The international exhibition of paintings at the Frick Collection is a pearl of human culture, whose importance and features are impossible to describe in such a short paper. Out of the vast selection of works, I have chosen two paintings and shall refer to them in greater detail: Titian’s 1516 Portrait of a Man in a Red Cap and Goya’s 1824 Portrait of a Lady.
Tiziano Vecellio (1477/90-1576), better known as Titian, was a Venetian renaissance artist, a representative of his town’s slightly different approach to art and the role of the artist. That is, while the much more famous Florentine movement referred to art as a science and expanded their work far beyond the visual crafts, Titian and other Venetians supported their court patrons’ interest in beauty and luxury (Feldman, 77, 90).
One example for this approach is his 1516 Portrait of a Man in a Red Cap (Oil on canvas, 323/8 x 28). Here the sitter presents the richness of the era and its people through his clothes. Titian’s supremacy in Venice and his fame around Europe was thanks to his highly detailed works (Gable, “Titian [Tiziano Vecellio],” par. 3), which depicted lively and emotional situations. This ability, which can be easily seen in Portrait of a Man in a Red Cap, helped Titian afterwards to become a favorite portrait artist for noblemen and religious leaders, a tremendous source of pride in his time.
Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828) was a revolutionary artist, whose work opened new horizons in painting techniques as well as in his clear thematic approach, most importantly in terms of direct political criticism, which challenged the old orders, often from within the Spanish court (Feldman, 177). Only retrospectively people understand Goya’s significance as a transformer of the artist from a craftsman at the service of the regime (also when regimes change) to an artist with individual style and liberal perceptions of politics, war and theology. By that, many perceive Goya as the godfather of early modernism (Booth, par. 2).
Portrait of a Lady (Oil on canvas, 31½ x 23, 1824) was probably one of the last works before his departure to exile in Bordeaux and stood in the Frick Collection’s 2006 exhibition “Goya’s Last Works.” The sitter in this painting is not identified, though it is believed to be María Martínez de Puga. Just as Goya shifted its focus towards modernism, this painting remarks the artist’s loose attention to graphic details. This can be seen, for example, by the use of rough brush stains and the near absence of small elements.
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Booth, Mike. “Francisco De Goya.” The World Printmakers: Great Printmakers Series. 29 July 2009 <http://www.worldprintmakers.com/masters/goya.htm>
Feldman, Edmund B. The Artist: A Social History (2/E). Englewood: Prentice Hall, 1995.
Gable, C. I. “Titian [Tiziano Vecellio].” Italian Culture and History. 29 July 2009 <http://www.boglewood.com/cornaro/xtitian.html>
Special Exhibition: Goya’s Last Works. 2006. The Frick Collection. 20 July 2009 <http://www.frick.org/exhibitions/goya/exhibition.htm>
“Titian (ca. 1488–1576).” The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 20 July 2009 <http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/tita/hd_tita.htm>
“What was the Black Death and how did it affect the Renaissance?” Realm Collections. 29 July 2009 <http://blog.realmcollections.com/2008/10/what-was-the-black-death-and-how-did-it-affect-the-renaissance/>