Tiziano Vecellio, one of the greatest painters in the history of art, died in Venice on August 27th, 1576. He was buried, by his own request, in the church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari.
More than two hundred years later, towards the end of the 18th century, many artists wanted to erect a monument in memory of the great painter and in 1790 the sculptor Antonio Canova was awarded the commission. The project, sadly, never came to fruition, owing to lack of funds and the fall of the Republic of Venice.
It wasn't until 1838, during a visit to Venice by the Emperor of Austria, Ferdinand I, that the idea of a monument was resurrected. A competition was duly held, which was won by a design submitted by one of Canova's pupils, Luigi Zandomeneghi (1770-1850). Work began in 1843 and Zandomeneghi was helped by his two sons, Pietro and Andrea.
The monument was completed in 1852.
The statue in the centre represents Titian flanked by allegories of Nature and Knowledge. The four other statues represent Painting, Sculpture, Graphic Art, and Architecture. The five bas-reliefs depict some of the master's most important religious works, including, in the centre, the Assumption, the painting which still adorns the high altar.
On the base sit two figures. The old man holds a tablet with the inscription: EQUES ET COMES TITIANUS SIT CAROLUS V MDLIII, a reference to the knighthood Titian received from the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. The young man's tablet is inscribed: TITIANO MONUMENTUM ERECTUM SIT. On the back is a portrait of Luigi Zandomeneghi, who died before the monument was completed.
In the pavement, to the right of the monument, are two plaques. The older of the two records: 'Here lies the great Titian, emulator of Zeuxis and Apelles.' However, during the construction of the monument, Titian's remains were searched for but not found. The second plaque duly notes: 'Ancient tombstone - Here found and repositioned - Despite there being no trace - of the mortal remains of the painter - MDCCCLII.'
Blogging about Venice:
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My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England.
Since 200I I have been living in Italy, where I run private tours of Florence, Rome &
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