Rannucio Farnese, oil on canvas, 1592. Titian, 1490-1576, Venetian. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.
You can feel the sheen on the wine-red silk doublet with the tips of your fingers: the variable reds of wine when its glass is held up to the light.
The doublet seems to have been embellished with slits, sewn down and with and applique of bands of vertical wine-red silk, also sewn down. Its buttons are made in the way they are still in India.
The cross of Malta (the Knights Templar) on the left of the coat: the side of the heart. There is additional embroidery at the top of the coat sleeve, which itself is lined with black silk.
Recently, the French and Italian governments co-operated in the temporary restoral of the interior furnishings of the Farnese Palace in Rome, currently the French Embassy. These had been dispersed here and there and many in Paris during the long decline of the family’s fortunes.
Rannucio Farnese would have lived in this building.
There were reports that French curators began to weep when they finished their work, so staggeringly beautiful was the result and so satisfying the restoral of ‘ordinary’ things to the place made for them in the world.
Which speaks to the ambiguities of presenting objects and paintings and furnishings in museums – out of context. Some or much meaning and beauty are lost and cannot be restored with wall plaques.
But this post could go on and on …..
It is really about the skill of Titian in presenting the seen and unseen world.