Pietro Aretino

Titian (Tiziano Vecellio)
Pieve di Cadore 1488/90–1576 Venice
Pietro Aretino, ca. 1537
Oil on canvas
40 1/8 x 33 3/4 in. (101.9 x 85.7 cm)
The Frick Collection; Henry Clay Frick Bequest

Titian was a close friend of the famed writer, poet, playwright, and satirist Pietro Aretino (1492–1556) and painted at least two other portraits of him. In this imposing work, Aretino grips his fur-lined vest with a gloved hand, his grey beard mingling with the brown fur. A heavy gold chain hangs over his chest and shoulders. Through the figure’s pronounced corpulence, Titian captures the monumental personality of Aretino — called the “scourge of princes” for his critiques and correspondence that sometimes verged on blackmail. At the same time, his upturned gaze connotes the intellect of the humanist writer, whose poetry and prose are among the most significant of the sixteenth century.