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Venice 2014

Refined Passivity in the Age of an Empire

Portrait of Doge Marcantonio Trivisan

Titian, Portrait of Doge Marcantonio Trivisan (1553), Budapest, Oil on canvas. 100 x 87 cm. 

This contrast of aggression and passivity can also be noted in another portrait by Titian, his Portrait of Doge Marcantonio Trivisan (1553), and in Bronzino’s Portrait of Francesco de’ Medici (1545). In the same painterly sensuousness as his Portrait of Doge Andrea Gritti, Titian captures the more subdued nature of Doge Marcantonio Trivisan. Bronzino’s Portrait of Francesco de’ Medici also contains a certain passivity. Both figures are silhouetted against solid backgrounds as to enhance the prominence of these men. Wearing the same robes of red brocade and the Doge’s corno as seen in Titian’s previous Portrait of Doge Andrea Gritti, the Doge Marcantonio Trivisan appears less intense than the portrait of Gritti, but he still conveys assertiveness. 

Portrait of Francesco de' Medici

Agnolo Bronzino, Portrait of Francesco de' Medici, Oil on panel. 68.5 x 52.5 cm. 

Bronzino’s Portrait of Francesco de’ Medici presents a similar position, where Francesco holds a piece of paper, perhaps a note, close to his chest. He does not reveal much in terms of his expression. The monochromatic tones of brown and white used in many of Bronzino’s portraits of the men of the Medici family are unlike the Venetian colori of Titian. The use of vivid color by Venetian artists in portraiture served as a defining characteristic in the work of not only Titian, but other prominent Venetian painters including Tintoretto.