Titian (c188/1490 – 1576) was an Italian painter, the most important member of the 16th-century Venetian school. He was born in Pieve di Cadore, near Belluno (in Veneto), in the Republic of Venice. During his lifetime, he was often called da Cadore, taken from the place of his birth. Recognized by his contemporaries as “The Sun Amidst Small Stars” (recalling the final line of Dante’s Paradiso), Titian was one of the most versatile of Old Master painters, equally adept with portraits, landscape backgrounds, and mythological and religious subjects. His painting methods, particularly in the application and use of color, would exercise a profound influence not only on painters of the Italian Renaissance but on future generations of Western art. Titian’s period of greatest success was from 1530 to 1590. During the course of his long life, he painted works for Pope Paul III, Philip II of Spain, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, and King Henry VIII of England, as well as many wealthy private patrons in Venice and the Veneto.
Titian was one of the first artists to develop the use of oil paint as a medium for creating artworks. His early works were mostly in the manner of the Venetian school, but by 1500 he had developed his own style, which fusee elements of the Venetian school with that of northern Europe. He is also credited with the development of the genre of history painting.
Titian’s later works show an increasing tendency towards abstraction, and his use of color becomes increasingly expressive. In his final years, he turned to religious subjects, producing some of his most powerful works.
Titian died in Venice in 1576. His body was interred in the church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, and his grave marker is a simple stone slab inscribed with the single word “Titianus.”