Legends say that Titian lived to be ninety-nine, but that is uncertain. No one knows his real birthday. Even though his birthday was an enigma, his talent was not. It was no secret that Titian, the Venetian master of color, was one of the most gifted artists of the Renaissance.
Tiziano Vecellio was born in a small village in the Italian Alps probably between 1488 and 1490, but perhaps as early as 1477. Somewhere along the line he became known as Titian, but when and where is another mystery. His family sent him to Venice, the city of canals, when he was nine or ten years old to become an apprentice. An apprentice worked for many years under the guidance of a master artist to learn his craft.
Titian was first apprenticed to a mosaic artist named Sebastian Zuccato, but later he worked under Gentile Bellini. Gentile Bellini taught the boy the basics of painting. Soon, Titian's talent became obvious; he could draw anything quickly and beautifully. He later worked with Gentile's brother, Giovanni, who was known as the greatest artist in Venice. He later worked with another brilliant artist named Giorgione. In 1508, Titian helped Giorgione paint frescoes on the walls of a warehouse that belonged to German merchants.
Giorgione became upset when everyone raved about Titian's work. After Giorgione died of the plague in 1510, Titian finished some of his paintings, and it was almost impossible to tell their work apart.
Titian opened his own workshop in 1513, which was the Renaissance equivalent of starting his own business. Titian received his first large commission when he painted The Assumption of the Virgin for the high altar of the Church of the Frari in Venice. It took him two years and was completed in 1518. In this painting, a brightly-robed Virgin is lifted up to heaven by angels while the watching apostles reach up in awe.