distance. The woman suckles a baby without looking at the young man. Many interpretations have
surfaced, but no one has solved the puzzle that this small work presents, and it is possible that no fixed
meaning was intended. Like the words of a poem, the details of the painting suggest meanings that must
be completed by the viewer.
Giorgione, The Tempest, c. 1505
Titian (born Tiziano Vecellio) is the most important of the many great Venetian painters. A productive artist
throughout his long life (he was probably about ninety when he died), his style underwent many changes.
In the first three decades of the sixteenth century (which correspond to the High Renaissance in central
Italy), Titian’s work was clear and vigorous, and figures were full-bodied—strong men and sturdy, yet
voluptuous, women. Titian preferred rich, deep colors: dark red, gold, and forest green. Paintings like the
Pesaro Madonna demonstrate what might be called Titian’s High Renaissance style (the divisions used for
Florentine and Roman art do not always fit Venetian painting well). The Pesaro Madonna is a large
altarpiece that shows Titian’s luxurious style applied to a religious painting. The patrons’ portraits form a
staid base to the dynamic composition, which culminates in the Virgin who is tenderly looking downward
toward Jacopo Pesaro, one of the patrons. At midlevel, St. Peter and St. Francis complete the composition,
a skewed and elongated variation on the pyramidal composition. The saints’ gestures are dramatic, but not
strained or artificial.
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