The elderly Pope Paul III is seated in the center of the composition, turning slightly to his left, as his grandson Ottavio enters the scene. Ottavio and Paul III glance at one another hesitantly. The Pope’s other grandson, Cardinal Alessandro, stands behind a table to our left as he peers directly at the viewer. The lush tones of red employed by Titian intensify the atmosphere.

Titian executed this portrait during his Roman sojourn between 1545-46, upon the invitation of the Farnese. The painting was left unfinished upon Titian’s return to Venice in 1546. Scholars suggest that the scene illustrates the strained relationships within the Farnese family, given the political turmoil of the time. Titian captures the subtle indications of the Pope’s fragility and decline, as well as the complex psychological dynamic between the three men.


  • Title: Portrait of Pope Paul III with His Grandsons
  • Creator: Titian
  • Date Created: 1545
  • Medium: oil on canvas

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