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Titian, The Vendramin Family

Key facts
Full title The Vendramin Family, venerating a Relic of the True Cross
Artist Titian
Artist dates active about 1506; died 1576
Date made about 1540-45
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 206.1 × 288.5 cm
Acquisition credit Bought with a special grant and contributions from Samuel Courtauld, Sir Joseph Duveen, the Art Fund and the Phillips Fund, 1929.
Inventory number NG4452
Location Room 9
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Vendramin Family

This is Titian’s largest group portrait. The man in a red robe is probably Gabriel Vendramin (1484–1552). The man holding the altar may be Gabriel’s brother, Andrea Vendramin (1481–1547), and the boys are his seven sons. On the altar is a reliquary of the True Cross that their great-great-grandfather, an earlier Andrea Vendramin, had received on behalf of the Scuola Grande di S. Giovanni Evangelista in 1369. The relic was the confraternity’s greatest treasure and of great importance to the Vendramin.

The portrait was made for a specific place in the family’s Venetian palace, most likely the central hall. During painting, it was cut down on the left, probably because the patron changed the intended location. The three boys on the far left and two boys on the far right were late additions, possibly painted by an assistant.

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