The director had asked for a religious painting and I chose this, partly because I'd made a tiny copy of it years ago (about 6"x 8") and because it sets a suitable solemn and compassionate mood.
Titian's wonderful work, squared up for copying.
Initial drawing on a rather blotchy overpainted ground.
94cm x 64cm
I had initially started painting very loosely recalling Ruben's method of putting in white impasto highlights early on, loosely applied. I went a bit over the top, but was just experimenting and couldn't stop myself. It was a mix of home made Titanium white, some varnish binder (dammar maybe) in egg tempera mixture, which I'd had in the freezer for years.
Starting the colour using oils. It was a pretty rough start causing a bit of difficulty later in taming it down.
So I had to back pedal and wrestle with it a bit to bring in a bit more accuracy.
My more or less finished copy below, I can see lots still needs doing, but out of time but it and it does the job.
I've always looked long and hard at Titian's work (and others) and now realize I have been actually absorbing something and could begin to usefully use some of his methods from memory. Being restricted by time, and not wanting slavish copy but more capture a feeling of his style, perfect accuracy wasn't the goal.
To sum up .....One rarely gets a chance to copy an old master painting. After starting working from a book reproduction, I went to the National Gallery to look closely at the Titians and realized that it was essential to see how he built up the drawing and laid the paint on in various ways, scumbled layers and glazes etc. So when I returned I could see where I'd been going wrong, drawing rather dark hard lines instead of building up the drawing with softer siennas, particularly noticeable with his depiction of hands. The Madonna below is one of my most favourite paintings. Everything is so softly even blurrily painted, and the glazing like nothing else I've seen, so many thin colours blending and picking up the canvas texture, particularly over the blue gown. Most of the shadow in the gown was added later in multiple glazes.
Virgin with Child (National Gallery)
Some of Titian's later work can be incredibly loose. ie "The Death of Actaeon" (National Gallery)
But his earlier work is more precise combining a confident looseness juxtaposed with incredible delicacy, particularly in the drapery of the figures. One of the finest bits of painting is in the Bacchus and Ariadne painting (National Gallery) - in the lower LH corner is a crumpled yellowish cloth with an urn tipped on it's side, engraved with his name. If you can get there to see it take a look at the way that cloth is painted. No photos can really show that but here is the detail to show one what to look for. One needs to get up close as possible to see it, but stay behind the rope security!