Portrait of a Man

Titian (Italian, about 1487-1576)

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This portrait is striking in its frank engagement with the viewer. The unknown sitter gazes confidently outward. The fine rendering of his face contrasts with that of the painterly brush strokes describing draped velvet, luxurious fur, and soft hair. This fluent manipulation of color was a key feature of Venetian painting that was championed by Titian. He would later become one of the region’s leading artists and famous among the kings and princes of Europe.

And certainly coloring is so important and compelling that, when the painter produces a good imitation of the tones and softness of flesh, and the rightful characteristics of any object there may be, he makes his paintings seem alive. —Lodovico Dolce

Possibly Nicolò Renieri [1591-1667], Venice, Italy.{1}
Possibly the Duc de Mouchy.{2}
Possibly Prince Orloff, Gatschina Palace outside Saint Petersburg, Russia.{3}
Sale (Sotheby's, London, England) in 1930;{4}
Purchased by Powell.{5}
(Jean Schmit, Paris, France);{6}
(E. and A. Silberman Galleries, New York, New York) by 1937;{7}
Booth Tarkington [1869-1946], Indianapolis, Indiana, by 1938;{8}
Sold back to Silberman Galleries by Tarkington's widow;
Purchased by a number of Indianapolis citizens;
Given to the John Herron Art Institute, now the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, as a gift in memory of Booth Tarkington, in 1947 (47.1).{9}
{1} The painter Nicolò Renieri (Nicolas Régnier) is mentioned as the owner of a painting of the poet Ludovico Ariosto by Titian in Carlo Ridolfi, Le Maraviglie dell Arte, Ovvero Le Vite degli Illustri Pittori Veneti e dello stato, Venice, 1648, reprint Berlin, 1914-24. Hans Tietze was the first to propose that the subject of the IMA painting is Ariosto, though not all scholars agree. Harold Wethey, author or The Paintings of Titian, volume II: The Portraits, London, 1971, catalogue no. 7, questions this identification.
{2} See footnote 6 below. This has not been verified.
{3} See footnote 6 below. It is known that Comte Grégoire Orloff [1777-1826] wrote an Essai sur l’histoire de la peinture en italie, depuis les temps les plus anciens jusqu’a nos jours, Paris, 1823, but ownership by the Orloff family has not been verified.
{4} Sotheby's, London, "Catalogue of Pictures by Old Masters of the Italian, Dutch and French Schools, The Property of Daniel Campbell, Esq., the Property of M.H. Woodward, Esq. and other properties", 29 January 1930, lot no. 52A (ex-catalogue, but noted in an annotated copy of the auction catalogue.)
{5} See London Times, "The Sale Room, 30 January 1930", where it is identified as a "portrait of a gentleman," and see "Prices and Buyers Names" supplement to Sotheby's auction catalogue.
{6} William Suida remembered seeing the portrait in the home of the Parisian dealer Jean Schmit at an unspecified date, see his letter to Wilbur Peat dated 18 June 1947 in IMA Historical File (47.1). Schmit, in turn, informed Suida, via an intermediary, of the provenance of the painting, which Suida passed on to the director of the Herron Art Institute in 1948. He lists: Comte de St. Léon, Duc de Mouchy; Prince Orloff, Palais Gatchina; Jean Schmidt (sic), Paris; Silberman, New York. A custom's stamp ("Douane Centrale Exportation Paris"), appearing on a removed portion of the stretcher bar, confirms that the painting passed through France. An additional custom's stamp (Z. Stelle f. Denkmalschutz im Bdsmin. F. Unterr., meaning Zentrale Stelle für Denkmalschutz im Bundesministerium für Unterricht") presumed to be Austrian (or German?) has not yet been linked to a previous owner.
{7} Copy of a letter from Hans Tietze, Vienna, Austria, to Mr. Silberman, dated 14 April 1937 in IMA Historical File (47.1).
{8} Letter documenting the sale, sent to Booth Tarkington by E. and A. Silberman Galleries, New York, dated 2 June, 1938 in IMA Historical File (47.1).
{9} See "Tarkington's Titian kept", New York Times, 26 January 1947. Here it is stated that the noted art historian Hans Tietze was a former owner of the painting, which is in error.

Object Information

Titian (Italian, about 1487-1576)
creation date
about 1508-1510
oil on canvas
23-1/2 x 18-1/2 in. (canvas)
31-1/4 x 26-1/4 x 2-3/4 in. (framed)
accession number
credit line
Gift in memory of Booth Tarkington
Public Domain
European Painting and Sculpture Before 1800

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