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St. Mark Enthroned
St. Mark Enthroned (detail)
Tiziano Vecellio, otherwise known as Titian, was born toward the close of the fifteenth century in Cadore, Italy. When he was nine, his father sent him to Venice to be apprenticed by Sebastiano Zuccato, a mosaicist and painter. However, Titian felt that he was not learning enough about painting techniques, so around 1505 he went to work in the studio of Gentile Bellini. At the time, Bellini was in his late seventies and was the most well-known painter in Venice. Titian often found Bellini's work boring and tedious, and was attracted to the freer and less academic style of the other Bellini, Giovanni (Gentile's brother).

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In the spring of 1508, Emperor Maximilian of Austria invaded Italy and took the fortress of Cadore. These were bad times for Venetian artists, so Titian went to paint frescoes in a church in Padua. After the artist Giorgione's death, Titian was commissioned to complete a few of his paintings. He gladly did so, and was soon asked by monks to paint an altarpiece of the saint who had saved Venice from the plague. The result of this was Saint Mark Enthroned, which caused Titian's friends to advise him to petition the city council for a painting commission. This resulted in a commission for a large battle scene to be painted in the council hall, a task which would not be completed for twenty-two years, but finally ended with the Battle of Cadore.

Titian also painted an altarpiece for the Frarl church. Father German, guardian of the church, thought that the Assumption of the Virgin was too dramatic, but decided to let the people judge for themselves. Titian's efforts were rewarded when thousands of people came to view the painting. This added both to the artist's fame and to the glory of the church. He also painted many portraits, receiving commissions from Emperor Charles V and his son, Philip II of Spain.

Titian died on August 27, 1576 from the plague. He left behind many unfinished paintings, including a Pieta and the Votive Picture of Doge Grimani. One of his greatest works was The Martyrdom of St. Lawrence, which was said to exceed the artistry of Michelangelo. Titian's body was buried in the Frarl church as an honor for one of the most famous painters in Venice.


Cecchi, Dario. Titian. Great Britain: Ditchling Press, 1958.

Hagen, Rose-Marie and Rainer. What Great Paintings Say - Old Masters in Detail Volume II.

Ripley, Elizabeth. Titian. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1962.

Williams, Jay, et al. The World of Titian. New York: Time-Life Books, 1968.

Edited by:Sarah Yousuf, Von Stueben High School, Chicago, IL
Researched by:Laurel Kaish, Von Stueben High School, Chicago, IL
Written by: Urrooj Rehman, Von Stueben High School, Chicago, IL

15 May 98

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