St Dominic by Titian

St Dominic is a painting of Saint Dominic by Titian (Tiziano Vecellio), which was created in a c.1565. It is an oil on canvas with 97 x 80 cm dimensions.

History

Saint Dominic is wearing the habit of the Dominican order, which only stands out from the dark background thanks to the luminosity surrounding the figure, while the thin gold ring of a halo is visible over his head. Signed “Ticianus”, the painting, datable to 1565, is recorded in the inventories of 1693 and 1700 as the portrait of a Dominican monk; Giovanni Morelli considered it to be a portrait of Titian’s confessor, while Giovan Battista Cavalcaselle interpreted it as St Dominic.

Like other works by Titian in the Borghese Gallery, it was believed to be part of Paolo Emilio Sfondrato’s collection, which Scipione Borghese purchased in 1608

However, the recent discovery of Cardinal Girolamo Bernerio’s will of 1611 has allowed this art work to be identified as the St Dominic bequeathed to Scipione Borghese.

Analysis

Portraits by Titian, the Venetian artist of the High Renaissance, reveal the rich, complex inner world of man. Saint Dominic is primarily a man, with his thoughts and feelings. The Saint’s robe – a white tunic and a black cloak, as well as a neutral background create that restrained color scheme that allows you to focus on the face of the portrayed. The look of Dominic’s lively dark eyes on his thin, ascetic face betrays a momentary detachment from the world. But the hand of a saint pointing to heaven expresses the inner energy of a tireless preacher, which emanates from his whole appearance. The French historian and philosopher Hippolyte Taine wrote of Titian:

“There are families of plants, some species are so close together that the similarity is greater than the difference: these are the artists of Venice, not only the four famous – Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese, and other, lesser-known … What strikes the eye – is a basic and common type, private and personal traits are the first time in the shade. They worked together and turn in the Doge′s Palace, but, due to involuntary consonance of their talents, their entire painting forms one whole … “

Interesting Facts

  1. Saint Dominic was a Castilian priest and founder of the Dominican Order
  2. It is estimated that Titian created approximately 400 works of art in his lifetime however only about 300 still exist. His work is on display around the word in galleries, museums, and private collections
  3. From 1516 to 1530, Titian mastered his own style, and when Giorgione and Giovanni died, Titian became the master of Venetian painting
  4. The recent discovery of Cardinal Girolamo Bernerio’s will of 1611 has allowed St Dominic art work to be identified as the St Dominic bequeathed to Scipione Borghese
  5. Signed “Ticianus”, the painting, datable to 1565, is recorded in the inventories of 1693 and 1700 as the portrait of a Dominican monk; Giovanni Morelli considered it to be a portrait of Titian’s confessor, while Giovan Battista Cavalcaselle interpreted it as St Dominic
Borghese Gallery in Rome,

Author: Titian

Titian

Tiziano Vecelli or Vecellio (1488/90-1576), known in English as Titian, was an Italian painter during the Renaissance, considered the most important member of the 16th-century Venetian school. Being famous among his contemporaries as "The Sun Amidst Small Stars" (recalling the famous final line of Dante's Paradiso), Titian was one of the most versatile of Italian painters, who worked on portraits landscape backgrounds and mythological and religious subjects. His painting methods, particularly in the application and use of colour, influenced not only other painters of the late Italian Renaissance, but also future generations of Western art.