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The School Of Titian

The Art Of Painting - The School Of Titian - 2, a brief series of articles on the art of painting and drawing
 
 
It is found that the ground or first covering of the canvas was of gesso, sized, often of the colour of terra-rossa, possibly a pigment resembling our light red, the actual colour painted over being of a slightly reddish white. In a similar colour, very solidly, the flesh in the abozzo (equivalent to the French ébauche, or our " laying in ") was done, and the rest of the picture in a faint but firm rendering of the final local colouring.
The abozzo was placed in the dew and sun to dry often for months, until it was sufficiently hard to allow of a rubbing down of the flesh tints with pumice, or of a scraping perfectly even with a knife, for Titian's flesh is smooth. If after this long interval a fresh eye detected faults or the need for change, adequate preparation was made.
The rich glazes and alternate scumblings were then applied with the fingers and thumb, and finally the whole was gilded either with a golden varnish or with asphaltum. In some instances the restorers have found indications of eight or nine separate applications of pigment more or less solid ; and the toning of the flesh they attribute to the darkening action of the oil in the colours so frequently superposed.
The glowing effects favoured by the Venetians are to be seen any day in Venice, reflected from the marble-fronted buildings on to the people and objects in the houses. Giovanni Bellini's " Peter the Martyr," a fine delicate work by Titian's master, recalls the glowing light of those interiors." Bacchus and Ariadne."—Of the composition of this great picture I shall treat later.
The account of Titian's method, as recorded, is consistent with the result. One cannot pretend to do full justice to a painting so rich in achievement and of such unending charms ; let me try, however, to direct your attention to some of its technical excellences.
ST. PETER MARTYR, BY GIOVANNI BELLINI
To begin with, in the figure of Ariadne, note the draughtsmanship and the subtle tone of the profile outlined against the outstretched hand ; the texture of the loose hair ; the modelling of the light on the shoulder above the band of red ; and the warm greenish-grey tones against its lower edge. Note, again, the gracefully radiating
folds of the blue drapery held around the figure by the left hand ; the toning of the flesh and other colours by contrast with the white linen ; and then the harmonising of the blue and red by means of a rich glaze of asphaltum.


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