Titian (1488/90 – 1576) had the capability to combine the portrait genre, gender roles, and contemporary notions of ideal beauty.  Titian’s portrayals of women can be separated into two categories established by modern day art historians: (1) those with assigned descriptive names (what we think of today as titles) that were the identity of a woman because she posed for an unambiguous and true rendition, and (2) those with a title suggesting the figure is an ideal beauty, thus the subject is an allegory.  Considering the portrait genre, gender roles and notions of ideal beauty, Titian was an innovative artist because he painted an ideal beauty in both portraits of allegorical subjects and realistic depictions of women.  The latter are portraits, but simultaneously an allegory of an ideal beauty because they impersonate gender roles imposed on women by society.  Titian’s allegorical subjects are an ideal beauty, yet also portraits because he gave the figure an individual personality while considering female societal duties.

Sliding Image Gallery Credit:

  1. Titian. Woman with a Mirror. 1512-1515. Musée de Louvre, Paris. Photo courtesy of ARTstor.
  2. Titian. La Bella. 1536-1538. Palazzo Pitti, Florence. Photo courtesy of ARTstor.
  3. Titian. Giulia Varano, Duchess of Urbino. 1545-1547. Palazzo Pitti, Florence. Photo courtesy of Google Images.
  4. Titian. Young Woman with a Fur Coat. 1535. Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Vienna. ARTstor.
  5. Titian. Empress Isabella d’Este in Black. 1534-1536. Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Vienna. Photo courtesy of ARTstor.
  6. Titian. Portrait of Eleonora Gonzaga della Rovere. 1536-1538. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence. Photo courtesy of ARTstor.