The nose job of Empress Elisabeth

The Emperor Charles V expressly requested this from a portrait of the Empress that Tiziano painted in 1545

Emperor Charles V commissioned a portrait of Empress Elisabeth from Tiziano to keep with him at all times. However, the final result didn’t satisfy him, and three years later he asked her to retouch her nose.

She had a reputation as one of the most beautiful queens in Spanish history and died in her prime in Toledo in 1539 at the age of 36. A death that completely devastated Emperor Charles V, who was tempted to retire to monastic life – he did so temporarily, in the Monastery of Sisla, in Toledo – after his death, thus abandoning the power of his downfall.

He was so nostalgic for her that he decided to commission a portrait from one of the most famous painters in history and one who was linked to her figure: Tiziano Vecellio di Gregorio. However, there was a problem: the Italian never got to know the wife of Emperor Charles V. So?

As a model, he used a painting of the empress whose authorship is not known – or could be second rate, as some sources claim. A portrait that pleased the emperor because of its great physical resemblance, even if it did not suit the Italian painter’s taste.

Tiziano had the opportunity to present the portrait to the emperor in person in 1545, which he did. It reflected the intelligent character and personality of the empress. Except for one small detail: a slightly aquiline nose, not at all that possessed by Empress Elisabeth.

As a result, and as he had done with other paintings in which the emperor appeared, in which he had eliminated his prognathism, the emperor asked him to retouch the empress’s. This happened three years later, in 1548, in Augsburg, where Titian went to retouch it.

The painting can be seen today in the Prado Museum in Madrid.

An arrangement of the empress’s nose to satisfy her widowed husband 😊


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