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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The Apostles Group drawing by Titian is a highly complex series of figurative portraits, almost verging on the Expressionist movement of many centuries later

Little is known about this particular drawing but its lines suggest that the artist used either pen, pencil or chalk. Considering many of his other drawings were in black chalk, that would be the most likely option. Titian was famous for his study sketches that aimed to ensure his standards would never slip and that complex paintings were always properly planned.

All of his drawings were on small pieces of paper, making them ideal to quickly put something together in his studio, perhaps even when away travelling. There may also have been a simple notebook in which he would keep them all together. His studio would also make use of them on occasion when they were completing elements of his work.

There are around 6-8 figures in this drawing, in a variety of poses with some on their knees. It is hard to make out much more then just the outlines of each person because of the frantic lines that cover the entire composition.

The raw, expressive style used here reminds many of the likes of Jackson Pollock from the 20th century, where abstract and realism fight against each other. You will see examples of this in Blue Poles, No. 5 and Convergence. Titian chose to make this drawing like that because the scene is one of activity and he wanted to portray some of this movement in his final painting.