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Daniele BarbaroEnlarge image

Daniele Barbaro, 1545

Vecellio, Tiziano (called Titian)
Italian, 1488 - 1576
oil on canvas
85.8 x 71.5 cm
Purchased 1928
National Gallery of Canada (no. 3567)

OLD - The historian Bishop Paolo Giovio was a collector of portraits of his more famous contemporaries. In 1544, he asked Daniele Barbaro, a noted humanist and scholar of architecture, the sciences and philosophy, for his portrait and, in turn, Barbaro asked Titian, the most important Venetian painter of the day, to make it. Wearing an understated yet elegant robe, appropriate for a man of his noble status, Barbaro poses rather self-consciously, yet his gaze does not meet ours – his formidable intelligence is clearly elsewhere. Another version of this portrait exists, and the relationship between the two has long been debated. Recent study has allowed us to understand that the two works were painted side-by-side; this canvas being the one on which Titian worked out placement of detail and colour, and likely the painting he finished with Barbaro present in the same room. Recently restored, the painting can be seen clearly for the first time in centuries. While its former condition had led to confusion over its authorship, technical study and restoration means we can confirm an observation made by the writer Aretino – a mutual friend of all three – praising Titian’s miraculous hand in capturing Daniele’s appearance and spirit. Frame: carved and gilded wood. Italy (Tuscany), mid-16th century The restoration of this painting was made possible through the generous support of VKS Art.

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