The Assumption of the Virgin

Titian (Tiziano Vecellio, 1488/1490-1576)


Oil on wood

Santa Maria Gloriosas dei Frari


This image is a plate in Wittemeyer (link)

According to the Save Venice website, “The unveiling of this painting in 1518 on the high altar of the major Franciscan church in Venice was an important public event, confirming Titian’s position as the leading artist of the city. Extraordinarily innovative, the painting broke with tradition for its sheer size, bold use of color, heroic figure scale, and novel portrayal of the Virgin rising into heaven while the apostles watch in amazement from below. The picture is composed of two geometric shapes: the Virgin in a heavenly circle, and the amazed apostles in a rectangular block. Titian depicted the ascending Virgin, clad in luminous crimson, in an explosion of golden light. The bold red of her robe is echoed in the red worn by two of the apostles below, the colors unifying the two scenes. The divine Mary is bathed in gold, while the apostles below are set against a blue sky, further separating the earthly and heavenly spheres. God the Father waits above with an angel ready to crown Mary as Queen of Heaven. The split focus between the Virgin and the mortal apostles not only suggests the division between the living and the spiritual zones but also aligns with the church’s lancet windows, which are visible beyond the painting and function as a framing device.”

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