The Power of Color: Titian and Colorito

Titian is the poster child for a High Renaissance master. He was the city of Veniceand developed the style of oil painting. Venetian artists had an intense competition with central Italians and there was a constant back and forth between the two sides. Venetian artists found their breakthrough in the High Renaissance with Titian and his perfection of oil painting. But Titian’s importance goes past inspiring just Veniceand many consider him to be the “first painter in modern times to free the brush from the task of exactly describing tactile surfaces, volumes, and details, and to convert it into a vehicle for the direct perception of light through color and for the unimpeded expression of feeling.”[i] He did this by being the champion of colorito, the application of color. In his long career, Titian’s style changed drastically as he worked more with the medium and the canvas. This exhibit will examine Titian’s colorito in the development art, the importance of Venice in this development, and the significance of color and brushwork to his paintings in both style and meaning.


[i] Frederick Hartt, History of the Italian Renaissance, (New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc., 1994), 586.

Image information:

Titian, Assumption of the Virgin, 1516-1518, Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Veince, Image courtesy of ARTstor

Titian, Venus with a Mirror, 1555, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., image courtesy of National Gallery of Art

Titian, Rape of Europa, 1559-1562, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, image courtesy of ARTstor

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