‘The Miracles of St. Anthony of Padua’ by Titian (1510)
Tiziano Vecelli (anglicized as Titian) is one of the greatest painters of the Venetian school of High Renaissance art. Born in the Republic of Venice in 1488-90, his vivid application of colour had a profound influence on the artistic world. His imaginative temperament earned him the title of a poet-painter. The fluidity in his painting, the increasing freedom of brushstroke and his deft ability to grasp personality can be well noted in today’s series.
The subject of the painting is the dearly loved St. Anthony of Padua (1195 – 1231).
In 1510 an epidemic broke out in the water logged port city of Venice. The effect was disastrous. The pestilence took away the life of 32 year old Giorgione, one of the city’s most celebrated painters and a close associate of Titian. Escaping the contagion, Titian moved to Padua in 1511. It is here that he received one of his first religious commissions to paint three large frescoes in the main hall of the Scuola del Santo, a confraternity devoted to St. Anthony.
Often regarded as a miracle worker (a patron saint of lost people and things), Saint Anthony in today’s painting is presented primarily as a ‘Saint of the People’ or as Pope Leo XIII says ‘Everyone’s Saint’. The painting illustrates three turbulent tests which through the intercession of St. Anthony turn into a testimony of hope and faith. The frescoes are grouped in a frieze like arrangement with the primary characters in the foreground placed against an atmospheric background that enhances the narrative clarity and the dramatic emphasis.
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