Madonna di Ca' Pesaro by Tiziano Vecellio (Titian)

by Mary Elizabeth Podles

In 1518, the Pesaro family acquired a side chapel in the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, the Franciscan church in Venice, to use as a funerary -memorial. Titian, who had just finished a glorious Assumption for the main altar, was seized upon to do the decoration. The altarpiece he designed, the Pesaro -Madonna, combines several types of pictures familiar to Venetians of the day into one. It is a Sacra Conversazione, in which the Madonna enthroned communes with a gathering of saints; it is an ex voto, an offering given in thanks for favors received; and it is a family portrait, a statement about the stature and character . . .

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Mary Elizabeth Podles is the retired curator of Renaissance and Baroque art at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. She and her husband Leon, a Touchstone senior editor, have six children and live in Baltimore, Maryland.

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