May 19, On This Day
Titian’s elevation to mastery
Over 5 centuries ago on this day — May 19, 1518 — Italian Renaissance artist Titian’s masterpiece, the Assumption of the Virgin or Frari Assumptio, was unveiled as a large altarpiece panel at the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari or Frari church in Venice.
The agitated figures of the Apostles marked a break with the usual meditative stillness of saints in Venetian painting, in the tradition of Giovanni Bellini and others.
It was perhaps originally rather shocking for the Venetian public, but soon recognised as a masterpiece that confirmed Titian’s position as the leading artist in Venice, and one of the most important in all Italy, a rival to Michelangelo and Raphael.