Conceptualising the Picture Plane: Illusionism and Flatness in Titian's Painting

Research Seminar

  • Date: Oct 1, 2019
  • Time: 14:00
  • Speaker: Giorgio Tagliaferro
  • Location: Villino Stroganoff, Via Gregoriana 22, 00187 Rom
  • Contact: paulinyi@biblhertz.it
Conceptualising the Picture Plane: Illusionism and Flatness in Titian's Painting
Recent scholarship has increasingly emphasised Titian's ability to allure the viewer into his paintings through the tactile effects of sensuous colouring. In contrast, little attention has been paid to other strategies pursued by the Venetian artist to connect with the spectator, for instance by using pictorial devices that test the possibilities of painting to simulate a three-dimensional space on a bi-dimensional surface.

This critical bias resonates with the commonplace Vasarian opposition between Florentine disegno and Venetian colorito, and with a tendency to exclude Venetian painters from the development of a theoretical discourse on the visual arts.
Breaking with such a limiting view, this seminar examines ways in which Titian creatively explored the function of the picture plane as both a boundary and a link between the fictional world of the depiction and the actual world of the viewer. By focusing mainly on two pictures, the Pala Pesaro (1519-26) and the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple (1534-38), it discusses how Titian fashioned ingenious designs that, while creating a sense of continuity between the pictorial and the real space, at the same time negate it by disrupting the canon of perspectival coherence. It will be argued that, in this way, Titian concentrated on the tension between spatial illusionism and the flatness of the surface to manipulate the gaze and compel the onlooker into a more engaging viewing experience.

Giorgio Tagliaferro (Ph.D. Venice, Ca' Foscari) is Associate Professor in Renaissance Art at the University of Warwick. He specializes in Renaissance and Early Modern Italian art, with a main focus on Venice.

Scientific Organization: Daniele Di Cola

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