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Assumption Of The Virgin: Analysis Of Titian's Masterpiece

Updated: Dec 1, 2022


Assumption of The Virgin situated inside The Church of Maria de' Frari in Venice
Assumption of The Virgin in Maria de' Frari in Venice | Source: Matteo De Fina

The last few days were terrifically woeful to me due to irrefutable circumstances arising near me, and even after striving hard, I can't let my thoughts down. So finally, I found a way to come from these utterly non-sensual things by taking my mind somewhere else, maybe in the streets of Venice (as it is my favorite place in dreams). I always do this thing when my thoughts heavily influence me wrongly, like imagining myself in a better place. So this time, I did it by moving myself into the streets and museums of Venice (not a coffee shop this time, as I am physically decaffeinating). Moving around, I imagined myself in Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa Dei Frari, Venice. Carrying a hefty imagination through the help of old books in my library, I saw the epic masterpiece Assunta. It might seem to you that I am overstating the introduction, but you are familiar with my dramatic style. This time, however, I am even understating my statements as I experienced all the negative thoughts due to some specifically stupid actions I took. And trust me, the only thing that cured me was the virtual tours of art and museums. We, like me, would know absolutely what it entails afterward. What my mind encapsulated after discovering many artworks was the beauty of Titian's paintings. During the lifetime of Titian, his artwork fascinated numerous artists and collectors, and even today, people still find it impossible to resist his work. Taking this thing out, now hold me till the end of the article to know the complete evaluation of Assumption of the Virgin. Also, I think in a nerd's mind, not even the bottomless pot of knowledge is too deep. So let us begin!


Who Was Titian?


Born in Pieve di Cadore (at the foot of the Dolomites on the Venetian side of the Alps), his full name was Tiziano Vecellio. His father, Gregorio, was a military man and his older brother, Francesco, was a painter. Though there is no evidence of his exact birth date, from contemporary sources of his early artworks, it is impartially certain that he was born around the 1490s. At 10, he arrived in Venice and started training under the mosaicist Sebastiano Zuccato. Later, he moved on to Gentile Bellini's workshop, and after his death, he joined Giovanni Bellini's workshop. Therefore, his early works are styled after his workshop, which has a gorgionesque appearance and a pastoral feel. Furthermore, after the death of Giorgione in 1510 and Sebastiano's departure to Rome in 1511, Titian was the only one who could not be competed, which made him launch his independent career in Venice.


Self-Portrait Titian
Self-Portrait Titian | Source: Titian, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In the same year of Sebastiano's departure, Titian did his first exemplary work, frescos in Scuola del Santo in Padua, showcasing his matured style. The portraits he painted and the profoundly deepening subjects he explored truly astonished everybody. In the last few years of his life, Titian radically revised his technique and style of painting. Late in the 1560s and early 1570s, during Titian's final breathing days, he pushed himself to the brink of abstraction. Well, that's enough to know the artist (Well, there is definitely more, but I will reserve it for some other day). Now let's discuss the painting's background and history, which you've been anticipating for so long.



Background And History Of Assumption Of The Virgin.


The Assumption of the Virgin or Assunta was the first major commission of Titian for a church in Venice which brought great public attention. It took him two years to paint it for the high altar of Maria de' Frari in Venice. Hence, it becomes crucial for us to evaluate the grande artwork. Now let's take a quick look at the pages of history and pick it out in the briskest and most informative way possible.


Assumption of The Virgin painting by Titian
Assumption of The Virgin | Source: Basilica dei Frari

I mentioned earlier that Sebastiano's departure in 1511 was crucial to Titian's career, so Assunta has a connection with it. In the same period, Titian became a natural heir of Giorgione, creating pieces that resembled those Giorgione designed, including pastoral landscapes, poetic allegories, half-length figures, etc. In addition, in 1513, he wrote a petition to the Venetian government for which he offered to paint the Battle of Spoleto (projected scenes in Doge's place). Now, the government accepted the offer because the original painter, Perugino, would never come to execute it. In this way, Titian succeeded in claiming the title of Bellini's heir. And it is not strenuous to guess that the reason he was slow with his work and the painting completion year waited until 1538 was that he was very comprehensive in his success, declaring himself the heir of Bellini. Similarly, in 1515, there was an audacious offer where he was commissioned to paint The Assumption of The Virgin for the high Gothic church of Frari. Knowing the history behind the artwork, let us now focus on the principal portion of this section.


Painted in situ in the church, he had answered several questions about the size of the figures as the enormous figures were involved, and he kept saying that the distance made him mandatory to register the painting in such a way. During this period, several other artists followed to paint on canvas, whereas Titian still painted on the wood panel until the 1550s. This artwork, painted on a series of 21 wide cedar planks, became legendary and was the biggest among its peers.


Assumption of The Virgin or Assunta and the majestic frame for the artwork
Assunta and The majestic frame | Source: Matteo De Fina

After its completion, it was followed by an unveiling celebration on 19 May 1518, due to a public holiday, according to Marino Sanuto the Younger's diary. Over a century later, Ridolfi recorded that the ambassador of the emperor, Charles V, attended the unveiling ceremony and convinced the Franciscans to buy the painting, persuading them that it was worthwhile, though the ambassador was not in Venice at the time, so it does not seem to be true.


So much Back-Story! You don't have to worry about this section being over.


Now let me take you to the Assumption of The Virgin meaning through the next section.



Assumption Of The Virgin Meaning.


It is a perfect example of Titian's art, where he carries an eye to the Apostles around the tomb of the Virgin, first through the angle of cloud-lifting and higher to the heart of light around the brow of the Eternal. While you might think the painting has a complex meaning, it is actually easier to understand due to its simplicity.


The biblical art is divided into three sections by our Titian. The lowest region is for the terrestrial plane, where the disciples or apostles witness the assumption, the midsection includes the Virgin Mary glancing upwards to the divine, where she is lifting towards God with a swarm of angelic cherubim, and the highest section sees the divine waiting for her. It's the most famous Assumption in Renaissance art, if not all Western art, representing the moment Mary is assumed into Heaven.


Briefly, it represents the coronation of the Virgin Mary.


Assumption Of The Virgin Analysis.


Artist

Tiziano Vecellio or Tiziano Vecelli

Year Painted

c. 1518

Dimensions

690 cm × 360 cm

Medium

Oil on panel

Period

High Renaissance

Movement

Mannerism

Price

Priceless / Not on sale

Where is it housed?

Basilica S.Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Venice, Italy


It is composed of three different regions, each illustrating a different meaning. You already know about the overall artwork, but we are checking the subject matter and characters.


Assumption of The Virgin Analysis
Assumption of The Virgin | Source: Basilica dei Frari

The fantabulous effects by the artist on the canvas on each layer of the atmosphere encircles three different stages, which we have already learned in the meaning section. Briefly, we see a movement of the Virgin creating an impulse with choirs of angels forming clouds and the immense-celestial love of the father. The eager look of the father to welcome the ascending form is fantastically depicted by Titian. Each figure has a facial expression with different colours and skills to create a magical setting.


Now let me give you a deep glance regionwise.



The Lowest Region.


The lowest region of Titian's Assumption of The Virgin consists of apostles who are seen as gathered masses rather than as individuals. Different expressions emanate from each of them with a glance at the divine Virgin Mary. However, they seem to create tension in the surroundings to prevent the Virgin Mary from going to heaven, and instead bless them while living with them. Typically, there are ten figures with an extra shadow, summing up to eleven. Each figure represents a dramatic pose through their movement of hands and slender bodies. Looking at them, it seems that all of them subdue their respect and love towards the Virgin Mary. There is differentiating terrestrial atmosphere with the similar sky and ground we live in today, which senses the presence of earth.

Lower region of the Assumption of The Virgin Painting

The Mid-Region.


A dramatic cloud choir of little angels takes Virgin Mary towards the doors of the almighty. Here there are 25 figures, excluding Mary and the faded faces of the children. The arrival of the Virgin Mary extends towards the divine in joy for each of them. In a few of them, you will find angel wings and even musical instruments. Now the Virgin Mary, though, shines through the golden glitter of the background and glances at the divine father but has a sense of tense expression due to the physical difference from her child. The golden light, which lies between the clouds and the celestial realm, declares a dramatic conclusion to the composition.


Middle region of Titian's Assumption of The Virgin

The Top-Region.


On the fencing from the midsection till the upper end of the composition, there lie faded faces of children. It indicates the innocence ad love in the celestial realm. The father floats towards the sky, and the angel with him keenly waits to put the crown of heaven on the Virgin Mary.

Upper region of the Assumption of The Virgin by Titian

Now that you know the Assumption of The Virgin analysis, it is now time to move to our end of the article through a quick colour evaluation.



Colour Analysis Of The Painting


Assumption of the Virgin makes use of linseed and walnut oils to produce colour pigments. A variety of red colour shades, like in dresses of figures from a different section, is also seen. In addition, the golden glittery light highlights an impulse and catches the quick eye of the viewer. The artist used different human flesh colours on the bodies to create a difference in bodies, and there is the presence of muscles and toning in each one of the figures. The use of blue colour to form the sky of the lowest region demarcates itself with that of the Virgin Mary attire. The colour broadly discovers and exemplifies a crucial story through each figure.


Conclusion.


That's the end, Folks! I am so proud of you that you have been with me towards the end of this article. As nerds, we know that art has the power to change our emotions, so today, tell me what developed within you. Now, I would like to ask for your permission to leave with this beautiful message. I'd love to hear what you love about it in the comments.


Frequently Asked Questions.


Who painted the Assumption of The Virgin?

Italian painter Titian created Assumption of The Virgin between 1515 to 1518. The artwork depicts a bibliographic event of the coronation of the Virgin Mary. It is regarded as one of the most crucial Assumption paintings from the Renaissance that uses some of the largest figures painted at the time.


What is the meaning of the Assumption of The Virgin painting?

The biblical art is divided into three sections by our Titian. The lowest region is for the terrestrial plane, where the disciples or apostles witness the assumption, the midsection includes the Virgin Mary glancing upwards to the divine, where she is lifting towards God with a swarm of angelic cherubim, and the highest section sees the divine waiting for her. It's the most famous Assumption in Renaissance art, if not all Western art, representing the moment Mary is assumed into Heaven.


What style is Assumption of The Virgin by Titian?

Mannerism.


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