Titian was one of the most versatile of Italian painters, equally adept with portraits, landscape backgrounds, and mythological and religious subjects. His painting methods, particularly in the application and use of colour, would exercise a profound influence not only on painters of the Italian Renaissance, but on future generations of western art.
During the course of his long life, Titian’s artistic manner changed drastically, but he retained a lifelong interest in colour. Although his mature works may not contain the vivid, luminous tints of his early pieces, their loose brushwork and subtlety of tone are without precedent in the history of western painting.
For sixty years he was the undisputed master of Venetian painting. In 1516, he completed his famous masterpiece, the Assumption of the Virgin, or the high altar of the Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, where it is still in situ. This extraordinary piece of colourism, executed on a grand scale rarely before seen in Italy, created a sensation.
Titian’s skill with colour is exemplified by his Danaë one of several mythological paintings, or “poesie” (“poems”) as the painter called them. This painting was done for Alessandro Farnese, but a later variant was produced for Philip II, for whom Titian painted many of his most important mythological paintings. Although Michelangelo adjudged this piece deficient from the point of view of drawing, Titian and his studio produced several versions for other patrons.
While the plague aged in Venice, Titian died of a fever on 27 August 1576. He lies near his own famous painting, the Madonna di Ca’ Pesaro. No memorial marked his grave.