TIZIANO Vecellio
(b. 1490, Pieve di Cadore, d. 1576, Venezia)

Assumption of the Virgin

Oil on wood, 690 x 360 cm
Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Venice

Titian worked on this huge altarpiece for more than two years from 1516 to 1518. It has to be seen as a milestone in Titian's career establishing him as a more universal artist who drew inspiration from outside the confines of Venice. Indeed the powerful figures of the Apostles reflect the influence of Michelangelo, whereas the painting demonstrates clear iconographical similarities with the works of Raphael. Above all, what emerges most strongly in the assumption is Titian's desire to break definitely with the traditions of Venetian painting in order to arrive at a synthesis of dramatic force and dynamic tension which will become from this moment on the most obvious characteristic of his work.

The picture is composed of three orders. At the bottom are the Apostles (humanity), amazed and stunned by the wondreous happening. St Peter is kneeling with his hand on his breast, St Thomas is pointing at the Virgin, and St Andrew in a red cloak is stretching forward. In the middle, the madonna, slight and bathed in light, is surrounded by by a host of angels that accompany her joyfully hailing. Above is the Eternal Father, serene and noble majesty, calling the Virgin to him with a look of love.

The painting is signed as "Ticianus" low down in the middle of the picture.