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Current time:0:00Total duration:3:25

Video transcript

we're in the church of santa maria de Ferrari in Venice looking at the giant altarpiece by Titian of the Assumption of the Virgin it's 23 feet tall it's a big painting so that means that the figures at the bottom the apostles who gesture up toward Mary are over life-size there's a frenetic quality to those apostles we don't even see the figure on the right in Reds face but he reaches up creating this wonderful entrance place for our eye as he reaches up to Mary so our eye reaches up to Mary she has her arms open in addition of prayer but also of acceptance to God the Father above her whose arms are even more outstretched as he receives her in heaven that's precisely what the subject of the Assumption is it is her moving from the physical world at her death and being assumed into heaven and you get the sense of the first bound figures wanting to lift against the force of gravity and move with her up to heaven is an interesting play of scale here as we look up to God who is even further away the scale doesn't change so he is even more massive and expands across the sky and the Virgin Mary looks somewhat foreshortened we're looking at her from below and Mary is encircled by a halo of golden light and surrounding that are figures of angels supporting her on clouds it is like a burst of spiritual golden light that emerges from the altar of this church and it's surrounded by gothic windows so the circle of light is framed by yet another circle of real light there's a wonderful way the Titian has taken look straight on composition remember this is over the high altar in the church it is completely central when you walk and you look straight down the nave right at this massive painting and because it is so large because you look at it so directly it could become a symmetrical structure but what the artist has done instead is to create an asymmetry even in the frieze of figures below because they just stick you late in so many varied ways and Mary is a series of soft arcs and diagonals look at the way that the shadow of her drape moves around her left arm and then moves diagonally across the front of her body becoming a diagonal that offsets the centrality of this image when you walk into the church you look directly at it down the nave and in addition it's framed by a choir screen that has an arched opening and so your gaze is directed toward this painting especially difficult to you experience this painting and the other painting that Titian made for this church the Pizarro Madonna in the reproduction these are paintings that need to be seen Institute they need to overwhelm you from their scale from the richness of their color and from the complexity of not only their theological programs but also their compositions you