Tiziano Vecellio (ca. 1488–1576) known as Titian is one of the most prominent Venetian artist of the sixteenth century. Titian has gained world fame due to his outstanding use of color, which has influenced the art of the seventeenth century and the subsequent periods. Titian’s paintings include different topics – altarpieces, pastoral scenes, portraits, and mythological paintings. One of the main characters of Titian’s mythological works is the Venus, the mythological goddess of love. Moreover, Titian has used the image of Venus as the way of transmission of his humanistic and philosophic ideas.
The picture that impressed me the most is “Sacred and Profound Love”. The painting dates back circa 1514. It was made on the request of Niccolò Aurelio in order to celebrate his marriage. There are many debates and interpretations concerning the plot of the picture I would like to speak about the one that I find the most relevant. The idea of the picture is to represent and contrast two Venuses which embody two different kinds of love – terrestrial and heavenly. This idea comes from the humanistic believes based on the Platonic study about the nature of love. Terrestrial Venus is dressed in rich dresses with jewelry and incarnates beauty and fertility. The heavenly Venus is nude, which also comes from the Neoplatonic concepts meaning that true love has nothing to hide and does not need ornament. She embodies eternal and divine love. They both are united as one leads to another; the two women in the picture are depicted as the sisters or even twins. They are united by the cupid portrayed between them.
I have been impressed by the allegory used by Titian in this painting. He has contrasted two concepts of love without understating the importance of each of them. Like many Renaissance paintings, Titian’s work celebrates women’s beauty and nudity. Nevertheless, to my mind, the other images that stand behind these two women are fascinating as well. I can look at this picture for hours admiring the perfectness of the lines and colors, exactness of the details, beautiful background, and marvelous characters of the picture. However, in spite of all the breathtaking techniques, the one thing that makes me delight is the main idea of the painting – the idea of love. This theme is inseparably connected with our life and is also the peak of the humanistic, philosophic, and religious studies. Titian has skillfully conveyed how the two types of love are interrelated; has shown that both of them are beautiful and that earthly love is not sinful; ideally, it is the step towards the heavenly love. This conception reflects the major renaissance ideas opposed to the medieval tradition which regarded human body as something sinful and devil. At that time, the only acceptable type of love was the love for God, because any other kinds of terrestrial love were sinful.
The picture, to my mind, radiates something bright and solemn. It gives me the elevated mood; except being pleasant to my eyes, it is pleasant to my heart. Titian has glorified the beauty of humaneness, including human body and love showing its connection with the divine.