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The Art in Lighting (Week 4)

February 6, 2018

Renaissance art is the kind of art that historians hold everything else to comparison. In my opinion, some Renaissance art lives up to that hype, and the rest is up for debate. But one cannot deny the talent of Titian.


Titian, a lesser known Renaissance artist, is now known for the pigments he used and how he framed his primary characters. By using a lot of pigment and layers of highlight and shadow, Titian made a point of directing focus in his paintings. Take "Sacred and Profane Love" (1514):



You have Titian's wife, a Cupid, and Venus seated left to right in the forefront of the picture. Each character gets their own main color that the audience can stare at respectively. The bride is in blue, the Cupid is nothing but skin tones, and Venus has her big red scarf to draw the eye to her.


What's interesting about this set up is the order of attention: Your eye is first drawn to Venus and her scarf, then to the bride, and then to the Cupid who is playing around. And considering that this painting was a celebration of Titian's marriage, you could almost say he wanted to thank Venus by making her the first thing you look at.


The background makes for a great shadow example: It's dark but still full of details. Titian makes for an interesting background artist by keeping details such as the building behind the bride with its travelers and the tiny little village behind Venus. And while these details are great to look at, they don't clutter the picture or take from the characters.


Titian is probably as underrated as a Renaissance artist could get, but his work is worth looking at. He plays with shadows more than other artists of his era and messes around with different source material. So for this week, I'll leave you with a few examples of Titian's shadow play and unusual subjects.


Assumption of the Virgin                      Allegory of Prudence

             (1518)                                                             (1570)





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