Not very good at drawing

Nicholas Penny

  • Titian: His Life by Sheila Hale
    Harper, 832 pp, £30.00, July 2012, ISBN 978 0 00 717582 6

Titian: His Life is – not surprisingly, considering its great length – really about Titian’s ‘life and times’, and often seems to be more about the latter than the former. Even when we meet with a fact about the artist (and there are a good many new ones here) – it may be about the family timber business, about the artist’s investments in land, about his endless pursuit of benefices for his unworthy son Pomponio or of emoluments for himself – we seem to be considering commonplace behaviour rather than anything exceptional, anything that might explain his greatness as an artist, his powers of sympathy and imagination. On the other hand, the portraits presented here of Titian’s friend and public-relations manager, Pietro Aretino, and his greatest patron, King Philip of Spain, are rich in revealing detail and seem, by contrast, fully rounded.

You are not logged in