In Padua, in 1511, Titian
executed frescoes of three Miracles of St Anthony for the
Scuola del Santo. These narratives demonstrate his power to imbue
his ample figures with a convincing sense of anguished, impulsive
life, as he set realistically conceived events within vividly and
rather impressionistically realized landscapes.
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In another painting for this church, the Madonna of the House of Pesaro (1519-1526), Titian effected a crucial change in Renaissance sacre conversazioni (paintings of the Virgin enthroned among saints) by placing the Virgin, traditionally at the composition's centre, halfway up its right side, and by painting behind her in diagonal recession two giant columns that soar out of the picture's space.
This new scheme was widely adopted by later artists, such as Paolo Veronese and the Carracci family, and, with its evocation of movement and infinity, it opened the way to the Baroque style. The most dynamic of all Titian's paintings of this period was the huge Death of St Peter Martyr (1530, now destroyed), in which the violent action was echoed in the convulsion of trees and sky.
In later paintings Titian used this dematerializing style to convey a state of being that transcends the physical. This late style, an astounding phenomenon in the context of Renaissance art, had its final manifestation in the Pietà intended for Titian's own tomb chapel; the work was left unfinished at his death and is now in the Accademia in Venice.
Titian died in Venice on August 27, 1576. His work, which permanently affected the course of European painting, provided an alternative, of equal power and attractiveness, to the linear and sculptural Florentine tradition followed by Michelangelo and Raphael; this alternative, eagerly taken up by Peter Paul Rubens, Diego Velázquez, Rembrandt, Eugène Delacroix, and the Impressionists, is still vital today. In its own right, moreover, Titian's work often attains the apogee of achievement in the visual arts. (After Microsoft Encarta 1996).
Background: The Death of Actaeon. National Gallery, London.