Emperor Charles II Titian Buy Art Prints Now
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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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Emperor Charles II portrait is one of the most noticeable works by Titian (Tiziano Vecellio) a 16th-century Italian painter and a product of the prestigious Venetian School.

This picture was done nearly the same time with the Equestrian Portrait of Charles V when Titian was a guest to the Emperor in Augsburg. Emperor Charles II was the ruler of both Spain and the Holy Roman Empire from 1516 to 1556. He also had influence and dominion in most areas in present-day Europe. In this piece of art, the Emperor is seen seated on a princely chair near a window but facing the viewer. The red furnishing of the chair bears a close resemblance to the carpet, with a golden tapestry right behind him. He is in the royal black regalia befitting an aristocrat. The scenic view from the window compliments the interior of the room.

The original painting was done on a 122 by 205-centimetre canvas with oil in a portrait format. Titian’s painting mostly adopted the Late Italian Renaissance style and this particular painting depicted classical mannerism. The painting was done in 1548 at a time when Titian was making a tour of cities and major towns, doing paintings for prominent people in these places. The emperor himself launched the painting at the Imperial Court in Augsburg the same year when Titan had paid him a courtesy call.

Besides the Emperor, Titian had done paintings for Pope Paul III (1545/6), Benedetto Varchi (1540), Vincenzo Capello (1540), Caterina Cornaro (1542), Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (1545/6), Pope Julius II (1545/6) among many others. These paintings have done well in art galleries and exhibitions, travelling as far as St. Petersburg in Russia, Scotland, Britain and the National Art Gallery in Washington DC, United States. The emperor's portrait is currently housed in Munich, Germany at the Alte Pinakothek.

Titian's paintings were mostly influenced by both Italian and Western art. A cross cut through his professional life shows a gradual change and maturity in context; reducing the colour contrast, loose brushwork and toning down. This versatility earned him the title of The Sun Amidst Small Stars from his peers. From Giorgionesque style, through the monumental style to colourism, the growth of Titian within Venice was exponential, especially after the death of his seniors and mentors, Giorgio da Castelfranco (Giorgione) and Giovanni Bellini. He is believed to have done over 400 paintings, but only 250 or so can be accounted for.

During his illustrious career in the arts, Titian mentored many cross-generational painters among them Rembrandt, Peter Rubens, Diego Velazquez among others. He perfected idealism and naturalism, which grew into modern day impressionism.