Man with blue sleeve

(c. 1511-1515; London, National Gallery)
   This portrait is an early work by Titian. It is not clear who is depicted, though art historians have suggested that it may be the poet Ludovico Ariosto. Some view the work as a self-portrait, while others believe the man to be a member of the Barbarigo family, among Titian's earliest patrons. Regardless of the sitter's identity, the work represents a major step forward in the development of portraiture. Previously, sitters were presented in a formal, static pose and the emphasis was on opulence and social status. Titian exchanged luxury for visual richness by loosening his brushwork and placing the man's body in an informal profile pose with a sharp turn of the head toward the viewer and a selfassured facial expression. His arm, clad in a blue sleeve, hangs over a parapet and seems to break into the viewer's space. The foreshortenings, lively pose, and character of the man depicted infuse the work with a dynamism never before seen in this genre. With this, Titian broke away from the Renaissance emphasis on permanence and opened the doors for future experiments in portraiture on the capturing of a moment in time on the pictorial surface.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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