Pope Paul III and His Grandsons is an oil on canvas painting 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. It depicts the thorny relationship between Pope Paul III, born Alessandro Farnese, and two of his grandsons, Ottavio and Alessandro. The painting explores the effects of ageing and the manoeuvring behind succession; Paul was at the time in his late seventies and operating within an uncertain political climate as Charles V came into ascendancy. Paul was not a religious man; he viewed the papacy as a means to consolidate his family's position. He appointed Alessandro as cardinal against accusations of nepotism, fathered a number of illegitimate children and spent large sums of church money collecting art. Titian abandoned the commission before completion, and for the next 100 years the painting languished unframed in a Farnese cellar. It ranks as one of Titian's most penetrating works. The panel contains subtle indications of the contradictions in the character of the Pope, and captures the complex psychological dynamic between the three men. (Full article...)

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