What are the Most Important Things to Know?


1. Painted by one of the Greatest Venetian Artists

Tiziono Vecello (Titian): 1488-1576

2. In the 1500's Titian painted this painting to hang in this very spot

Notice how he used the choir screen opening to frame his painting as you enter the church.

3. This painting was considered very innovative for it's time

Titian broke with tradition in the 15th century from the way The VM’s Assumption was typically portrayed.

  1. It’s sheer size
  2. Bold use of color
  3. Use of expression
  4. Use of movement

In the hotspots below, there are lot’s of photo’s of Assumption paintings by different artists in order to compare the plain style used pre-Titian.

4. See Titian's Monument and his other Painting (1 & 5 on map)





The unveiling of this painting was in 1518. It was commissioned for the high altar of this church. It was an important public event that confirmed Titian’s position as the leading artist of the city.

It was almost rejected because of the many innovations for it's time.

The image above is a typical Assumption painting prior to Titian's innovations. It is similiar to Titian's in content and use of the 3 levels, but lacks bold movement and expression. It is also about 1/10 the size.



The Assumption of The VM into heaven was a popular theme during the Renaissance. It was typically painted the same way.

1. The bottom level (or the earthly level): depicts the apostles very sombre over a bed or a tomb

2. seperation of light

3. Middle level: depicts a very dignified and somber VM making her way to heaven

4. separation of light

5. Upper level: Deptics God waiting/accepting The VM into heaven.

sometimes the middle and upper levels were combined.



Pre-Titian, the apostles were typically somber and watched The VM ascend into heaven from her sarcophagus or they gathered around her body on a bed or coffin.

Titian's Innovation brings movement and emotion. It looks like a busy scene of confusion and the apostles are looking both amazed and astonished.

The image above shows how the Apostles were typically composed in an Assumption painting. (It is only the bottom level part of the painting).



The middle scene of an Assumption painting typically depicts The VM making her way up into heaven. She is usually shown solemn, sedate and tranquil.

Innovations by Titian: The VM expresses an emotion of wonder, her hair is uncovered and her foot is exposed, both risque for the time.

Above is an image of pre-Titian Assumption scene.



The upper part of a typical renaissance Assumption painting depicts a welcoming God waiting in heaven. God is usually portrayed stern and fixed in space.

Titian has made his face more human and he appears to be moving or swooping in the sky.

Above is a typical Assumption scene pre-Titian to compare.



Innovation: In Pre-Titian Assumption paintings Mary was usually portrayed laying on a tomb or bed or arising from it. In this painting the tomb is all but hidden. All you can see is a fragment of the headstone from the tomb hidden amongst the apostles.

Compare The tomb to a typical Assumption painting prior to Titian's influence.



Innovation by Titian: Apostles are reaching, pointing and showing emotion. Normally they were painted more demure and passive.

One of many things found to be improper with the painting was the Apostles' size in relationship to the Virgin, almost the same. Also the poor "decorum" of the apostles (maybe exposed knees, legs and feet, style of clothing??)

Titian explained that he had used the crude seamen of Chioggia (a city near Venice) as models, pointing out that many of the first followers of Jesus were in fact fishermen!

Above is the bottom level of a typical 16th century Assumption painting to compare.



According to legend, when The VM's life was coming to an end, she fell into a deep sleep. Miraculously, all the apostles were brought back from their scattered missionary activities to be present at her end. Upon her death, her body was able to go straight to heaven because her soul hadn't been tainted by original sin.

What is the churches position on the Assumption?
Pope Pius XII solemnly defined in 1950 that “the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever-Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.” It doesn't specify whether Mary physically died before being assumed or just was assumed. it simply states, “Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life….”




The VM is surrounded by a large number of escorting, joyful and playing cherubs. Most of the cherubs are toddlers, but there are a group of teenage angels to the right of the VM. According to religious tradition of the time, angels should be gender neutral, and neither look like boys or girls. But here some cherubs clearly look like small boys.



One of the angels holds a green crown, the symbol of earthly death, while the other bears the golden crown of heaven.



Notice the united color scheme with greens and red between levels. God has a partly red robe. The angel in the foreground has a green garment. The choice of colours creates a strong connection between the three scenes.



The choir at the center of the nave, with its elegant marble screen is punctuated with a central archway. Titian transformed the archway into a frame for his painting on the high altar, so when you walk into the church towards the altar the archway makes a natural frame.


Titian Signature on the Tomb

Content Here

Tell me about the artist

Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio, was born in the little village Pieve di Cadore, near Belluno. He was the son of Gregorio Vecelli and his wife Lucia. Titian died in a plague epidemic in Venice in August 1576. 

Titian and his older brother Francesco Vecellio (1475–1560) were sent to an uncle in Venice to find apprenticeships with a painter. The boys entered the studio of the elderly Gentile Bellini (1429–1507). They later transferred to the studio of his brother Giovanni Bellini (1430–1516). Titians older brother later became a painter in Venice. In 1508, Titian worked on commissions together with his friend Giorgione (c 1477–1510).

The large painting The Assumption of the Virgin was the first significant commission for Titian during his career in Venice. Titian broke with the traditions of Venetian painting. 

Titian also painted the Pesaro Madonna, or the Madonna di Ca’ Pesaro, during the period 1519 to 1528 for the same church. This painting has a slightly smaller format (478 x 260 cm). Titian was soon perceived as the most prominent of all the Renaissance painters in Venice. He became the painter of fashion among the wealthy people.

In 1533, Titian was commissioned to paint a portrait of Emperor Charles V (1500–1558). He was Emperor in Germany and also King of the United Spanish kingdoms. The Emperor was very pleased with the painting and he made Titian a Count Palatine and knight of the Golden Spur. His children were also made nobles of the Empire. For a painter this was an exceptional honour.Titian came to know Charles V personally, and had painted other portraits of him by this time. A highly intelligent man, Titian was quick witted, humorous and easy company. He had developed such a strong friendship with Charles by the time of this portrait that the emperor’s courtiers were uneasy at the extent that a lowly painter was allowed into his confidence.[6] While in Augsburg, Titian was given an apartment close to Charles’ own, and allowed easy access and frequent meetings with the emperor.

In 1543, Titian was commissioned to paint a portrait of Pope Paul III (1468–1549). During the 1550s, Titian also made a portrait of King Philip II of Spain (1527–1598), a son of Karl V.

Titian was a versatile painter. He made landscape backgrounds, mythologi- cal subjects, portraits, and religious subjects. Titian’s artistic manner changed drastically during the course of his long life.

Who Commisioned it?

Interesting Facts

can see paintings where they hung in their original locations where artist painted them for

Famous people associated with Painting