Part I: First Age
PLATE I.—THE DUCHESS OF URBINO. Frontispiece
(In the Uffizi Gallery, Florence)
This portrait of the Duchess of Urbino from the Uffizi must not be confused with the portrait of the Duchess in the Pitti Palace. The sitter here is Eleonora Gonzaga, Duchess of Urbino, and the portrait was painted somewhere between the years 1536 and 1538 at a period when the master's art had ripened almost to the point of its highest achievement.
Titian Vecelli, undeniably the greatest Venetian painter of the Renaissance, leaps into the full light of the movement. To be sure he appears full-grown, as Venus is said to have done when she appeared above the foam in the waters of Cythera, or Pallas Athene when she12 sprang from the brain of Zeus, but happily he was destined to live to a great age.
We have few and scanty records to tell of the very early days. So wide was his circle of patrons in after life, so intimate his acquaintance with the leading men of his generation, that it is not difficult to find out what manner of man he was without the aid of his pictures, even though they have a very definite story to tell the painstaking student.
There are well over one hundred important works, dealing with the life and art of Titian, written by enthusiasts in half-a-dozen languages, for of all the artists of the Renaissance he makes perhaps the most direct appeal to the man moyen sensuel.