Wednesday, October 29, 2014

170. Titian in Ancona

A stay along the Adriatic Coast in Italy allowed us to visit a couple of places that could have been inspected by Charles Ricketts. But they were not. He might have, though, for his work on the painter Titian. Ricketts's Titian was published by Methuen in 1910.

The 'List of Works' at the end of this monograph mentions fourteen Italian cities where Titian's paintings were held at the time, of which we visited two on this trip: Urbino and Ancona. 

In Ancona, the 'List of Works' discloses, two paintings by Titian can be seen: the 'Altar-Piece of the Madonna and Child, with St. Francis, St. Blaise, and Donor', dated 1520, in the Church of San Domenico (plate XLV in Titian), and the 'Christ on the Cross, with the Virgin, St. John, and St. Dominic', or 'Crucifixion', at the Pinacoteca (plate CXLVI).

Titian, Crucifixion, or 'Christ on the Cross'
If I say that these paintings can be seen, I should add that we did not see them. The Church of San Domenico on the Piazza del Plebiscito was closed the Sunday afternoon that we walked from the Cathedral, past the amphitheatre and the archaeological museum to the new town centre. On our tour we also came past the Pinacoteca Comunale "Francesco Podesti" e Galleria d'Arte Moderna. It was 'chiuso per ristrutturazione'.

Announcement near the door of the Art Gallery of Ancona (October 2014)
In October, many art galleries in this region, the holiday season being over, are closed, or only open by appointment, but the art gallery was closed for an undetermined period.

The information board on the facade showed what we could not see: the Titian painting among other masterpieces.

Reading the information on the collection of the Art Gallery of Ancona (October 2014)
Refurbishment, or restoration, or whatever went on inside the building (the website was not clear on the matter), should probably be welcomed.

The Ancona Art Gallery in the via Pizzecolli (October 2014)
Ricketts did not see the painting either, he did not visit Ancona for his research, and based his opinion on a photograph:

The altar-piece at Ancona is known to me only by photographyit would seem to be one of Titian's most enchanting works (Plate XLV.). Something of the abruptness of pose and freshness of design of the work done in the first decade of the century is preserved in this picture, which benefits by the more subtle surfaces belonging to a period when Titian had nothing more to master. It has doubtless the frankness of execution which belongs to all his paintings on panel. I feel a certain hesitation in confessing that to me at least there is in this picture, and in 'The Entombment' (finished or delivered in 1523), a survival of something almost Giorgionesque, to use a vague and often abused expression. True, the Madonna at Ancona is dissimilar in facial type to any other of Titian's Virgins. She leans forward in the gracious pose which Titian often affects, but she strikes one as a portrait of some winning but not beautiful woman. She is not the matronly goddess of the 'Assunta' - she seems also nearer nature than the sedate or gracious Madonnas he has painted hitherto, whose placid beauty ranks them after all as the more dignified sisters of the lovely 'Vanitas.' The sky on which the Virgin rests, breaks into the billowy masses and the large white strata of cloud which Titian paints in the 'Bacchus and Ariadne.' In the two fig leaves against the sky the painter reverts to a scheme of things which was in vogue when Bellini was still alive, and in the design of the donor and the ardent figure of St. Blaise we are reminded at once of the 'St. Mark' in the Salute [in Venice], and even of the 'Baffo.' We are all the more conscious of this when we glance at the Pesaro family where the Bishop of Paphos kneels as an older man, and the singular freshness or abruptness in gesture in the picture at Ancona is forced upon us. (page 63)

Titian, Gozzi Altarpiece, or 'Madonna and Child' 
We didn't see the Titian paintings in Ancona - a city we enjoyed on a very hot October day, - however, we were luckier in Urbino.