Published to accompany the exhibition Titian’s First Masterpiece: The Flight into Egypt at the National Gallery, London 4 April – 19 August 2012.
Titian is acknowledged as the greatest of the sixteenth-century Venetian painters, best known for his portraits, mythological pictures and religious subjects. Yet his first great achievement as a painter, schooled in the workshop of Giovanni Bellini, was to refashion the portrayal of nature in his own distinctive style. He did this by studying the work of Albrecht Dürer, whose naturalistic paintings of plants, animals and landscape – for which northern European artists were renowned – had caused a sensation in Venice in the first decade of the sixteenth century.
In this beautifully illustrated book, Antonio Mazzotta presents this experience, together with Titian’s native landscape of Pieve di Cadore, as crucial influences in the artist’s early representation of nature. The recently restored Flight into Egypt (now in the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg) – probably painted when Titian was still a teenager – is vivid proof of his interest in the depiction of animals, plants and figures in the landscape.
Titian learned from his brilliant contemporaries, Dürer, Sebastiano del Piombo and Giorgione; but the author also shows how he developed, so early in his career, his own unique and innovative approach to painting nature.View spreads of this book (1.6 MB PDF)