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Between noble judgement and artistic taste : Titian and Coxcie’s images of Christ and the Virgin for Charles V

Astrid Harth (UGent)
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Abstract
In 1548, Francisco de Holanda advised the princes of the Church in his Diálogos em Roma to be rigorous in their demands of artists who render copies of Christ and the Virgin. In the same year, Titian offered an Ecce Homo to Charles V at the imperial court in Augsburg. Departing from the first icon of the Imago Pietatis, the Italian master merged this traditional iconographic type with earlier Renaissance iterations of the Ecce Homo that show Christ accompanied by Pilate and the Jewish crowd, by following Dürer’s copperplate representation of the theme. The latter was part of one of the most successful sets of prints by Dürer executed between 1507 and 1513. The German artist himself had a special appreciation for this series and took it with him to the Low Countries in the early 1520s to present as gifts. Titian’s recreation of the icon-type pleased the Emperor who immediately commissioned two Mater Dolorosa images as pendant pieces to the Ecce Homo. For this royal assignment, Titian received a Flemish model from the Holy Roman Emperor and altered his lauded brushwork to turn to the ‘Netherlandish style.’ After completion, Titian’s paintings were sent to the Coudenbergh before Charles V took them to Yuste in 1556. Interestingly, at Yuste Titian’s icon-types were paired up with images of Christ and the Virgin by the Netherlandish painter Michiel Coxcie. More precisely, the inventory of Charles V’s last possessions informs us that one of Titian’s Mater Dolorosa paintings was paired with a Christ Carrying the Cross by Coxcie, while, Titian’s Ecce Homo formed the companion piece to the now lost painting of the Virgin by Coxcie. Today, it is not clear which paintings by Coxcie exactly hung in diptych arrangement with Titian’s half-length narratives at the Hieronymite monastery of Yuste. Nevertheless, the rearrangement of the pendant pieces with works of a Netherlandish master in combination with Titian’s experimentation with marrying his own ‘grand triumphalist style’ and the Northern artistic tradition requires special attention. Modern scholarship has often understood this royal commission as a sign of the Habsburg continuing taste for traditional Flemish paintings, or a so-called archaism fueled by contemporary devotional practice. In a recent discussion of Charles V’s collection at Yuste, for instance, Fernando Checa Cremades (2010) has suggested that the rearrangement of the devotional artworks by Titian and Coxcie demonstrates the fact that the emperor valued the paintings’ devotional use more than their artistic merits. Hence, these discussions have largely ignored this set of images’ complex genesis as well as their relation to one another. Therefore, within the context of Holanda’s concerns about sacred images and renaissance culture of emulation, this paper argues that these commissions by Charles V from Titian and Coxcie reveal pictorial innovations devised to demonstrate technical virtuosity and theoretical ambitions while signaling Habsburg imperial power.

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MLA
Harth, Astrid. “Between Noble Judgement and Artistic Taste : Titian and Coxcie’s Images of Christ and the Virgin for Charles V.” HNA Conference 2018, Abstracts, 2018, pp. 87–88.
APA
Harth, A. (2018). Between noble judgement and artistic taste : Titian and Coxcie’s images of Christ and the Virgin for Charles V. In HNA Conference 2018, Abstracts (pp. 87–88). Ghent, Belgium.
Chicago author-date
Harth, Astrid. 2018. “Between Noble Judgement and Artistic Taste : Titian and Coxcie’s Images of Christ and the Virgin for Charles V.” In HNA Conference 2018, Abstracts, 87–88.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Harth, Astrid. 2018. “Between Noble Judgement and Artistic Taste : Titian and Coxcie’s Images of Christ and the Virgin for Charles V.” In HNA Conference 2018, Abstracts, 87–88.
Vancouver
1.
Harth A. Between noble judgement and artistic taste : Titian and Coxcie’s images of Christ and the Virgin for Charles V. In: HNA Conference 2018, Abstracts. 2018. p. 87–8.
IEEE
[1]
A. Harth, “Between noble judgement and artistic taste : Titian and Coxcie’s images of Christ and the Virgin for Charles V,” in HNA Conference 2018, Abstracts, Ghent, Belgium, 2018, pp. 87–88.
@inproceedings{8710812,
  abstract     = {{In 1548, Francisco de Holanda advised the princes of the Church in his Diálogos em Roma to be rigorous in their demands of artists who render copies of Christ and the Virgin. In the same year, Titian offered an Ecce Homo to Charles V at the imperial court in Augsburg. Departing from the first icon of the Imago Pietatis, the Italian master merged this traditional iconographic type with earlier Renaissance iterations of the Ecce Homo that show Christ accompanied by Pilate and the Jewish crowd, by following Dürer’s copperplate representation of the theme. The latter was part of one of the most
successful sets of prints by Dürer executed between 1507 and 1513. The German artist himself had a special appreciation for this series and took it with him to the Low Countries in the early 1520s to present as gifts. Titian’s recreation of the icon-type pleased the Emperor who immediately commissioned two Mater Dolorosa images as pendant pieces to the Ecce Homo. For this royal assignment, Titian received a Flemish model from the Holy Roman Emperor and altered his lauded brushwork to turn to the ‘Netherlandish style.’ After completion, Titian’s paintings were sent to the Coudenbergh before Charles V took them to Yuste in 1556. Interestingly, at Yuste Titian’s icon-types were paired up with images of Christ and the Virgin by the Netherlandish painter Michiel Coxcie. More precisely, the inventory of Charles V’s last possessions informs us that one of Titian’s Mater Dolorosa paintings was paired with a Christ Carrying the Cross by Coxcie, while, Titian’s Ecce Homo formed the companion piece to the now lost painting of the Virgin by Coxcie. Today, it is not clear which paintings by Coxcie exactly hung in diptych arrangement with Titian’s half-length narratives at the Hieronymite monastery of Yuste. Nevertheless, the rearrangement of the pendant pieces with works of a Netherlandish master in combination with Titian’s experimentation with marrying his own ‘grand triumphalist style’ and the Northern artistic tradition requires special attention. Modern scholarship has often understood this royal commission as a sign of the Habsburg continuing taste for traditional Flemish paintings, or a so-called archaism fueled by contemporary devotional practice. In a recent discussion of Charles V’s collection at Yuste, for instance, Fernando Checa Cremades (2010) has suggested that the rearrangement of the devotional artworks by Titian and Coxcie demonstrates the fact that the emperor valued the paintings’ devotional use more than their artistic merits. Hence, these discussions have largely ignored this set of images’ complex genesis as well as their relation to one another. Therefore, within the context of Holanda’s concerns about sacred images and renaissance culture of emulation, this paper argues that these commissions by Charles V from Titian and Coxcie reveal pictorial innovations devised to demonstrate technical virtuosity and theoretical ambitions while signaling Habsburg imperial power.}},
  author       = {{Harth, Astrid}},
  booktitle    = {{HNA Conference 2018, Abstracts}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  location     = {{Ghent, Belgium}},
  pages        = {{87--88}},
  title        = {{Between noble judgement and artistic taste : Titian and Coxcie’s images of Christ and the Virgin for Charles V}},
  url          = {{https://hnanews.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/FULL-PROGRAM-LOGISTICS-HNA-2018.pdf}},
  year         = {{2018}},
}