In the spring of 1993, the most discussed, most not-to-be-missed exhibition in Paris was an extravaganza at the Grand Palais, “The Century of Titian: The Golden Age of Painting in Venice.” It was a glorious assembly of pictures not only by Titian, but by his predecessors, contemporaries, colleagues, and followers—Giovanni Bellini, Giorgione, Sebastiano del Piombo, Veronese, Bassano, and Tintoretto, among others. Despite its ambitious title, its stellar array of artists, and its astonishing number of visitors, the show was neither a wide-ranging survey of High Renaissance art in La Serenissima nor a crowd-pleasing blockbuster, but rather a tightly focused, scholarly examination of a particular aspect of sixteenth-century Venetian painting during the years, roughly, in which Titian was at work. What was that aspect? How Venetian painters responded to the maniera moderna, the “modern style” that was proposed...

 
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