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Titian’s Miracles: Artistry and Efficacy Between the San Rocco Christ and the Accademia Pietà

Nygren, Christopher J (2015) Titian’s Miracles: Artistry and Efficacy Between the San Rocco Christ and the Accademia Pietà. Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz, LVII (3). 321 - 349. ISSN 0342-1201

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In the 1568 edition of his Lives, Giorgio Vasari attributed a miracle-working icon to Titian. The San Rocco Christ Carrying the Cross had been working miracles since 1519, and following Vasari’s attribution it was inextricably linked to Titian’s artistry. The magnitude of this claim has not been appreciated. Titian’s final painting, the Pietà (Venice, Galleria dell’Accademia), cannot be understood outside of this heritage of miraculous efficacy. This painting had been ideated as the altarpiece for Titian’s tomb. Therefore, scholars have long seen the painting as a reflection of Titian’s artistic identity. This article suggests that the painting attests to the complexity and instability of that identity as it relates to the larger question of how images and image-makers mediated the dispersal of divine grace, which had been evoked by Vasari. In his final picture Titian capitalized on the anxieties that attended his reputation as the producer of a miraculous image. While recalling this earlier moment in Titian’s career, this last painting layers references to miraculous agency by including votive objects associated with miracles; appropriating the history of the painting’s intended site; and citing a little known miracle-working image, the Madonna della Navicella. All of these coordinates point to Titian’s Pietà as the vector of miraculous grace, which is a radical claim for the artist to put forward in the wake of the Reformation and the decrees of the Council of Trent.


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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Nygren, Christopher JCNYGREN@pitt.eduCNYGREN0000-0002-2039-4313
Date: December 2015
Date Type: Publication
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Journal or Publication Title: Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz
Volume: LVII
Number: 3
Publisher: Max-Planck-Institut
Page Range: 321 - 349
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History of Art and Architecture
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 0342-1201
Article Type: Research Article
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2016 15:32
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2020 19:10


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