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The Pietà by Titian at the Gallerie dell'Accademia

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The Pietà by Titian at the Gallerie dell'Accademia

Tiziano Vecellio is considered the greatest painter in the history of Venetian art, known and appreciated all around the world... Just imagine that he was internationally famous already at his time!

His last painting, now kept at the Gallerie dell'Accademia in Venice, is little known, but of great fascination.

The painting was designed as an ornament for the Chapel of Christ in the Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, where Titian had obtained permission to be buried; at his death, however, the painting was still in his house and was passed to one of his pupils, Palma il Giovane, who modified it by finishing off the central niche and adding the cupid with the torch in the upper right corner, as well as the central inscription at the bottom, in Latin, in which he declared he had completed the work.

In 1631 the canvas was transferred to the Church of Sant'Angelo, now destroyed, and finally to the Accademia in 1814.

The work is prefigured as a great ex-voto aimed at preventing the spread of the plague of that year.

At the center the Madonna holds the Christ, semi-reclining and supported also by Nicodemus, which is probably a self-portrait of Titian; on their left, standing, is Magdalene, at the top of an ideal triangle.

On the sides of the niche there are two statues, representing Moses and the Sibyl Ellespontica, resting on sculpted pillars, with a lion figure nearby recalling St Mark’s.

On the lower right there is a votive tablet, with Titian and his son Horace intent on asking for divine intervention to save them from the epidemic: a theme taken from the imploring arm, lying at the foot of the Sibyl, which expresses the anguish of the artist for the disease.

The creation of this ex-voto wasn’t enough: shortly thereafter, his son Horace, then Titian himself were killed by the plague...

Visit the Gallerie dell'Accademia in Venice on your own or accompanied by a brilliant tour guide from Venice! On our portal you can book a fascinating private tour, which can be customized according to your needs - Your Own Venice!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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