Titian: Jacopo Pesaro being presented by Pope Alexander VI to Saint Peter (1506-11)


(Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp, Belgium)

A painting by the Italian artist Tiziano Vecelli (1488/90 - 1576), better known as Titian. This piece is a so-called 'ex-voto', a votive offering to a saint. In this case it was commissioned by Jacopo Pesaro, the Bishop of Paphos (a town on Cyprus). In August 1502 a combined Venetian/ Papal fleet managed to conquer the Island of Santa Maura on the Turks during the second Ottoman-Venetian (1499-1503. Pope Alexander VI (pontificate 1492-1503) had contributed 13 galleys to the Venetian fleet, with Jacopo Pesaro as the commander of the Papal fleet. On the painting pope Alexander VI presents Jacopo to saint Peter who is sitting on a throne. Jacopo has taken off his helmet and is holding a banner which has the coat of arms of pope Alexander VI. The dais has some classical reliefs - what this represents is not exactly clear: Venus and Cupid are visible which could refer to Paphos (in ancient Roman/ Greek times it was sacred to Venus) or an allegory which "through his love of God, victory on Santa Maura was achieved". In the background war-galleys can be seen in action, with a coastal town on the right. The tablet at the bottom reads "Ritratto di uno di casa Pesaro in Venetia che fu fatto generale di S.ta Chiesa. Tiziano F." (= Portrait of one of the Pesaro family of Venice who was made a general of the holy church. Titian made this"). Jacopo Pesaro was apparently satisfied with the result of this painting and commissioned Titian in 1518 to make the Titian the Pesaro Altarpiece for the church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice. Painting from 1506-1511.

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