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Tiziano portrayed by Giulio Romano
Tiziano portrayed by Giulio Romano, detail
Tiziano portrayed by Giulio Romano, detail

 

After leaving the ticket office, there is a room with a Titian's Portrait of Giulio Romano. Titian was communicating with Federico Gonzaga between 1522 and 1540, and from 1536 his relationship with the Mantuan court intensified. Giulio Romano, with whom he had become friendly, is portrayed in a three quarters profile holding up the ground plan of an ancient building, or the project for an unidentified religious building with a central plan. The painting is refined and restrained: the black clothes, finely delineated in grey, are barely distinguishable from the dark background that is lightened slightly towards the outlines of the figure by thin layers of green earth. The light focuses on the sitter's face and hands, which are thrown into sharp contrast with the white of the collar, cuffs and white sheet of paper. The work is historically documented in Giulio Romano's house and later in the Gonzaga collections. Then, following the fate of many works sold by the Gonzaga to Charles I of England, it became part of the royal collection and was exhibited in Whitehall. Later sold privately, it was auctioned for the first time in 1946, after which it changed hands on various occasions, remaning for over a decade in the collection of Philippine dictator, Ferdinand Marcos. It came up for sale again in 1996 when it finally became public property thanks to the Province of Mantua and Lombardia Region, who purchased it for Palazzo Te. It is interesting to compare the painted portrait with the one given by Vasari in his Lives: "Giulio was neither tall nor short, more stocky then slight, dark-skinned, handsome, with lively dark eyes, extremely likeable, always polite, a small eater, simple dresser and honourable in his way of life".