Portrait of Ranuccio Farnese (1542). Artist: Tiziano Vecelli （Titian)
Ranuccio Farnese was 11 years old when Titian began to paint his portrait. Adult responsibility came to Ranuccio when he was still a child, as Titian brilliantly conveyed through the cloak of office, too large and heavy, sliding off the boy’s small shoulders.
When this painting was commissioned, Ranuccio had been sent to Venice by his grandfather, Pope Paul III, to become prior to an important property belonging to the Knights of Malta. A member of the powerful and aristocratic Farnese family, Ranuccio went on to an illustrious ecclesiastical career. He was made archbishop of Naples at the age of 14; by the time he was 19, he was the patriarch of Constantinople and archbishop of Ravenna. He became archbishop of Milan in 1564, shortly before dying when he was only 35 years old.
Portraits by Titian were in great demand, distinguished as they were for their remarkable insight into the character and their brilliant technique. Here, he limited his palette to black, white, and rose and enlivened the surface with light: the dull gleam rippling over the sleeves of the velvet cloak, the pattern flickering across the slashed doublet, and the changing reflections on the satin Maltese Cross.
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