Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Titian Portrait of Mary?

Rediscovered Portrait of Mary?

Has a new portrait of Mary by no less an artist that Titian come to light?

Below an image of the painting and the reverse on which is clearly legible the words " Titianus F(ecit). 


Assuming the portrait is of Mary she is obviously somewhat older and could not be a life painting.

Titian lived from 1488 to 1576 and the painting has been dated to 1574 and suggested that it was commissioned by King Henry 111 of France when he visited Titian and when he seems to have commissioned quite a number of portraits. If this is correct this would make Mary 33 and Titian in his late eighties. It has also been stated that there was communication by letter between Mary and Francis at this time .

Anyone able to confirm or throw further light on this? I have certainly found reference to letters to Francis penned by Mary at Tutberry in 1569; said to be 'written without light' and smuggled out of the Castle although intercepted and not received, (by this time though Titian would be dead) and also of remonstrations by Francis to Elizabeth regarding the strictness of Mary's confinement.

Assuming this to be the case what image of Mary might Francis have passed to Titian for him to work on?

My attention has also been drawn to a book "The Castles of Mary, Queen of Scots" by Charles Mackie of 1835 which (page 53) contains the following;

"I thought I had done very well by this transaction, until I saw in the Morning Chronicle ,a flaming puff, stating that "an original portrait of Mary Queen of Scotland the undoubted work of Titian, value one thousand guineas was to be seen at No 14 Pall Mall price of admission 2s.6d"

The bait took Mr. F... put £300 or £400 in his pocket by the exhibition and sold the portrait for £700 or £800."

Could this be the same portrait? Even if it is doesn't of course in itself prove the genuineness of the portrait.

The book is out of copyright and can be downloaded free on

Lots of background work on the provenance of the portrait still to be done - obviously for the experts but if genuine a most interesting historical portrait.


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