In the 1510s Raphael was establishing himself as leading artist in papal Rome, creating iconic paintings that would enable his art to be regarded as a paragon of absolute beauty. In the same years, Titian (ca. 1490-1576), slightly younger than Raphael and from the mountains in the northern fringes of Venice’s inland, was soon to dominate the local artistic scene, extending his fame beyond the Italian peninsula, becoming one of the most celebrated masters of all times. Unlike Raphael, who died at age 37, Titian lived a long life and career, during which he worked for numerous princes, furnishing their courts with a multitude of paintings that shaped the taste of European society and had a huge impact on artists from any latitude. Because of both his longevity and the sense of vigour and energy he imparted to his works, Titian’s art has been often compared to Michelangelo’s. The similarities between Titian and Raphael, on the contrary, have been largely underestimated, despite the fact that the two painters were revered as paradigms of artistic perfection until well into the nineteenth century. In today’s perception, the two artists are hardly, if any, conceived of in parallel terms, inasmuch as sixteenth-century Venice and Rome are seen as separate historical entities. This seminar will discuss how Titian and Raphael, who arguably never met, developed at the same time and somewhat similarly, although in different cultural contexts and under different circumstances. It will also highlight how Titian, still many years after Raphael’s death, looked to the late fellow artist not only as a source of inspiration for his extraordinary inventiveness and the supreme quality of his art, but also as an ideal of excellence to surpass.
This event is organized by the Istituto Italiano di Cultura Toronto in collaboration with Istituto Italiano di Cultura Chicago, Los Angeles, Montreal, New York, San Francisco, & Washington D.C.