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An Unknown Man (once called Pietro Aretino)

Titian (Pieve di Cadore 1488/90 - Venice 1576)

Category

Art / Oil paintings

Date

circa 1512

Materials

Oil on canvas

Measurements

737 x 622 mm (29 x 24 ½ in)

Order this image

Collection

Ickworth, Suffolk

NT 851770

Caption

The nobility and intensity of the face in this damaged early work by Titian makes it the most remarkable of the portraits in the collection at Ickworth. The style is typical of Titian’s work in the early 1510s. It is close to the National Gallery ‘Man with a Blue Sleeve’, both in composition and style. Titian painted a number of portraits of young men at this time. The sitters are all of a similar age, and probably recommended the artist to each other. The psychological insight in these pictures suggests that Titian – who would have also been a young man at this time – might have been friends with them. The picture was probably acquired by either George, 2nd Earl of Bristol (1721-75) while he was Ambassador to Madrid (1758-61), or by Lord William Hervey, son of the 1st Marquess, who was secretary to the Legation at Madrid from 1830-40.

Summary

Oil painting on canvas, An Unknown Man by Titian (Pieve di Cadore 1488/90 - Venice 1576), circa 1512. A head-and-shoulders portrait of a man, turned to the left, gazing at the spectator, his left hand extended; dressed in black robe adorned with gold braid trim, and a ring on the thumb of the left hand. Dark brown hair, beard and moustache. In the background top left, is a roughly painted roundel of unidentifiable subject. This portrait of an unknown man, once thought to be a self-portrait, is possibly a fragment of a larger canvas. The nobility and intensity of the face make this the most remarkable of the portraits in the collection at Ickworth.

Provenance

Probably acquired by either George, 2nd Earl of Bristol (1721-75) while he was Ambassador to Madrid (1758-61), or by Lord William Hervey (1805-1850), son of the 1st Marquess of Bristol, who was secretary to the Legation at Madrid from 1830-40; accepted by the Treasury in lieu of inheritance tax relating to the death of Frederick William, 4th Marquess of Bristol (1863-1951). Loaned to the National Trust in 1956 under the auspices of the National Land Fund, later the National Heritage Memorial Fund, and then transferred to the National Trust in 1983.

Credit line

Ickworth, The Bristol Collection (acquired through the National Land Fund and transferred to The National Trust in 1956)

Makers and roles

Titian (Pieve di Cadore 1488/90 - Venice 1576), artist previously catalogued as attributed to Jacopo Palma Negreti, known as Palma Vecchio (Lombardy c.1479 – Venice 1528), artist

Exhibition history

Titian's First Masterpiece, The flight to Egypt and its context, National Gallery, London, 2012

References

Cook 1910 H.Cook, ‘Venetian Portraits’, Burlington Magazine, XVI, 1910, p.333, repd. (reprinted in the author’s Reviews and Appreciations, 1912, pp.122-3) Berenson 1957 Bernard Berenson, Venetian Pictures, 1957, vol.1. p.186“Ickworth (Suffolk). NATIONAL TRUST. Bust of Gentleman. E.” [E = early] Wethey 1971 H. Wethey, The Paintings of Titian. II. The Portraits, London 1971, cat.41, plate 12 & pp.12-13 Mazzotta 2012 Antonio Mazzotta, Titian A fresh look at nature, National Gallery, London, 2012 , fig, 4

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