Master of Arts (MA)



Document Type



This thesis parses two early paintings by the Venetian High Renaissance artist Titian. The discussions analyze the circumstances and patronage, compositional elements, iconography, and meanings of each work that lead through a maze of often contradictory art historical scholarship. This journey concludes by my proffering greater insights for each extraordinary painting by this internationally renowned artist. The earliest extant work by Titian--St. Peter Enthroned, with Donor and Pop--is a wonderful, if somewhat awkward, completion of a commission begun by Giovanni Bellini. Dating controversies over the centuries are examined, and a secure time-frame of 1506 to the first half of 1507 is advanced. Differences of opinion over the meaning of the work are also analyzed, and I propose that it served as an ex voto for the patron, Jacopo Pesaro, as prideful recognition of his commission as papal admiral in the Christian crusade against the Turks. The depiction of citizen patrons in devotional art did not belong to an established Venetian tradition, but to one with which Pesaro became familiar during his service at the papal court in Rome, where it was widespread. This patron used art as a means to promote his ambitions, and Titian used it to demonstrate his ability to compete with Giovanni Bellini. The second work examined, the Pesaro Altarpiece, had a long creative gestation which included several changes in composition that culminated in a new standard for pale--"altarpieces" and sealed Titian's reputation as the leader of the Venetian school. This painting, in situ at the Frari, is part of a wall altar dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, adjacent to the Pesaro family tombs. The painting can only be appreciated by understanding its different meanings to Jacopo Pesaro, the rest of the Pesaro clan, the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception, and the Franciscans of the Frari. This thesis demystifies and disproves some art historical interpretations that have confused understanding of Titian's artistry and the significance of the painting.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Mark J. Zucker