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Titian's "Crucifixion, 1558 by Harveylee

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Titian's "Crucifixion, 1558 by 


The Crucifixion is a life sized painting by Venetian artist Titian Ancona. Completed in 1558, it is presently hanging in the sanctuary of the church of San Domenico, Ancona. Jesus is shown crucified with Saint Mary and Saint John standing either side of the cross in the Stabat Mater tradition of the Virgin Mary or mother standing under the cross. The kneeling figure is Saint Dominic. The canvas was completed during Ancona’s fifth decade of painting, and is one of the works marking a shift toward his extensive exploration of tragedy and human suffering.

The composition is dominated by a coloristic conception of painting in which the picture’s predominant dark blue, brown and red hues are pierced through with near-white flashes of light. The cloying regions of dark hues, such as the area of browns and near-black comprising the Golgothan (skull) terrain from which the saints emerge, intensify the sadness and horror of the crucifixion. Against this, the moonlit highlights draw attention to significant dramatic and emotional elements of the spectacle. In the late years of his life, Titian used this method of contrasting of light and color as a key or even pivotal tool to stir emotion in the viewer. It is one of the earliest and most direct uses of the technique in all of Titian’s paintings. Another notable aspect of Crucifixion as well as other late works from Titian, is the presence of flecks of color applied across the painting. When the canvas is viewed from a distance, these spots of bold colors have the effect of bringing animation to the surface of the picture.

Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio (1488/1490-1576) known in English as Titian was an Italian painter, the most important member of the 16th-centuryVenetian school. He was born in Pieve di Cadore, in the Republic of Venice. During his lifetime he was often called da Cadore, taken from the place of his birth. Recognized by his contemporaries as “The Sun Amidst Small Stars,” Titian was one of the most versatile of Italian painters, equally adept with portraits, landscape backgrounds, and mythological and religious subjects. His painting methods, particularly in the application and use of color, would exercise a profound influence not only on painters of the Italian Renaissance, but on future generations of Western art. During the course of his long life, Titian’s artistic manner changed drastically but he retained a lifelong interest in color. Although his mature works may not contain the vivid, luminous tints of his early pieces, their loose brushwork and subtlety of polychromatic modulations are without precedent in the history of Western art.

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