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

Portrait of Pietro Aretino

Oil on canvas, 97 x 78 cm
Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence

Pietro Aretino was a well-known poet of his period. Exiled from Mantua he settled in Venice. He was famous because of his satirical poems.

The portrait of Pietro Aretino was sent by the sitter to Florence in 1545 as a gift to Cosimo I. Titian has been kind to Aretino's dissolute, satyr-like features as we know them from other portraits and medals. Today one can safely admire the sleeves of silk velvet conjured up so economically by a few slashing brush strokes, but Aretino complained that the costume was not properly finished since Titian had not been paid enough. Wearing a chain and swathed in the deep red of the Venetian patriciate, he stands ennobled by his own efforts, a potent advertisement for the rewards available to men of talent in the liberal and tolerant embrace of the Serenissima.