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Titian: His Life Hardcover – 5 Jul 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 864 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPress (5 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007175825
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007175826
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 5.6 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 184,755 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sheila Hale is the author of many books including a guidebook to Venice which prompted Eric Newby to declare she 'deserves a Nobel Prize' and by David Lodge as 'the best guidebook I have ever used'. 'Venice' went into four editions and was translated into seven languages. She has written an architectural history of Verona and has written extensively about Venice and the Veneto for a number of magazines and articles, including the New York Times.

She is the widow of the late, great John Hale with whom she worked on 'Renaissance Venice' and the classic 'The Civilisation of Europe in the Renaissance'. She is a trustee of Venice in Peril and her last book, 'The Man who Lost his Language' was one of the most widely reviewed and highly praised books of 2002. She lives in London.

Product Description

Review

‘Crammed with new or expanded or re-thought information about this stubbornly mysterious giant. Impressive … She shines a light on the mysterious conflict of energies that makes his genius so difficult to encapsulate. Hale is also an enthusiastic collector of characters and her descriptions of the band of Renaissance crackpots who constituted Titian’s employers result in some of the book’s most entertaining stretches‘ Sunday Times

‘Evokes the sensuality of Titian’s working methods and provides subtle insights into his enigmatic last paintings … a scrupulous and exhaustive account that is informed by the latest scholarship, but admirably free of academic cant … her book provides by far the richest account yet of Titian’s interactions with the city’s labyrinthine social fabric‘ Daily Telegraph

‘Magnificent … the elegance and energy of her narrative … a born biographer’s eye for detail. This is the first serious attempt for 100 years at encompassing Titian’s life. Its combination of the eminently readable and the profoundly authentic is remarkable‘ Literary Review

‘A huge and exceptional new study of the painter … a superb portrait of the artist – an example of measured scholarship, judicious opinion, and telling framing detail‘ Guardian

‘The depth of her research is both impressive and astonishing … enriched by vivid anecdotes and gossipy snippets … it all makes for compelling reading‘ Independent

‘Scholarly, erudite, endlessly inquisitive and as clear as can be … many of the bit-part players in the book are brilliantly vivid’ Mail on Sunday

‘Magisterial … a poised and sincere account of Titian’s life and art. A truly triumphal undertaking and a prodigious monument to one of the giants of Western art’ The Art Newspaper

About the Author

Sheila Hale is the author of many books including a guidebook to Venice which prompted Eric Newby to declare she 'deserves a Nobel Prize' and by David Lodge as 'the best guidebook I have ever used'. VENICE went into four editions and was translated into seven languages. She has written an architectural history of Verona and has written extensively about Venice and the Veneto for a number of magazines and articles, including the New York Times. She is the widow of the late, great John Hale with whom she worked on RENAISSANCE VENICE and the classic THE CIVILISATION OF EUROPE IN THE RENAISSANCE. She is a trustee of Venice in Peril and her last book, THE MAN WHO LOST HIS LANGUAGE was one of the most widely reviewed and highly praised books of 2002. She lives in London.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Guy on 3 Aug. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author clearly faced obstacles in writing Titian's life due to the gaps in the records. We have a great idea of his working life, but due to his seemingly self-controlled, private personality and lack of personal correspondence (his letters are nearly always to patrons, flattering for commissions or nagging for payment, and rarely in his own unschooled handwriting), it's impossible at this distance to know much about the man himself. Remarkably, no one is even aware of his second wife's name. He seems to have managed to be the most famous artist of his times without ever showing much of his inner self except through his work.

That doesn't, of course, prevent Sheila Hale from giving an extremely thorough account of his career and artistic development. It's always difficult to be exhaustive without being exhausting, especially when charting a career which lasted more than half a century, and there are sections where the casual reader can be tempted to skip ahead, but patient reading rewards those who want to better understand the paintings and their subjects. If you've ever stood spellbound before his penetrating portraits or gorgeous classical scenes bursting with lively colour, then reading about how they came to be, and how the artist achieved his remarkable effects, is fascinating, and adds rather than subtracts from the magic of the paintings themselves. Hale structures the book into lengthy Parts covering phases in Titian's career, further organised into shorter chapters which delve into a particular aspect of either his work, the history of the times, or the story of particular people (patrons, family members, and artists) whose paths crossed with Titian.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mondoro TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 26 Jan. 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Although this is a very well researched and scholarly account of the life of Titian it is not a dry academic tome but a highly readable and enjoyable book. I was particularly keen to read Hale's work as my interest in Titian had recently been sparked afresh when my `local' ,the Walker Art Gallery was included in the recent UK tour of Titian's truly stunning Diana and Actaeon. For its visit the painting was hung at comfortable eye level with a row of chairs in front of it which gave the viewer an excellent opportunity to become immersed in a masterpiece by an artist who was probably in his seventies when he produced it. The work, one of a series of three, is packed with interest. One of the highlights is the splash of red merging with a lovely blue revealed as Actaeon pulls aside a curtain of the deepest red and exposes not just the naked Diana and her beautiful nymphs but one of the skies for which Titian is so famous - a sky of that deep blue which no other artist has ever quite achieved. My only regret is that I hadn't read the book before Diana and actaeon moved on to another Gallery because Hale's biography has not only given me far more `tools' with which to appreciate Titian but has increased my admiration for him. Hale's work is packed with details and interest whilst the footnotes [so sensibly at the back of the book instead of distractingly at the foot of the page], are almost as interesting as the book itself. I particularly valued the fact that the author gives an overview not just of the history of Venice and the surrounding countries but of the complex class system operating in the city. Along with quotations from eminent art historians Sheila Hale has included a number of fascinating contemporary accounts which gives a real flavour of how Titian was viewed in his own time.Read more ›
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Roland Cassard VINE VOICE on 10 Jan. 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Titian seems to be one of those Renaissance artists most often overlooked or dismissed as not quite being top rank. This, I think, has a lot to do with what modern audiences expect from artists' lives. An artist should either live a dark and racy life (see Caravaggio), or be a jack-of-all-trades dabbling in everything from the human body to the helicopter (Leonardo da Vinci) or have an interesting sexuality (Michelangelo) to keep the biographers busy and to fire the imagination of the readers.

This romantic concept of what it means to be an artist is a bit of a modern construct, though: successful Renaissance artists were businessmen (and occasionally businesswomen) with studios filled with employees finishing off paintings or knocking out copies of the artist's biggest successes. An artist had to get commissioned to produce work and that meant pitching for business. It was more 'Dragons' Den' than romantic fantasy. Titian was one of those artists: an incredible talent who, as this biography points out, was a canny businessman as well as a fantastic painter.

Titian is also one of those artists about whom little is known. In situations like that a writer can go the Girl With a Pearl Earring route and invent a story around the bare bones of the facts or the writer can flesh out the story by giving as much colour and background as possible. Sheila Hale chooses to do the latter and with that has written a book that is not only a biography of an artist but also a book about the period in which the artist lived.
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