Article first published online: 19 DEC 2006
Volume 29, Issue 5, pages 771–795, November 2006
How to Cite
HILLS, P. (2006), TITIAN'S VEILS. Art History, 29: 771–795. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8365.2006.00523.x
- Issue published online: 19 DEC 2006
- Article first published online: 19 DEC 2006
Narratives of veiling and unveiling are central to the trajectory of Titian's art. His arrival in Venice coincided with the publication of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, a romance which anticipates his conflation of Christian and pagan symbols. Ever mindful of the tropes of Christ's flesh as veil and hymen as veil, Titian brought together body, veil and paint as the stuff and subject of representation. How this unfolded in practice depended upon a telling conjunction of traditions of symbolism, contemporary material culture and the fast-developing practice of oil painting. Veils as a luxury commodity were a vital concern to the Venetian silk guild around 1510, yet they remained charged with significance beyond their mercantile value. Titian moved from precise description of veils towards a diffusion of veil-like properties throughout the weave or facture of his paint. In his last works, the painter revealed veil and flesh as one, the personal creation of his brush.