Titian (Tiziano Vecellio) (Italian, Venetian, ca. 1485/90?1576)
Oil on canvas; 46 1/2 x 37 in. (118.1 x 94 cm)
Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913 (14.40.650)
Born in Milan about 1500, Filippo Archinto was trained as a lawyer in Padua. In 1536, he joined the court of Pope Paul III, becoming vicar-general of Rome and refendary of the Segnatura. He was active at the Council of Trent (154648) and promoted the cause of Saint Ignatius Loyola. In 1553, he was appointed by Paul III's successor, Julius III, as papal nuncio to Venice. He retained this post until 1556, and the present portrait seems to have been painted at that time. In 1556, Archinto was appointed archbishop of Milan but, owing to local opposition, did not take possession of the diocese. He died, exiled in Bergamo, in June 1558. A second version of this portrait exists in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (John G. Johnson Collection). In this version, the right half is covered by a translucent white curtain. There has been much discussion of the relationship between the paintings, both of which were owned by the Archinto family. Since the cleaning of the Metropolitan's painting (1980), there can be no reasonable doubt that it was executed by Titian in the mid-1550s. In the painting in Philadelphia, the curtain is integral to the portrait and has not been superimposed on it; it seems to refer to Archinto's abortive appointment as archbishop of Milan, since the episcopal ring on the right hand is exposed.