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

Portrait of Ranuccio Farnese

Oil on canvas, 90 x 74 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington

Ranuccio Farnese (1530-1565) was the son of Pier Luigi Farnese, the son of Pope Paul III. He came to Venice in 1542 to be the prior of San Giovanni dei Forlani, which belonged to the Knights of Malta. The white cross on his cloak clearly shows that he is a member of the order. Only twelve years old, Ranuccio already possess the grave bearing of an adult. The way he is looking out to the left of the picture, and the slight turning of his body, makes him look as if he is about to move from the place where the artist has captured him on canvas. This movement contributes considerably to the impression of childlike freshness which the painting radiates.

This portrait is important in the artist's career for it marks the beginning of Titian's long association with the Farnese family and especially with Pope Paul III.