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Archbishop Filippo Archinto

c. 1558
Titian (Tiziano Vecellio), Italian (active Venice), first securely documented 1508, died 1576
The unusual portrayal of this man can be explained by facts known about his life. Archinto was appointed archbishop of Milan in 1556, but political troubles prevented his taking possession of the post. The veil obscuring him from view stands for these difficulties. The episcopal ring, which the artist carefully reveals just outside the veil, symbolizes Archinto's legal right to office....

Object Details
Archinto family, Milan; Marchese Giuseppe Archinto (d. 1861), Milan [1]; his sale, Hôtel des commissaires-priseurs (also known as Hôtel Drouot), Paris, May 18, 1863, no. 59 (as Titian) [2]. With Italico Brass, Venice, by October 1909 [3]; delivered to Eugène Fischhof, Paris, December 28, 1909; sold to John G. Johnson, 1909; bequest to the City of Philadelphia, 1917.1. The Johnson painting was seen and admired by Otto Mündler in the Palazzo Archinto in Milan on January 13, 1856. Otto Mündler, diary entry for January 13, 1856, in “The Travel Diaries of Otto Mündler, 1855–1858,” ed. Carol Togneri Dowd, Volume of the Walpole Society, vol. 51 (1985), p. 93.2. The Johnson picture and another version of the portrait now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York are thought to have had similar provenances until 1909–13, when they were both sold by the painter and art dealer Italico Brass. The New York picture was reportedly in a private collection in Italy from 1863 to 1913.3. Bernard Berenson saw the painting in Venice in late October 1909 and encouraged Johnson to buy it, noting that “it is thus about the date of the Maniago Titian[s] that the Wideners have just got and in every way of as fine a quality. They naturally are more attractive. And there is your chance.” Berenson to Johnson, November 8, 1909, Correspondence, John G. Johnson Papers, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Library and Archives, archives.philamuseum.org/jgj/JGJ_B001_F009_037. The Widener Titians—portraits of Irene di Spilimbergo and Emilia di Spilimbergo—are now attributed to a follower of the artist and are in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

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