News-Antique.com - Nov 30,-0001 - Photo shows Titian while being restored. CHRISTIE'S IMAGES LTD.2005
London – A remarkable and little-known masterpiece by Titian will be offered in Christie’s sale of Old Master Pictures on 8 December 2005. The Portrait of a Lady and her Daughter had not been seen for over 400 years having been painted over in the late 16th or early 17th century, and was only recently revealed after nearly twenty years of careful restoration. It is the most important work by the master to come to public auction for many years and is expected to realise in excess of £5 million.
Francis Russell, Deputy Chairman of Christie’s and Old Master scholar says, “This remarkable and moving portrait is one of the most notable discoveries of recent years. Titian was one of the greatest and most influential of all portrait painters, and his portraits stand at the head of a tradition, championed by such artists as van Dyck, Reynolds and Sargent.”
Women rarely feature in Titian’s considerable output of portraits, and the Portrait of a Lady and her Daughter is the only known work by Titian to show a mother and daughter. It is thought that the subjects are Titian’s daughter Emilia with one of his granddaughters. The painting probably dates from the 1550s, but was never completed. Both heads are very fully realised and imply a probing direct observation. Emilia is shown as a mature woman, no longer a girl, captured at a moment when her beauty is splendid and maternal. Her appearance is fashionable; her thick blonde hair is curled back in a torciglióne across her forehead and her dress is elaborate and ample. The daughter, whose brown hair is dressed with seed pearls, has an earring of amethyst.
The canvas was reworked soon after Titian’s death in 1576 by one of his pupils, as a Tobias and the Angel, presumably for commercial reasons. The Lady was given wings and became the Archangel Raphael, while her daughter was given a male hairstyle to become Tobias. The Tobias and the Angel was first recorded in the mid-18th century when it was in the famous Barbarigo Collection in Venice. This collection had been enriched with works by Titian in 1581 when Cristoforo Barbarigo purchased the artist’s house and studio with all their remaining contents.
The Barbarigo collection, which included other unfinished works by Titian, was sold in 1850 to Tsar Nicholas I of Russia, and the pictures, including this work, entered the Hermitage. However, a few years later, the Tsar was advised to dispose of nearly 3,000 pictures and this work was acquired by Russian aristocrat, Count Tyszkiewicz of St. Petersburg in whose family’s collection it remained until 1913.
By the 1920s, the painting, Tobias and the Angel, belonged to the renowned picture dealer, René Gimpel. At the outbreak of World War II, by then in his late middle-age, René Gimpel joined the French Resistance having sent all his pictures to hiding places in London to avoid confiscation. He revealed their location to