Titian was the first Italian artist to acquire a truly international clientele, and this owed much to the fame of his portraits. Portraiture provided a constant stimulus for his interest in psychology as well as an opportunity to meet and cultivate potential patrons. His artistic goals conformed to the expectations of a time when portraiture was more and more being used to fashion a self-conscious public image: an adequately flattering likeness, an account of the sitter's public or private status that impressed or at least was of some interest, and a record of character that was sufficiently reticent not to be intrusive or offensive but enough to bring the subject to life. It had been commonplace since antiquity to praise artists for making their sitters come alive, but the repeated praise Titian received in this respect indicates he was perceived as breaking new ground. He does this in two ways: first, by describing his sitter's personality or state of mind much more clearly and specifically than other Italian Renaissance artists, with the notable exception of Raphael; secondly, by marrying this psychological profile with an indication of the sitter's social standing - always an essential function of portraiture - in a way that allows the artist to flatter under the guise of telling the truth.
Titian was active as a portraitist throughout his whole career. Even in the final period, which saw Titian focussing his attention on religious themes, he still found the energy to paint portraits. Between 1567 and 1568 he produced two of his greatest masterpieces in this field: the Prado Self-Portrait and the Portrait of Jacopo Strada in Vienna.
|Summary of paintings by Tiziano|
|1510s | 1520s | 1530s | 1540s | 1550s | 1560s | 1570s|
|Paintings in the Frari | Paintings in the Salute|
|Mythological and allegorical themes|
|before 1540 | from 1540|
|Paintings for the castle of Ferrara | Poesie for Philip II|
|Women | Men (before 1546) | Men (from 1546)|
|Group or companion portraits|