Madonna of the Pesaro family, Santa Maria dei Frari, Venice

   Painted by Titian, the Madonna of the Pesaro Family was commissioned by Jacopo Pesaro, Bishop of Paphos, Cyprus. Following the prescriptions of Giovanni Bellini and Giorgione for the depiction of the enthroned Virgin and Child, Titian placed these saintly figures on an elevated throne against a landscape, with two large columns flanking them. Titian, however, elaborated on the format by relegating the throne to the side and placing St. Peter, not the customary musical angels, at the foot of the throne—his key to heaven's gate prominently displayed. The armored figure on the lower left presents a Turkish captive to the Virgin and Child to refer to Jacopo's triumph over the Turks in 1502 at Santa Maura while commanding the papal naval ships. The diagonal formed by the throne, saint, and armored and captive figures makes for a dynamic rendition. At either side of the Virgin are members of the Pesaro family kneeling, with St. Francis, the founder of the Franciscan Order to which the Church of Santa Maria dei Frari belongs, on the right petitioning the Virgin to view the Pesaro family favorably. Above, heavily foreshortened putti support the cross on which Christ will be crucified, yet the Christ Child seems oblivious to his future fate as he plays with his mother's veil. This playful detail shows Titian's interest in stressing the human aspect of his religious characters.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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