collection of Lucien
Bonaparte (fig. 22).54 There is little change in the pose,
but Christ’s drapery is modified: a narrow section of
cloak falls from His left – rather than right – shoulder
and another section winds about His right, rather than
left, elbow. But no judgement on Lucien’s painting is
possible unless or until it reappears. A further variant,
attributed to Titian, but more probably after Veronese,
Paintings of the Man of Sorrows by Titian and his studio
is recorded in the illustrated catalogue of the Collection
of Andrea Vendramin, on fol. 12 (fig. 23) but about this
there seems to be no further information.55 As far as we
know, the Dublin type of the Man of Sorrows was never
accompanied by a Mater Dolorosa.
The other “new” composition is the well-known Sibiu
Man of Sorrows; at 66 x 53 cm it is effectively a midsize canvas (fig. 24).56 This painting too is distinctive
in arrangement. Christ is shown in a frontal and
still pose and His right forearm, covering His left,
is held horizontally, paralleling the lower edge of
the canvas. As in the Dublin painting, Christ’s
right shoulder is covered with drapery, as is His left
arm, but in a more strikingly angular arrangement,
opening a rectangle of f lesh over His torso, the left
two thirds of which His cane traverses at forty-five
degrees, like the Dublin picture, but coordinated with
the new arrangement of Christ’s drapery; running
diagonally from the lower right to the upper right
corner, it bisects this rectangle and communicates
an impression of firmness. Strikingly, although this
painting shares motifs with the “reversed” Dublin
arrangement, Christ looks to His left, not down to His
right. His head is held erect and His gaze is outward
and commanding. This is Christ superior to His
sufferings, evincing His authority as King of Kings;
the angularity of the drapery organization subliminally
reinforces this effect.
The Sibiu Man of Sorrows, thinly painted, would be
close in date to the Dublin picture, around the mid1560s. Its first identifiable owner was Bartolomeo della
Nave from whom it passed to the Duke of Hamilton
and thence to Archduke Leopold Wilhelm, in whose
collection it appears in a gallery view by Teniers,
known in two versions.57 In Teniers’s renderings it is
accompanied by a Mater Dolorosa of the “Philipian” or
“Brooklyn type”, apparently of identical size (fig. 25).
This Mater Dolorosa, also on canvas, shared the Della
Nave and Hamilton provenance of the Man of Sorrows
and was listed in both their collections as an original.
But by the 1659 inventory of the Archduke Leopold
Wilhelm – rather surprisingly – it had become a copy.
Whatever the explanation of the perceived inferiority of
the Mater Dolorosa – and this may have been a matter of
condition rather than quality – it was etched in Prenner
and Stampart (1735) as their plate 28 but is now lost.58
No early versions of the Sibiu painting are recorded but
a similar painting, amplified by the inclusion of a head to
the right of Christ, was known to Van Dyck who copied
it (fig. 26) in his Italian Sketchbook and also owned it.59


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