TIZIANO Vecellio
(b. 1490, Pieve di Cadore, d. 1576, Venezia)

Portrait of a Woman (La Schiavona)

Oil on canvas, 117 x 97 cm
National Gallery, London

The portraits from the early period of Titian are strongly realistic. Among them the portrait of a woman, called La Schiavone, is of remarkably fine quality. Titian poses his sitters in such a way as to make the most of a novel compositional idea; the figures stand out in bold relief against the plain background and the colour emphasizes the unusual lighting, revealing the mood of the sitters as well as capturing their physical presence.

The inclusion of the sitter's portrait carved in stone may refer to the much discussed issue of the relative merits of painting and sculpture.