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Renaissance Top 48: Madonna of the Pesaro Family

Identification

Titian, Madonna of the Pesaro Family, Santa Maria dei Frari, Venice, Italy, 1519 - 1526. Oil on canvas, approx. 16' x 9'

Context

  • Titian was trained by both Bellini and Giorgione as a painter
  • He completed several of their unfinished workings
  • When Bellini passed away, the republic of Venice appointed Titian as its official painter
  • Bishop Pesaro told Titian to paint Madonna of the Pesaro 
  • It was later presented to the church of the Frari 

Content

  • Stately sunlit setting 
  • Madonna is receiving the commander, who is kneeling at the foot of her throne as if his duty 
  • A soldier (Saint George) behind the commander is carrying a banner with the escutcheons (shields with coats of arms) of the Borgia (Pope Alexander IV) and Pesaro 
  • Behind the soldier is a Turk wearing a Turban-like headdress. He was a prisoner of war of the Christian forces 
  • On the other side is Saint Francis, who's introducing other members of the Pesaro family who are all male. They are kneeing solemnly 
  • Figures are placed on a steep diagonal position to focus the Madonna off the central axis
  • Entwining of the human scene with the heavenly 
    • Heavenly cloud bearing angels between a queen and her court and servants 

Image

Form

  • Oil on canvas 
  • Variety of colors 
  • Titian draws the viewer's attention to the Madonna through
    • Perspective of lines
    • Inclination of the figures 
    • Directional lines of gaze and gesture 
    • Equilibrium - the banner is inclining toward the left 

 

Function

  • Furthered Titian's reputation and established his personal style 
  • Was an act of gratitude towards a successful expedition 
    • Pesaro had led a successful expedition in 1502 against the Turks during the Venetian-Turkish War