Titian’s Portrait of Ippolito de’ Medici (1533)

Titian's Portrait of Ippolito de' Medici is not as simple as it looks. The elements are few though the eye is clearly drawn after the face to the bottom edge where his hand holds the sword. Swords often symbolize paintbrushes and he holds the shaft of this one as though its grip were phallic, positioned where his phallus should be on the inside.1 It is a fertility symbol of Titian's craft (hand), with its phallic "tip" directly under Ippolito's eye linking it with vision too. The phallus' presence on the outside of his clothes is also a sign that, like most poetic images, the scene is inside out. It looks like exterior nature but is inside Titian's head.

We know that Titian morphed his initials (TV) into an object in Christ Flagellated as Raphael often did with an R.2 Indeed an artist's hidden initial is so common that they are always worth looking for.

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Captions for image(s) above:

Titian, Portrait of Ippolito de' Medici (1533) Oil on canvas. Palazzo Pitti, Florence

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Here a chain hangs from the sword to form the stem of a T with a curved top (see diagram below). To its right, the sword's crossguard touches the frame's edge as does the chain. We can only imagine then that the two converging lines meet in a V outside the image, thereby bridging two realities like the artist, that of the picture and studio.

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Captions for image(s) above:

Detail (top) and diagram (bottom) of Titian's Portrait of Ippolito de' Medici

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Now note how Ippolito's other arm is extended like a painter's; although looking stiff and formal, he is posed like an artist looking into a mirror while working on an unseen canvas at its edge. The entire image is "a mirror". He is a self-representation, posed like Titian painting it but dressed in Hungarian costume like a model. As I so often show on EPPH, artist and model are subject and object united, one and the same. I won't show it this time but he even has the facial features of a young Titian too.







 

Captions for image(s) above:

Titian, Portrait of Ippolito de' Medici (1533)

Click image to enlarge.

Notes:

1. The phallus' presence on the outside of his clothes is a sign that, like most images in art, the scene is inside out.

2. See the theme Swords/Weapons as Brushes.

Original Publication Date on EPPH: 16 Oct 2013. © Simon Abrahams. Articles on this site are the copyright of Simon Abrahams. To use copyrighted material in print or other media for purposes beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. Websites may link to this page without permission (please do) but may not reproduce the material on their own site without crediting Simon Abrahams and EPPH.