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Portrait of Pietro Aretino

Titian (Tiziano Vecellio) Italian

Not on view

Titian’s portrait of the rather notorious author Pietro Aretino was commissioned to be sent from Venice to Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici in Florence in 1545. Aretino may have been concerned about its reception there, given that it would be viewed alongside highly finished Florentine portraits. The author prepared the duke for the canvas’s rough and varied surface by writing (perhaps jokingly) that if he, Aretino, had paid the artist more, he might have spent more time on it, and therefore completed the drapery. In another letter, Aretino wrote that the work seemed like a sketch rather than a finished painting. At the same time, the sitter knew that the painting pulsed with life and, as he said, had a "marvelous strength." This seeming contradiction, exemplifies the debate that a non finito aesthetic could provoke.

Portrait of Pietro Aretino, Titian (Tiziano Vecellio) (Italian, Pieve di Cadore ca. 1485/90?–1576 Venice), Oil on canvas

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