Portrait of a Venetian Nobleman Titian Buy Art Prints Now
from Amazon

* As an Amazon Associate, and partner with Google Adsense and Ezoic, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
Email: [email protected] / Phone: +44 7429 011000

For the past decade, the most famous art historians have been debating the origins of A Portrait Of A Venetian Nobleman displayed at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.

Bernard Berenson claimed it was a copy of a Giorgione painting and then attributed to Titian. However, Wilhelm von Bode and Sir Herbert Cook identified the painting as an authentic Giorgione. The National Gallery of Art officially attributes the painting as Giorgione and Titian. But, in 1993 it was displayed as a Titian by the French director of the Museum Michel Laclotte.

The Portrait of a Venetian Nobleman features a sitting young man with his fist clenched on a book. The mysterious background including a partial painting representation and the VVO symbol is yet to be deciphered. The gentleman's attitude is defiant and arrogant which strikes any viewer through his stare. His head which is tilted back expresses a hostile attitude towards another character who may be in the room. Many would ask: What is he holding in the handkerchief? What does the green book show? These may be clues about who painted the portrait.

The author uses contrasting colours with wide brush strokes to create the dynamics of the young man's defensive attitude. His eyes are fixed towards a certain point which combined with the clenched fist expresses an aggressive standing. Although the painting is mostly static, the gentleman's posture and composure are incredibly dynamic. The author captures the vivacity of the young man through contrasts of light and shadows depicted with a narrow palette of colours.

The facial expression is contoured through shades of darkness and light, which indicate the young man's boldness and fierceness. The closed green-covered book with gold pages reflects the social status of the nobleman. Also, it's a clear indication of his hostile character, emphasized by the clenched fist. The painting mystery is doubled by the handkerchief in the gentleman's fist, which indicates his aggressiveness and a release of force. The main shapes in the painting are linear but also include various clean curves which create a streamlined flow of the masterpiece's subject. The character's garment reveals an authoritative stance with a slight opening at the neck.

The painting is currently displayed at the National Gallery of Art Museum in Washington D.C and the attribution has changed from Giorgione and Titian, dated 1510 to Cariani. The painter is referenced as a 16th-century artist. The portrait's dimensions stand at 76.2 x 63.5 cm, which was enough for the author to have expressed the minutely detailed and finely executed scene.