- Museum number
The Adoration of the Trinity ('La Gloria'); above in the heavenly clouds, the Holy Spirit flanked by God and Jesus seated and holding spheres; they are encircled by a cast of biblical figures including among others, Moses, Ezekiel, Joseph (holding up a model of the ark) and David with a zither; among the figures at right are Charles V and Empress Isabella draped in white, Philip II and Titian's self-portrait, after Titian. 1566
- Production date
Height: 530 millimetres
Width: 380 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Text from Michael Bury, 'The Print in Italy 1550-1620', BM 2001 cat.55)
This engraving was one of the six that Cort produced for Titian in the years 1565-66. Titian had painted a picture of this subject (now in the Prado), and sent it to the Emperor Charles V in 1554. Vasari, who had visited Venice in 1566, mentioned the painting in his 1568 life of Titian and noted that its publication as a print was imminent: 'As it is an outstanding work it is expected that it may shortly come out in printed form' (Vasari, ed. Milanesi, VII, p.451). Titian was granted a licence for it on 22 January 1567 and a privilege on 4 February of the same year (Rosand and Muraro, 1976, p.26, no.48).
The print is in the same direction as the painting, though there are numerous small differences (for a detailed comparison, see Gould, 1975, pp.301-302). There has been dispute about whether these differences resulted from Cort's use of a preparatory drawing for the painting (so Wethey, 1969, p.166), or from his having been given a new drawing prepared by Titian for the purpose (so Stix, 1913-14, pp.340-341). The probability points to a special drawing having been made for the engraver. The figure in a fur-lined cloak, halfway up on the right in the engraving is a self-portrait of Titian, as noted by Lampsonius in his letter of 13 March 1567; Gould thought that the equivalent figure in the painting also represented Titian, but this seems doubtful, for in the painting there is nothing to mark him as a contemporary figure, let alone a portrait. Such a self-portrait would be a more suitable element to include in an engraving, than in a devotional painting for the Emperor.
What is implied by these changes is that Titian did not regard the print as simply a reproduction of the painting. It is probably significant that in his application for a privilege he wrote: 'having in the past days newly had put on a copperplate a drawing of Paradise and various other pieces with different inventions, for the general use of those who study painting, at considerable labour and expense of mine…' (Rosand and Muraro, 1976, p.26, n.48). So it was a 'disegno del paradiso' that Cort engraved; and in the letter to Margaret of Parma, Titian again wrote that it was 'il disegno della pittura della Trinità' that he had had engraved (Tiziano, 1977, p.245). The implication is that he saw what Cort produced as an engraved drawing derived from the painting.
Titian seems to have had two identifiable motives in having this and the other compositions engraved. Firstly there was a straightforward commercial purpose. In 1567 we know from Lampsonius of a Bolognese who had made an agreement with Titian to be sole agent for their sale; he was expected to come to Antwerp later that same year, bringing some impressions with him (Tiziano, 1977, p.240). Secondly they were useful to him as gifts to patrons, potential patrons and admirers. He is known, for example, to have sent impressions of the Adoration of the Trinity to various people in the course of the year 1567, including Philip II, Margaret of Parma, Dominique Lampsonius and Alessandro Farnese (Tiziano, 1977, pp.239-41 and 245; Olivato Puppi, 1979, pp.50-52).
Lampsonius, secretary to the Prince Bishop of Liège, and a great admirer of Cort, wrote to Titian on 13 March 1567, enthusing about Cort's engravings after his work (Tiziano, 1977, pp.239-41). What was conveyed to his admiring gaze by the incomparable vitality and grace of Cort's hand was the 'invention and design' of Titian.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2001/2 Sep-Jan, BM, P&D, The Print in Italy 1550-1620
2002 Feb-Mar, New York, Miriam & Ira D Wallach AG, The Print in Italy
2002/3 Sep-Jan, Ottawa, NG of Canada, The Print in Italy 1550-1620
2003 Feb-Apr, Edinburgh, NG of Scotland, The Print in Italy 1550-1620
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number