Titian Paints his Portrait of the Vendramin Family

The Portrait of the Vendramin Family is a painting by the Italian Renaissance master Titian, executed around 1543-1547.

It is in the National Gallery in London.

The canvas was commissioned by the noble Vendramin family, and portrays the brothers Andrea and Gabriele Vendramin, and Andrea's seven sons. However Andrea was apparently only three years older than Gabriele, which one would not think from the two figures here. It remains uncertain which is which. The three young boys on the left were added later by another artist.

The figures are next an altar with a reliquary of the Holy Cross. The reliquary of the True Cross shown in the Titian, which still exists, was connected with a miracle in 1370-82 depicted by Vittorio Carpaccio, Gentile Bellini and other artists - when accidentally dropped into a canal during a congested procession it did not sink but hovered over the water, evading others trying to help, until an earlier Andrea Vendramin dived in and retrieved it.

This Andrea had been presented with the relic in 1369, in his capacity as head of the confraternity or Scuola of San Giovanni Evangelista. Both the large Bellini painting, The Miracle of the True Cross near San Lorenzo Bridge, of 1496-1500, and the Carpaccio of 1494, are now in the Accademia museum.

The painting remained in Venice until at least 1636, until it was bought by Anthony van Dyck in the late 1630s. After his death it was bought by the Earl of Northumberland and passed by descent through the Earls and Dukes of Northumbberland and Somerset until 1929, when it was bought by the National Gallery. At some point it has been cut down on both sides and at the bottom.