VITTORIA, Alessandro
(b. 1525, Trento, d. 1608, Venezia)

Doge Nicolò da Ponte

Terracotta, 100 cm with socle
Pinacoteca Manfrediniana, Venice

In this terracotta bust Vittoria's great freedom - resembling the impasto technique of late Titian paintings - is displayed in the painterly beard. The interest in texture and in capturing the outward pomp of Venice is reflected in the patterned brocade of the Doge's garment. It is his only depiction of a doge in ducal regalia: the rich robe undulates to impart a sense of movement and its massiveness lends grandeur and power.

Designed for the Doge's tomb, it marks a departure from the customary ducal full-length portrait. It was also a drastic change from durable marble to perishable terracotta (perhaps an acknowledgment of Vittoria's prowess in the medium). The wisdom of old age (celebrated in the gerontocracy of Venice) is successfully captured in a poetic but powerful portrayal that ranks with Titian's of elderly people.