Colnaghi Foundation Journal 04 - Page 90

Titian’s paintings of the Salvator Mundi and Temptation of Christ and their patrons
Fig. 8 / Francesco Bissolo, Christ
as Salvator Mundi, ca. 1514, oil
on wood, 37 x 36 cm, present
whereabouts unknown.
Fig. 9 / Andrea Previtali, Christ
as Salvator Mundi, signed and
dated 1519, oil on wood, 62 x
53 cm, London, The National
In short, rather than taking Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi as
his model, Titian deliberately placed his Christ within
a Venetian tradition. Titian had, of course, already
established in 1515-1516 in the Tribute Money, painted for
Alfonso d’Este and now in Dresden (fig. 10), the noble
and refined type of the Saviour’s face; he developed
this in the ‘Darnley’ and Vienna paintings, in which he
fused – one is tempted to say incomparably – authority
and compassion, divinity and humanity.17 Unfortunately,
we have no further information about either of Federico
Gonzaga’s Christs, and since the provenances of the
‘Darnley’ panel and the Vienna canvas begin only
in the mid-seventeenth and late eighteenth centuries
respectively, the possibility that these were the Duke of
Mantua’s pictures cannot yet be confirmed.
Titian’s paintings of the Salvator Mundi and Temptation of Christ and their patrons
Some three decades later Titian returned to the
subject, in the beautiful Salvator Mundi in the
Hermitage (fig. 11), which broadly reprises the
composition of the ‘Darnley’ version.18 Although
it is not fully finished, it seems to be a work of
the 1560s rather than his final years. Whether
it was painted in response to a commission
or undertaken on Titian’s own initiative, is
conjectural; similarly conjectural is why it was
not fully completed. Christ is a little less formally
arranged than in the prototype. His draperies are
softer and simpler, and His head is inclined a little
to the viewer’s left; in these features it ref lects a
related variant that Titian had painted a decade
or so earlier.
Fig. 10 / Titian, The Tribute
Money, 1515-1516, oil on
wood, 75 x 56 cm, Dresden,
Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche
Towards the end of his sojourn in Augsburg between
August-September 1548, Titian executed a Man of
Sorrows for Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle. Granvelle,
who made a practice of acquiring versions of pictures
painted by Titian for his masters, had understandably
been impressed by the painting on slate that Titian
had just presented to the emperor. Subsequently,
from Venice, Titian sent Granvelle a second Christ.
We have an extensive correspondence between
patron and painter about these pictures but, because
several letters overlapped and others are lost, it is
unsynchronized and the course of events is not easy
to unravel; nor is it always clear which paintings are
being discussed.


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