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Titian: The Last Days [Hardcover]

Mark Hudson


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Book Description

Dec 8 2009
A compelling portrait of the life, work, and meaning of one of the greatest artists of all time.

Toward the end of his long life, Tiziano Vecelli—known to the world ever since as Titian (circa 1488– 1576)—was at work on a number of paintings that he kept in his studio, never quite completing them, as though wanting to endlessly postpone the moment of closure. Produced with his fingers as much as with the brush, Titian’s last paintings are imbued with a unique rawness and immediacy without precedent in the history of Western art. As if to further cloud their meaning, after the outbreak of plague that took his life, Titian’s studio was looted and many canvases were taken; what happened to them is not known.

But what did Titian, who had experienced as much in the way of material success and critical acclaim as any artist before or since, mean by these works? Titian: The Last Days is a quest through the great artist’s life and work toward the physical and spiritual landscape of his last paintings. Vividly re-creating the atmosphere of sixteenth-century Venice and Europe, Mark Hudson chronicles Titian’s relationships with his own mentors (Bellini and Giorgione), rivals, and patrons—among them popes, kings, and emperors— as well as his troubled dealings with his own family. Paralleling this narrative is Hudson’s personal journey through Titian’s life and career, exploring the relentless formal development that led to the breakthroughs of his last days, and the mystery behind his missing paintings.

Moving from Titian’s hometown in the Dolomites to the greatest churches and palaces of the age, to Venice then and now, Titian: The Last Days is an original and compelling study of one of Europe’s greatest artists.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Walker & Company; 1 edition (Dec 8 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080271076X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802710765
  • Product Dimensions: 24.2 x 17.5 x 2.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 522 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,950,750 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

“Hudson employs a variety of strategies and tones in this remarkably engaging story. He is at times the pedagogue, the dazzled fan, the nervous tourist, the frustrated scholar, the disgusted critic (especially with verbose and pretentious art historians)…. Hudson does not neglect the artist’s personal life, filling us in on what’s known about his love life and his children. Most captivating, however, is the author’s own journey, from Venice to Spain to Czechoslovakia and elsewhere to follow the story of the great Italian painter. Intense passion and humble scholarship infuse this personal odyssey of discovery with arresting power.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“With wit, irreverence, a keen eye, and a shrewd imagination, Hudson recounts his fumbling search for fresh perspectives on Titian and shares his provocative discoveries.... Like a regal figure on an old, newly restored canvas, Titian, ‘a figure of almost limitless creativity,’ emerges resplendent from these lively pages.”Booklist

About the Author

Mark Hudson is the author of two prizewinning works of nonfiction published in England: Our Grandmothers’ Drums, which won the Somerset Maugham and Thomas Cook awards in 1990, and Coming Back Brockens, which won the 1994 NCR Award, the precursor to the Samuel Johnson Prize for the best nonfiction book of the year. His novel, The Music in My Head, was published to critical acclaim in 1998. He is a regular contributor to the Telegraph and also writes for the Guardian, the Sunday Times, and other publications. He lives in London.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A biography of Titan's life and times, re-creating 16th century Venice for any who would study his life and works April 19 2010
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Titan: The Last Days offers art libraries a survey of one Tiziano Vecillio, also known as Titan, who worked on a number of paintings that vanished when his studio was looted after his death. This considers his relationships with his mentors, rivals and patrons and offers a biography of Titan's life and times, re-creating 16th century Venice for any who would study his life and works.
5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Should have been better . . . . March 19 2010
By Waldo Lydecker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Not an art history or even a history book, but rather a travelogue on Hudson's mostly failed attempt to track down facts and place to illuminate a story on Titian's last days during the Venetian plague.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Highs and Lows March 17 2011
By JAB - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book could have started half way through, or changed the title from something other than "Titian: The Last Days," since the book's scope is considerably wider than just when Titian died of the plague in 1576. I sincerely enjoyed the last three chapters, and appreciated the analysis provided in these pages. However I felt that the first half of the book was not nearly as strong, and readers would be better served by reading another source if you want to learn about Titian's life.
8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another pair of eyes Jan. 14 2010
By Gray Helen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As someone who looks and a picture and rapidly loses interest because it aint moving, it has always been something of a surprise that in days before video a painting could evoke the sort of response amongst the public that say a trip to see Avatar in 3D can nowadays. Fusty old painting hung in gloomy rooms or even contemporary art works hung in garish art centres financed by some arts council or other, have always provoked a rapid movement to the souvenir shop and the tea room and contemplation of my Philistine soul. I'm an arty person, a creative individual, deeply entrenched in esoteric histories, world-cultures, and well dug into the trenches of artistic creation, and yet paintings often seems little more than interior decoration. So it is refreshing to read a work of art criticism and history, that does not just deal with the biographical details, but the response to the art both then and now, along with their own personal relationship with it. It flies in the face of pretension while at the same time maintains their capacity for awe at the achievement and relish at some of the banality of the business of art. The Last Days Of Titian gives one another pair of eyes to look at these things and explains why anyone bothers. Art here is both a window into another world and a mirror reflecting oneself in one's own. Multi-point perspective is the term that comes to mind when reading this trip into the renaissance.
6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars titian the last days Jan. 18 2010
By Collector - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Great subject, but written in a fake dramatic manner: made-up dialogue and completely fabricated scenes in which, for instance, imagined smells and events from Titian's studio are concocted by the author: a cheap mentality that is not in keeping with the greatness of the paintings Hudson tries to discuss.
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