Colnaghi Foundation Journal 04 - Page 96

Titian’s paintings of the Salvator Mundi and Temptation of Christ and their patrons
Titian’s paintings of the Salvator Mundi and Temptation of Christ and their patrons
“... Altre volte mi donasti una imagine d’un Christo che
mi piaque sopra modo, unde son venuto in desiderio
de haverne un’altra simile, però vi prego siate contento
di volerla fare con quel studio et diligentia che solete
fare nelle cose de che dessiderate haverni honore et ne
le quali sapete di farmi piacer et altre ch’io desidero,
perché questa figura non habbi ad essere men bella et
buona di l’altra et che si possi chiamare delle eccellente
opere di Ticiano. Vorei anche vi pigliasti il tempo
di fare ch’io l’havessi per il giorno della Madona di
settembre ogni modo...”; see Diane H. Bodart, Tiziano e
Federico II Gonzaga, storia di un rapport di commitenza (Rome:
Bulzoni, 1998), no. 237, pp. 295-296; Lisa Zeitz, Tizian,
Teuerer Freund, Tizian und Federico Gonzaga, Kunstpatronage
in Mantua im 16 jahrhunderts (Petersberg: Imhof, 2000),
no. 234, pp. 202-203; Lionello Puppi, ed., Tiziano.
L’Epistolario (Florence: Alinari 24 Ore, 2012), no. 44, p.
86, with the most up-to-date discussion of the matter.
In preparing this article I have incurred many debts
to friends and colleagues; my thanks to: Noël Annesly,
Evelyn Brockmann, Niccolò Caderni, Wencke Dieters,
Olivia Ghosh, Claudia Kryza-Gersch,William Lorimer,
Maja Markovic, Patrick Noon, Andreas Pittas, Heidi
Raatz, Zuzanna Sarnecka, and Francesca del Torre.
During the final redaction, Carlo Corsato provided
vital help, as did Irene Brooke.
“Scrivemo l’aligata a Ticiano acciò ne facci haver uno
Christo di sua mano dilla sorte che gli mandiamo il
disegno. Volemo che lo solicitati che la facci con quella
excellentia che sapemo saperà et come anche altre volte
ne’n donete uno simile et usati ogni diligentia acciò
la potiamo havere a Nostra Dona di setembre che lo
voressimo portare con noi quando anderemo a Sua
Maestà.”; Bodart, Tiziano e Federico II Gonzaga, no. 236,
p. 295; Zeitz, Tizian, Teuerer Freund, no. 235, p. 203.
Bodart, Tiziano e Federico II Gonzaga, no. 238, p. 296;
Zeitz, Tizian, Teuerer Freund, no. 236, p. 203.
Charles Hope, “Studies in the Sources and Documents
Relating to the Life and Work of Titian,” 4 vols. (PhD
diss., University of Oxford, 1975), I, p. 65.
Oil on wood, 77 x 57 cm; see Laura Fiorentini in Tiziano
nelle Gallerie Fiorentini, eds. Mina Gregori et al., exh. cat.
(Florence: Palazzo Pitti, 1978-1979), no. 25, pp. 103-106.
On that day Francesco Maria acknowledged receipt
of the painting: see Georg Gronau, Documenti Artistici
Urbinati (Florence: G. C. Sansoni, 1936), no. xxvi, p. 91.
This is suggested by Hope, Studies, I, p. 64.
A version in Christ Church, Oxford which, thanks to the
kindness of Jacqueline Thalmann, I examined on 19 July
2017 (oil on canvas, 78 x 58 cm; gift of General Guise,
1765), succinctly characterized by James Byam Shaw,
Paintings by Old Masters at Christ Church, Oxford (London:
Phaidon, 1967), no. 81, p. 69 as a .”..bad copy in very
bad condition”, differs from the Pitti painting in a few
details of landscape and sky, but these probably indicate
the executant’s negligence, not a different prototype.
Christ in the ‘Darnley’ Salvator Mundi (often called Christ
Blessing or Christ Bestowing His Blessing), is very similar
in pose and type to Christ in the Yarborough Supper
at Emmaus, also on wood, and probably preceded the
completion of that painting. It was exhibited as by Titian
at the Grafton Galleries in 1909-1910: see Charles
Holroyd et al., A Catalogue of the Pictures and Drawings in
the National Loan Exhibition in aid of National Gallery Funds
held at the Grafton Galleries, London (1909-1910) (London,
1909), no. 91, mistakenly described as on canvas; and,
more significantly Ellis K. Waterhouse in Italian Art and
Britain, exh. cat. (London: The Royal Academy, 1960),
no. 87, p. 45. The painting was accepted by Rodolfo
Pallucchini, Tiziano, 2 vols. (Florence: G. C. Sansoni,
1969), I, pp. 274-275; II, fig. 252, as by Titian, ca.
1535-1540. Terisio Pignatti, Titian, the Complete Paintings,
2 vols. (London: Granada Publishing, 1981; original
edition Milan: Rizzoli, 1979) II, no. 578, p. 78, included
it among the attributed works, mistakenly as on canvas.
Harold Wethey, Titian, 3 vols. (London: Phaidon, 19691975), I, no. 1, p. 78, dating it ca. 1520-1530, dismissed it
as by a “minor follower of Giovanni Bellini”, a puzzling
verdict that suggests he knew it only from a photograph.
The picture was omitted by Francesco Valcanover in
both Tutta la Pittura di Tiziano, 2 vols. (Milan: Rizzoli,
1960) and Opera completa di Tiziano (Milan: Rizzoli, 1969).
Waterhouse, followed by Wethey and Pallucchini, noted
that this painting was recorded in 1648 by Carlo Ridolfi,
Le Meraviglie dell’Arte (1648), ed. Detlev von Hadeln, 2
vols. (Berlin: G. Grote, 1914-1924), I, p. 200, as in the
collection of Domenico Ruzzini. Waagen, although
he did not unequivocally accept the picture as by
Titian, described it as ..”.of noble character and of
extraordinary warmth in the full body of colour”;
see Gustave F. Waagen, Treasures of Art in Great Britain, 3
vols. (London: J. Murray, 1854), III, p. 19. Thanks to the
kindness of the present owners, I have examined this
picture at some length and under good light on several
occasions. It is, of course, in poor condition, as already
noted by Joseph Archer Crowe and Giovanni Battista
Cavalcaselle, The Life and Times of Titian, 2 vols. (London:
J. Murray, 1877), II, p. 429: “much injured this seems
to have been a good and genuine picture by Titian.”
However, it retains great power and poignancy and is, in
my judgment, the relic of an entirely autograph painting
which must once have been a masterpiece. The Della
Rovere and Gonzaga Adorations... both on wood, are
also in very poor condition and it may be that there was
some defect in Titian’s panel preparation at this period.
The Vienna canvas (inv. GG85), as Dr Francesca Del
Torre tells me, cannot securely be identified before its
appearance in Christian Mechel’s catalogue of 1783.
It was reproduced in all five editions of Oskar Fischel’s
Tizian Klassiker der Kunst, III, (Berlin and Leipzig:
Deutches Verlag), in the first three (1904, 1906, 1907)
dated ca. 1560, but in the last two (1911, 1924) ca. 1540.
Wilhelm Suida, Le Titien (Paris: W. Weber, 1936), pp.
61, 185 and pl. CCCVIIa, also accepted it and dated
it ca. 1540. It fell from favour thereafter and while
mentioned by Wethey, Titian, I, no. 20, p. 79, “somewhat
superior in quality to Lord Darnley’s...”; Pallucchini,
Tiziano, pp. 274-275, “variante più tarda di bottega...”
and Pignatti, Titian, II, no. 637, p. 94, was reproduced
by none of them; it was omitted by Valcanover. I have
not checked systematically the successive editions of
Bernard Berenson’s lists, but the Vienna painting is
included as by Titian in his Pitture Italiane del Rinascimento,
8 vols. (Florence: Sansoni, 1936), I, p. 489 and Venetian
School, 2 vols. (London: Phaidon, 1957), I, p. 191. After
many years in the reserves, this painting has recently
been recalled to the colours and its rightful place on
the walls of the Titian gallery. I enjoyed productive
discussions of it with Ms Evelyn Brockmann and Dr
Zuzanna Sarnecka on 24 November 2017 and, on 20
June 2018, with Drs Francesca Del Torre and Wencke
Dieters. Executed on a canvas bearing the beginnings
of a different composition, as Dr Dieters showed me,
this Salvator Mundi is, in my opinion, entirely autograph,
and Dr Del Torre tells me that this has been for some
time the view of the Kunsthistorisches Museum. Painted
quite thinly – understandably were Titian working to a
tight deadline – and simpler in colour and form than the
‘Darnley’ panel, it presents a more ‘political’ vision of
the Saviour. Both paintings, incidentally, share the cross
radiance of the Pitti Christ and the Yarborough Emmaus.
As Maja Markovic observed, this can clearly be seen
when the X-ray image is rotated 90° anti-clockwise.
This version of the Aldobrandini Madonna would have
been about half size, unlike other known versions
or variants (Florence, Pitti; Forth Worth, Kimbell
Foundation; Hampton Court, Royal Collection) which
are more-or-less same size. For the Aldobrandini
Madonna see Cecil Gould, National Gallery Catalogues, The
Sixteenth-Century Italian Schools (London: National Gallery
Publications Department, 1975), pp. 278-280. Infra-red
images, kindly provided by Olivia Ghosh, do not show
any significant alterations but they do help clarify the
painting’s formal structure.
Although it is not significant for the present article, the
X-ray shows that Titian was prepared to paint – or at
least licence – a reduction of a successful composition
very soon after its completion
See for example, the paintings catalogued and
reproduced by Domenico Sedini, Marco d’Oggiono,
tradizione e rinnovamento in Lombardia tra Quattrocento e
Cinquecento (Milan: Jandi Sapi, 1987), nos. 10, 11.
Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi exists in several copies;
see Luke Syson in Leonardo da Vinci, Painter at the Court
of Milan, eds. Luke Syson et al., exh. cat. (London:
National Gallery, 2011-2012), no. 91, pp. 300-303. It
was obviously a reference for Lombard painters; see for
example Sedini, Marco d’Oggiono, no. 102, pp. 196-197.
See most recently the entry by Giulia Forti in Dürer e il
Rinascimento tra Germania e Italia, eds. Bernard Aikema
and Andrew John Martin, exh. cat. (Milan: Palazzo
Reale, 2018), no. 1/20, p. 331.
Rome, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica di Palazzo
Barberini, inv. 873.
A specifically Bellinian connection is seen in the Saint
Onophrius of the Salvator Mundi’s left-hand flanking
panel, which repeats the Saint Onophrius from Bellini’s
San Giobbe altarpiece.
15. Bissolo’s severely frontal Christ the Redeemer was offered
at Sotheby’s, New York, 1 February 2018, no. 323,
attribution and dating confirmed by Mauro Lucco.
It may have been knowledge of such paintings that
prompted Wethey to place the ‘Darnley’ Christ in the
school of Bellini. Previtali’s painting is inv. NG 2501; see
Christopher Baker and Tom Henry, The National Gallery.
Complete Illustrated Catalogue (New Haven and London:
Yale University Press, 1995), p. 550; a somewhat earlier
Blessing Christ by Previtali, also in the National Gallery
(inv. NG3087, oil on wood, 48 x 38 cm) rather follows
the model established by Antonello da Messina.
16. Oil on wood, 72 x 62 cm; see Philip Rylands, Palma
Vecchio (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992),
no. 53, pp. 192-193. A studio? version in the National
Museum, Wroclaw (inv. 103), kindly brought to my
attention by Zuzanna Sarnecka, is discussed by Boena
Steinborn, Catalogue of the Collection of the Romance Countries’
Painting, 2nd ed. (Wrocaw: Muzeum Narodowe, 2012),
pp. 376-377, who refers to versions of this type by Rocco
Marconi. An interesting bronze relief showing Christ
raising His left hand in blessing while resting His right
upon the globe, (16.2 x 13 cm, attributed to the Master
of the Barbarigo reliefs) is probably datable to the second
decade: see the example in Vienna, Leo Planiscig,
Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Die Bronze-Plastiken, Statuetten,
Reliefs, Geräte und Plaketten (Vienna: A. Schroll, 1924), no.
16, p. 80; and that in Berlin, Volker Krahn, Bronzetti
veneziani, die venezianischen Kleinbronzen der Renaissance aus
dem Bode-Museum Berlin (Berlin: SMB, 2003), no. 52, pp.
190-191, where Previtali’s painting is cited.
17. Titian’s Tribute Money, the Pitti Bust of Christ and the
‘Darnley’ Salvator Mundi are virtually identical in size.
18. Irina Artemieva in Tiziano: l’ultimo atto, ed. Lionello
Puppi (Milan: Skira, 2007), no. 66, p. 387.
19. “Quanto al Christo, giudicando Vostra Signoria di
puoterlo far meglio in Venetia, che in nome di Dio la
porti là, [per]ché dandolo poi a messer Roggiero de
Tassis maestro de poste so che lo incaminerà sicuro.
Et voglio più presto dare un poco più di tempo et
che sia bene, che guastare una opera del Ticiano con
la fretta. Et la prego ben quanto posso che in questa
faccia di Christo et in haver l’Imperator così perfetto
come l’originale mi mostri la affettione che mi porta,
poiché con ogni amorevolezza li risponderò”; Puppi,
L’Epistolario, no. 117, pp. 152-153.
20. “Li quadri di Vostra Signoria fra due zorni li consignarò
al vostro ospito (perché Sua Signoria mi ha parlato.
Il Cristo, ancorché il mio cervel non stà molto allegro
per respetto de questi miei negozi et travagli, se non sarà
fato come la merita, io lo sup[l]irò con mia commodità
in Italia; perhò io penso che non li dispiacerà, perché
è molto simile a quello di Roma”; Puppi, L’Epistolario,
no. 120, pp. 155-157. In a postscript Titian mentioned
six paintings that he had executed for Charles V and
specified “il Christo, che Sua Maestà hano portato con
seco…” – which is the Man of Sorrows on slate.
21. I have employed Man of Sorrows for bust-length
treatments of the isolated Christ of the Charles V type
which, when not simply indicated as Cristo, is generally
called the Ecce Homo by Titian’s contemporaries such as
Vasari. But this can create confusion with the historical
episode of Pilate’s presentation of Christ to the people
of Jerusalem, treated by Titian in his Saint Louis
painting, and I have reserved Ecce Homo for that subject.
Incidentally, Titian spells Christo and Cristo indifferently.
Giorgio Vasari, Le vite dei più eccellenti pittori, scultori e
architetti (Florence, 1568) ed. Maurizio Marini (Rome:
Newton Compton, 1991), p. 1292, is rather disparaging
about the painting given by Titian to Paul III: “...
fece, per donare al Papa, un Cristo dal mezzo in su, in
forma di Ecce Homo. La quale opera, o fusse le cose
di Michelangelo, di Raffaello, di Polidoro e d’altri fatto
perdere, o qualche altra cagione, non parve ai pittori,
tuttoché fusse buon’opera, di quell’eccelenza che molte
altre sue e particolarmente i ritratti.” Apart from the fact,
as Titian confirms, that it differed in some ways from
Charles V’s version, we know nothing more about it.
“Il Cristo la Signoria Vostra le tenerà, fin che in Italia
io ne faro un altro cum mazor mia comodità”; Puppi,
L’Epistolario, no. 122, p. 158.
“Resta solo che Vostra Signoria non scordi il Christo
promessomi, quando sarete in Italia, che me lo facciate
con vostra comodità, ma tanto bello et perfetto, quale
io spero riceverlo dal Ticiano, il quale so mi usarà
assai maggior diligentia ch’io non saprei ricordarli.
Sopra tutto vorrei che havesse la faccia bella, dolce et
delicata tanto quanto la saprete fare. Vorrei ancor che
il fondo fusse di un color berretino ben scuro, come si
accostuma. La veste, osia pallio, in cambio di azzura,
la vorrei purpurea; la sottana potrà restar rossa come
l’altra. Infine, so che dalla mano vostra non mi verrà
questo Christo se non come io desidero, però lo rimetto
in discrettione della solita vostra amorevolezza.”; Puppi,
L’Epistolario, no. 126, pp. 163-164.
Sheila Hale, Titian, His Life (London: Harper Press,
2012), p. 507.
Wethey, Titian, I, no. 144, dated 1540-1545, but
of which Pallucchini, Tiziano, I, p. 130, II, fig. 347,
noting that it is “Un nobilissimo dipinto, ma non
di facile datazione”, added that for him the most
acceptable dating “pare... quella del Suida, che lo
colloca all fine del quinto decennio.” Peter Humfrey,
Titian, the Complete Paintings (London: Phaidon, 2007),
no. 179, p. 244, dates it 1545-1555.
“La promessa, che a quella feci di rifar de qui il quadro
del Christo, io sono per mantenir, et già lo comenzo...”;
Puppi, L’Epistolario, no. 127, p. 165.
Of course, Titian could readily have disposed of a
duplicate Man of Sorrows by sale or gift.
“Quanto al Cristo, poiche è lì con sua commodità,
non dubito que venirà perfetto, et quella haverà
inteso per mie lettere la consideratione, che di sopra
le facevo acciò venghi. Quanto alli colori dei vesti et
del fondo, quella volsi solamente dire per ragguaglio,
rimettendome sempre al giudicio suo, come patron
dell’arte cara.”; Puppi, L’Epistolario no. 130, pp.167-168.
30. “il suo Titiano non pur è per manchare de il Christo
ordinatogli et di quella maniera istessa...”; Puppi,
L’Epistolario no. 131, pp. 168-169.
31. “non scordandomi però del Christo promesso alla
realissima vostra bontade et cortesia, il quale senza
quella prestissimo l’haveria hauto, se non fusse stato
questo così subito partirmi. Ma spero che mi spedirò
presto...”; Puppi, L’Epistolario, no. 132, pp. 169-170.
32. Puppi, L’Epistolario, no. 136, p. 174; but, as Carlo
Corsato has suggested to me, Titian may not have
been entirely frank and have delayed dispatching the
painting until he had received from Granvelle signed
copies of his Milanese privileges.
33. “Mi è stato di molto contento haver nova di Vostra Signoria
per le sue del 11 marzo et che habbiate fornito il Christo
e consignatolo al maestro de Poste. Starò aspetando
che mi venghi con prestezza, a fine che, in quella
mirandomi, possi contemplare la divina eccellenza del
mio Titiano.”; Puppi, L’Epistolario, no. 138, pp. 175-177.
34. “Già mi ha dato aviso il maestro delle poste di Venetia
che li consegnaste il Cristo, e non dubito punto
che, sendo di vostra mano, non venghi perfetto et,
vedendolo, ve ne scriverò et ringraziarò più a pieno.”;
Puppi, L’Epistolario, no. 141, pp. 178-180.
35. “Se ’l Christo vi serà pervenuto salvo nelle mani, e
che sia sodisfazione a Vostra Signoria, ne sentirò un
contento grande, e se serà altrimente, un crucio; pur,
sia come si voglia la Signoria Vostra lo reserbarà sino a
tanto che agiongerà de l’altre cose.”; Puppi, L’Epistolario,
no. 144, pp. 182-183.
36. Dr Perez de Tudela Gabaldón kindly tells me that she
has come across no references to these paintings in her
work on Granvelle.
37. Wethey, Titian, I, no. 144, comments: “Restoration has
given the picture a generally bland look, and accounts
for the softness of the hand...”, but whatever the effects
of restoration in this case, in the Vienna, Minneapolis,
and Saint Petersburg pictures, Titian was clearly
aiming at iconic directness and simplicity and softness
of effect. I am most grateful to Patrick Noon and Heidi
Katz for information about this picture. X-ray shows
that it too is painted on a previously used panel, but
the underlying forms are hard to interpret – they may,
perhaps, be part of a landscape.
38. Pallucchini, Tiziano, I, pp. 292-293 and II, fig. 347. Suida,
Le Titien, p. 61 dated it ca.1540. Hans Tietze, Titian,
Paintings and Drawings (London: Phaidon, 1950), fig. 146
and p. 384, to the early 1540s, and Valcanover, Tutta la
Pittura, I, no. 185 and Opera completa, no. 248, to 1540-1545.
39. Vanessa J. Schmid and Kelsy Brosnan, “Previous
Owners as Listed by Dubois de Saint-Gelais,” in The
Orléans Collection, eds. Vanessa J. Schmid et al., exh.
cat. (New Orleans: New Orleans Museum of Art,
2018-2019), p. 254, identify M. Le Grand as Philippe,
le Chevalier de Lorraine, 1643-1702, a friend of
Monsieur, the father of the regent Philippe II Duc
d’Orléans. According to Schmid and Brosnan “after
Lorraine’s death in 1702, Phlippe II appears to have
acquired several of his paintings....”


Powered by

Full screen Click to read
Paperturn flip book
Download as PDF
Shopping cart
Full screen
Exit full screen