Pub. Date:
Yale University Press
Titian and Tragic Painting: Aristotle's

Titian and Tragic Painting: Aristotle's "Poetics" and the Rise of the Modern Artist

by Thomas Puttfarken


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Late in his life Titian created a series of paintings—the “Four Sinners,” the “poesie” for his patron Philip II of Spain, and the “Final Tragedies”—that were dark in tone and content, full of pathos and physical suffering.

In this major reinterpretation of Titian’s art, Thomas Puttfarken shows that the often dramatic and violent subject matter of these works was not, as is often argued, the consequence of the artist’s increasing age and sense of isolation and tragedy. Rather, these paintings were influenced by discussions of Aristotle’s Poetics that permeated learned discourse in Italy in the mid-sixteenth century. The Poetics led directly to a rich theory of the visual arts, and painting in particular, that enabled artists like Titian to consider themselves on equal footing with poets. Puttfarken investigates Titian’s late works in this context and analyzes his relations with his patrons, his intellectual and humanistic contacts, and his choices of subject matter, style, and technique.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300110005
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 11/10/2005
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 7.50(w) x 10.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Thomas Puttfarken, professor of art history and theory at the University of Essex, is also the author of The Discovery of Pictorial Composition: Theories of Visual Order in Painting, 1400–1800 and Roger de Piles’ Theory of Art, both published by Yale University Press.

Table of Contents

Part IOn the Status of Painting in the Renaissance
1Painting, Poetry and the Liberal Arts15
2Imitation, Moral Purpose and Learning41
Part IITitian and Tragedy
4The Four Great Sinners77
5Michelangelo and Titian: Terribilita and Tragic Pathos97
6Titian's Mythological Paintings: Problems of Interpretation129
7Titian's poesie for Philip II as Painted Tragedies155
8The Final Tragedies and Titian's 'Late Style'183
Photograph Credits240

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