WE have seen how most of the great painters loved
to paint into their pictures those scenes which they
had known when they were boys, and which to the
end of their lives they remembered clearly and
vividly. A Giotto never forgets the look of his sheep
on the bare hillside of Vespignano, Fra Angelico
paints his heavenly pictures with the colours of
spring flowers found on the slopes of Fiesole, Perugino
delights in the wide spaciousness of the
Umbrian plains with the winding river and solitary
So when we come to the great Venetian painter
Titian we look first with interest to see in what
manner of a country he was born, and what were
the pictures which Nature mirrored in his mind
when he was still a boy.'
At the foot of the Alps, three days' journey from
Venice, lies the little town of Cadore on the Pieve,
and here it was that Titian was born. On every side
rise great masses of rugged mountains towering up
to the sky, with jagged peaks and curious fantastic
shapes. Clouds float around their summits, and the
mist will often wrap them in gloom and give them
a strange and awesome look. At the foot of the
craggy pass the mountain-torrent of the Pieve roars
 and tumbles on its way. Far-reaching forests of
trees, with weather-beaten gnarled old trunks, stand
firm against the mountain storms. Beneath their
wide-spreading boughs there is a gloom almost of
twilight, showing peeps here and there of deep
purple distances beyond.
Small wonder it was that Titian should love to
paint mountains, and that he should be the first to
paint a purely landscape picture. He lived those
strange solemn mountains and the wild country
round, the deep gloom of the woods and the purple
of the distance beyond.
The boy's father, Gregorio Vecelli, was one of the
nobles of Cadore, but the family was not rich, and
when Titian was ten years old he was sent to an
uncle in Venice to be taught some trade. He had
always been fond of painting, and it is said that
when he was a very little boy he was found trying
to paint a picture with the juices of flowers. His
uncle, seeing that the boy had some talent, placed
him in the studio of Giovanni Bellini.
But though Titian learned much from Bellini, it
was not until he first saw Giorgione's work that
he dreamed of what it was possible to do with
colour. Thenceforward he began to paint with that
marvellous richness of colouring which has made his
name famous all over the world.
At first young Titian worked with Giorgione, and
together they began to fresco the walls of the
Exchange above the Rialto bridge. But by and by
Giorgione grew jealous. Titian's work was praised
too highly; it was even thought to be the better of
 the two. So they parted company, for Giorgione
would work with him no more.
Venice soon began to awake to the fact that
in Titian she had another great painter who was
likely to bring fame and honour to the fair city.
He was invited to finish the frescoes in the Grand
Council-chamber which Bellini had begun, and to
paint the portraits of the Doges, her rulers.
These portraits which Titian painted were so
much admired that all the great princes and nobles
desired to have themselves painted by the Venetian
artist. The Emperor Charles V. himself when he
stopped at Bologna sent to Venice to fetch Titian,
and so delighted was he with his work that he made
the painter a knight with a pension of two hundred
Fame and wealth awaited Titian wherever he
went, and before long he was invited to Rome that
he might paint the portrait of the Pope. There
it was that he met Michelangelo, and that great
master looked with much interest at the work of the
Venetian artist and praised it highly, for the colouring
was such as he had never seen equalled before
'It is most beautiful,' he said afterwards to a
friend; 'but it is a pity that in Venice they do not
teach men how to draw as well as how to colour.
If this Titian drew as well as he painted, it would
be impossible to surpass him.'
But ordinary eyes can find little fault with
Titian's drawing, and his portraits are thought to be
the most wonderful that ever were painted. The
golden glow of Venice is cast like a magic spell
 over his pictures, and in him the great Venetian
school of colouring reaches its height.
Besides painting portraits, Titian painted many
other pictures which are among the world's masterpieces.
He must have had a special love for children,
this famous old Venetian painter. We can tell by
his pictures how well he understood them and how
he loved to paint them. He would learn much by
watching his own little daughter Lavinia as she
played about the old house in Venice. His wife
had died, and his eldest son was only a grief and
disappointment to his father, but the little daughter
was the light of his eyes.
We seem to catch a glimpse of her face in his
famous picture of the little Virgin going up the
steps to the temple. The little maid is all alone,
for she has left her companions behind, and the
crowd stands watching her from below, while the
high priest waits for her above. One hand is
stretched out, and with the other she lifts her dress
as she climbs up the marble steps. She looks a very
real child with her long plait of golden hair and
serious little face, and we cannot help thinking that
the painter's own little daughter must have been in
his mind when he painted the little Virgin.
THE LITTLE VIRGIN. BY TITIAN
Titian lived to be a very old man, almost a
hundred years old, and up to the last he was always
seen with the brush in his hand, painting some new
picture. So, when he passed away, he left behind
a rich store of beauty, which not only decked the
walls of his beloved Venice, but made the whole
world richer and more beautiful.