Titian: Assumption of the Virgin

Tiziano Vecelli (1490-1576), better known as Titian, was an important Venetian painter during the Renaissance. He truly understood the application of color and light in his works (for the blog post about his method of painting, click here). He is renowned for his extraordinary ability to depict color using light. One of his paintings which epitomize this is Assumption of the Virgin, which was commissioned by the Franciscan basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice.

Titian, Assumption of the Virgin, 1516-1518

In this painting, he depicts Virgin Mary’s ascent to heaven. She rises to heaven on a lofty cloud, held up by putti (“cupids”). Virgin Mary looks up at God, who waits for her and welcomes her with open arms. The clouds of heaven are golden and seems to radiate light, which is so well-captured by Titian’s use of gold, orange, and red. Because this painting served as an altarpiece, the golden clouds also seem to glow and shine light into the church. Below, the apostles react wildly as they witness this extraordinary event. Overall, I think that Titian effectively depicted the ascent of the Virgin as a dramatic and momentous event.

Using color and light, Titian captured very well the glory of this important event. I think his depiction of the event seems to radiate an aura of grandeur, which is especially evident in the majestic gold of heaven’s clouds and the big, energetic gestures of Virgin Mary, God, and the apostles below. No wonder Titian is very recognized for his ability to convey light through color.

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