Women are powerful. Art can present a woman full of elegance, grace, power and beauty far more beautiful than nature has gifted her. In this essay I will analyze the formal, stylistic and contextual characteristic of ISABELLA D’ESTE by Titian. At first sight, one can assume the character is an elegant young lady with plenty of style and full of confidence. She looks very young at age, but at the same time her eyes reflect something firm and mature. I will explore the time and place of when and where the artwork was painted in order to fully understand the artist’s intention.
The style of the art work : Titian, ISABELLA D’ESTE, 1536. Oil on canvas, 40 ¼ “ X 25 ¼”, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria. is representational, it is a painting, oil on canvas. (Run on sentence.) The subject is a portrait of ISABELLA D’ESTE, the Marchesa of the city of Mantua. Isabella sits in such an uptight and tense position, that a viewer can only assume that she is an important figure. She wears a very detailed turban and a fine embroidered dress. Over her shoulder lies a white ermine stole (a sign of wealth and refinement). The background is black, making it seem as if her dark dress is disappearing into the surroundings. Her skin is very pale and flawless in contrast to her clothing and the setting, and her piercing dark eyes portray a sense of strength (DeWitte, 35).
Titian uses different elements in the portrait. For example: the contour line appears in the turban she wears and along the upper part of her shirt. (Punctuation – remove colon and use comma or nothing.) Another strong element used by Titian is the shading scheme. ISABELLA D’ESTE is painted in a Chiaroscuro shading which was very common among the Renaissance artists. In the portrait, we can see the contrast between the very dark background and the very light skin tone. Titian uses different implied textures shown in the wavy lines of her hair, soft skin, ermine stole, and velvet dress. When looking at the portrait of ISABELLA D’ESTE, one cannot ignore the element of unity displayed through the repeated use of gold color in the details on her dress, turban, and ermine stole. This element visually ties-up all of these components together to create one very clear portrait. Titian emphasizes Isabella’s face and hands by the complexity of her dress sleeves and the unseen light on the left. Her dress almost disappears into the background.
The portrait of ISABELLA D’ESTE was painted in 1536. The time period between 1526 and 1536 is infamously (why this word?) known as the Renaissance, located in Italy. Here, Titian was a leading artist and one of the most important members of the 16th-century Venetian school. He created portraits which included some of the leading figures of that time and was known to be the masterful portrait-painter. Titian grew up on the foundation of painting in early and high Renaissance Venice, particularly Venetian style of painting characterized by deep and rich colors, an emphasis on patterns and surfaces, and a strong interest in the effects of light (Horton). As shown in Isabella’s portrait, Titian uses rich, dark-green and gold colors to visualize her dress and the boldness of her personality. Need more information about Renaissance art in general stylistic terms.
The Marchessa of Mantua, Italy, Isabella d’Este, was a patron of Renaissance learning, the arts, and was a huge collector of antiques. She was the wife of the ruler of the city, and at times ruled on behalf of her husband. Isabella was very involved in political intrigues among the nobles of Europe (Lewis). As a great patron of the arts, she funded a lot of artists in all aspects of the arts and was able to greatly influence the art production in her town of Mantua (DeWitte 35). In the article for the New Haven: Yale University Press, Rona Goffen stated that Titian clearly wished the viewers to get the impression that Isabella is a strong, intelligent women that upholds an ideal beauty and gender role (86-87). Give in-text citation: (Goffen) Surprisingly, the portrait was made when Isabella was 60 years old and was based on a written description and old portraits of her from an early age. Isabella was well aware of the effect such a painting would have on her social and political life, and being the ambitious woman she was, Isabella was very particular in regards to the way Titian would portray her, as a youthful beauty.
I truly enjoyed analyzing the portrait of ISABELLA D’STE. Titians great effort to present a strong, youthful leader is very well shown and I was extremely surprised to find her biological age at the time the portrait was painted. I learned that during the Renaissance Era. The portraits of leaders and rulers possessed great value. The effect these portraits had on the reputation and prestige of the subject was significant. Art historians say the portrait of ISABELLA D’ESTE tends to present her as arrogant, but others acknowledge the fact that women leaders of the time were on public display. These females were expected to be physically pleasing and personally charming, while at the same time showing signs of self-consciousness and purity (Portrait of Isabella d’Este (Titian) – Wikipedia). I would say the portrait is very effective in presenting Isabella as a feminine, yet extremely powerful woman.
DeWitte, Debra J.,et al. Gateways to Art: Understanding the visual Arts. 2nd ed., Thames& Hudson, 2015.
Esaak, Shelley. “The Renaissance in Venice – Art History 101 Basics.” ThoughtCo, Feb. 20, 2017, thoughtco.com/the-renaissance-in-venice-art-history-182392.
Lewis, Jone Johnson. “Isabella d’Este, First Lady of the Renaissance.” ThoughtCo, Sep. 16, 2017, thoughtco.com/isabella-deste-bio-3529705.
Rona Goffen, Titian’s Women, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997), 86-87.
Wikipedia contributors.” Portrait of Isabella d’Este (Titian) Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 13 December 2017. 1 March 2018.
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Titian, ISABELLA D’ESTE, 1536. Oil on canvas,
40 ¼”x 25 ¼” . Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria.