Titian (Tiziano Vecellio)
 Again with Titian, another Venetian colorist painter of the 16th century, we see the sensuousness of Giorgione, who died rather early, leaving the tradition to Titian, who would dominate Venetian painting for the next 50 years. Above, is Titian's Venus of Urbino (c. 1538), painted for the Duke of Urbino, a personal friend. There are a couple of extremely important thing going on here: First, we see Venus........but not at all the same Venus we saw in Botticelli's painting. This Venus is way sensuous as she reclines on the soft pillows and the rich fabric. She is the same Venus as we saw in ancient times.......even the same Venus we saw 25,000 years ago in Willendorf. She is a symbol of the voluptuousness of mother nature and all the worldly pleasures available to mankind. So now, near the middle of the 16th century, we have some competition for the saints, martyrs and madonnas (although Titian could paint madonnas as sensuously as the Venus above, only fully clothed, of course). The second important thing going on here (although it's impossible to tell from a computer screen) is that Titian sets into practice the use of oil on canvas as the preferred painting medium, rather than panel or fresco painting. The light and color possibilities are greatly enhanced with this new medium, very much to the Venetians' liking.
 Below, we see again the "sacra conversazione," only with a new Titian twist...... the use of strong, diagonal composition rather than the usual triangular. In this painting, The Pesaro Madonna (c. 1526), Titian uses a side view, rather than a frontal view as in Bellini's Madonna with Saints. The effect here is dramatic: The two giant columns give a strong vertical thrust upward, representing the gates of heaven, as blue sky takes over the background. The powerful vertical starting at the Turk's turban, upward to the Madonna is balanced with a flag pointing in the opposite direction. While this is a happy scene, commissioned by the Pesaro family to commemorate a naval victory against the Turks, the two cherubs holding a cross at the top of the painting remind us of the sacrifice that Christ made, which adds a more somber note.

 Boy, talk about a pagan painting........Titian's Bacchanal (c. 1518) is likely to raise the blood pressure of any good parent of teens these days. The scene is reflective of Giorgione's Pastoral Symphony, but the figures (oh, those figures!) are in high movement and activity, much like a Michelangelo. The painting either invites us to return to the lost delights of the Classical era, or celebrates the awakening of the human spirit of the Renaissance. Actually, it probably reflects both.

 What a different painting from the one above, This portrait, Man with the Glove (c. 1520), is one of Titian's many portraits. And it is important to see the growth of portrait painting during the middle of the 16th century as reflective of the growth of humanism in general: In portraits, the individual is the focus, not an allegory, a madonna, Christ or God. Attention is now being paid to the individual, humanistic qualities of people.

This portrait is richly painted with extremely subtle outlines......a precursor to the kind of works we will see from Rembrandt a few years from now.

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