Pope Paul III and His Grandsons
Pope Paul III and His Grandsons is a painting in oil on canvas by Titian, housed in the Museo di Capodimonte, Naples. It was commissioned by the Farnese family and painted during Titian’s visit to Rome between autumn 1545 and June 1546. The painting explores the effects of ageing and the manoeuvring behind succession.
About Pope Paul III and His Grandsons in brief
Pope Paul III and His Grandsons is a painting in oil on canvas by Titian, housed in the Museo di Capodimonte, Naples. It was commissioned by the Farnese family and painted during Titian’s visit to Rome between autumn 1545 and June 1546. The painting explores the effects of ageing and the manoeuvring behind succession. Paul was at the time in his late seventies and ruling in an uncertain political climate as Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor came into ascendancy. Titian abandoned the commission before completion, and for the next 100 years the painting languished unframed in a Farnese cellar. It is renowned for its rich colouring; the deep reds of the tablecloth and the almost spectral whites of Paul’s gown. The panel contains subtle indications of the contradictions in the character of the Pope, and captures the complex psychological dynamic between the three men. Paul viewed the papacy as a means to consolidate his family’s position. He was socially ambitious, a careerist and not particularly pious. He kept a concubine, fathered four children out of wedlock and viewed the throne as an opportunity to fill his coffers while he placed his relatives in high positions. Paul appointed Ottavio as Duke of Camerino in 1538, and in the same year married him to Charles V’s daughter, Margaret, later Margaret of Parma. In 1547 Paul gave Pier Luigi the duchies of. Parma and Piacenza as papal fiefsies, a highly political move by the pope.
In doing so he gave wealth and wealth to a lord who was subservient and owed a debt, that would remain under papal control for the time being. By 1546, OttavIO was 22 years old, married to Margaret of Austria and an accomplished and distinguished individual. Paul believed Pier Luigi was responsible for the plot to assassinate his father-in-law, and so did so doing so in opposition to the pope’s desire to maintain the papalfiefs, and against the wishes of both Charles and Pier Luigi, whom he believed to be a personal friend. Paul became pope in 1534 when he was 66 years old and immediately appointed members of his family to key positions. He anointed his eldest grandson Alessandro, the eldest child of his illegitimate son Pier Luigi,. cardinal at the age of 14, marking a break with the family tradition of marrying off the first-born to carry on the family name. Alessandro became a cardinal deacon; this appointment compelled him to celibacy and to forgo the rights of primogeniture, which instead went to Ottavie. Paul’s advanced years meant that the family could ill afford to wait until the younger brother was of age. Paul was precisely the sort of man the Florentines needed to assist them in their defence against French and Spanish threats. The painting ranks as one of Titian’s finest and most penetrating works.