Venice – Home for The Man with the Blue Sleeve

Many thanks to all those who sent me their reactions to the painting of The Man With The Blue Sleeve. It was fascinating. Here is a summing up of your responses:

  • cocky, flirtatious, silky to the touch
  • good looking, a bit flirty but in a nice way, on closer inspection disgusted, contemptuous or perhaps hurt, vane, his eyes are different colours
  • fanciable, slightly naughty
  • cheeky looking, looks like he is up to no good
  • supercilious, far too good looking for his own good
  • full of revelations which are as yet hidden but not to me (I’m not sure about that but thanks for the thought!)
  • one of you had a poster of him hanging on your wall when you were a student which shows a level of good taste and sophistication sadly lacking in myself at that age
  • one of you had a mother who had a poster of him hanging in the dining room and apparently he frightened people because they said his eyes followed them around the room and since he was a dead person he must have been a ghost!

So my man has got about a bit. The man is certainly a member of the patrician class in Venice because that sleeve is probably breaking all the sumptuary laws going but he has the money to pay the fine. Titian was only about twenty when he painted him, so he would have been looking for rich patrons to support him and maybe that explains the rather contemptuous look on the man’s face. The Man with the Blue Sleeve at this point in the painter’s life is the one with the power, with the patronage. I think he looks like he’s had a night on the tiles. That eye is very pitted. Interestingly his eyebrows look as if they’ve been plucked. Later on in his career of course it was Titian who had the power and he had princes, popes, doges, kings and emperors queuing up to be painted by him.

It is fascinating and almost impossible, in a time when any one of us can pick up a phone and create an image of ourselves, to think of the power that a portrait had in the 16th century. You had to go to a lot more trouble and have a great deal more money to produce an image of yourself.

What happens in my book is that an actor who is undergoing an emotional crisis goes to visit the portrait and then a conversation ensues …

But you don’t think I’m going to tell you what he says, do you? I’m afraid you’re going to have to wait until January 26th to find out. All I can say is that when The Man with the Blue Sleeve speaks, it will be absolutely … No, I’m not even going to tell you that. But thank you all for taking part!

Do you have a favourite painting? One that you absolutely love. Tell me why.

Photo: courtesy of Letitia Blake 2016

11 thoughts on “THE MAN WITH THE BLUE SLEEVE #2

  1. I love the portrait of the Duke of Wellington by Goya (see it here: I think Wellington looks both haunted and overwhelmed, and frankly exhausted – all of which would have been true. I like the fact that Goya updated the portrait to add medals as they were awarded, and the way that Wellington does not fill the frame. He looks like a professional soldier very uncomfortable (and a little impatient) with the celeb status that demanded a portrait. And of course I fancy him: I’ve always gone for lean, dark men with strong noses.

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  2. I somehow missed Man with the blue sleeve #1, but I agree with many of the impressions of his character above! I hadn’t come across him before, so it was intriguing to read about the way he prompted your latest novel. As for paintings, not sure I could narrow it down, but I have just bought a print of Georgia O’Keeffe’s ‘rust red hills’ which I find a wonderful painting – very visceral and ‘alive’ – in fact my partner described it as like intestines!


  3. It’s fascinating isn’t it all the different impressions one single work of art can make. I think you are absolutely right, it would have made an enormous impression at the time.

    My favourite Renaissance painting is ‘Lamentation over the Dead Christ’ by Mantegna, c 1480. Lamentations in Renaissance art can be very moving, but this one has such simplicity in its composition combined with a fantastic foreshortened figure of Christ and the trademark Mantegna sculptural effect. It moves me at a fundamental level.

    So excited to go and buy a copy of ‘Titian’s Boatman’ on January 26th and have it in my hot little hands.

    Hats off to Letitia for such a fab photo!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ooh, you tease!…Maybe it’s a boy thing but I used to love going to the old Tate (Tate Britain, now) and standing in front of John Martin’s apocalyptic paintings, all that fire and brimstone. Nothing like a bit of drama. So looking forward to reading your novel!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Colin. Make ’em wait is my philosophy! As a Scorpio I very much like fire and brimstone and indeed the apocalypse. It’s all those tiny and sometimes not so tiny torments.It’s my every day state of mind!

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