"THE PORTRAIT OF A POET" with a background of laurels, ascribed to Titian, is a most impressive rendering of a sensitive and thoughtful head.<< Previous page
There is no bravura in the handling of it, and except on the white shirt and the glove, no sign of paint. And how it gains by such masterly reticence !
Obtrusively clever brushwork, as with Frans Hals, infuses vitality, and may make of an uninteresting head an interesting picture ; but with so sympathetic a subject as this poet, it would be unwise for the artist to distract from the full enjoyment of its innate delicacy by drawing attention to any obvious skill in its production. The Venetians knew how to import an unequalled gravity and nobility into their portraiture.
Apart from the conclusions to which the skilled Venetian restorers of the early part of the last century have arrived, we have some definite records of Titian's manner of painting.
We shall not necessarily paint Titians because of this knowledge, but in making copies of his works such knowledge, as far as it goes, is indispensable. This applies equally to the copying of works of any master whose method has been handed on to us.
Presumably Titian, who lived nearly ninety years, deviated somewhat from the practice of his master Bellini. His is a more solid style ; but on comparing the two we find that the main principles of their craft are identical, and, with the exception of Paolo Veronese and Tintoretto, constitute the basic conditions of Venetian oil-painting of the period.
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