Sacrifice of Isaac (1542 – 1544) by Titian

Sacrifice of Isaac - Titian - 1542 - 1544

Artwork Information

TitleSacrifice of Isaac
Date1542 - 1544
Dimensions328 x 285 cm
Art MovementMannerism (Late Renaissance)

About Sacrifice of Isaac

The artwork “Sacrifice of Isaac” is a significant piece by the esteemed artist Titian, created between the years 1542 and 1544. The medium used is oil on panel, with the dimensions of the artwork measuring 328 by 285 centimeters. It is crafted in the art movement known as Mannerism, which follows the Late Renaissance period. The genre of this piece is religious painting, and it conveys a powerful biblical scene.

The artwork depicts the dramatic and tense Biblical episode where Abraham is about to sacrifice his son Isaac, following God’s command as a test of faith. In this large-scale composition, the elderly Abraham is shown with a strong physique, donning a richly draped ochre garment, with a green cloak swirling behind him. His face is turned upwards in a twist of sudden relief and surprise, his eyes meeting the descending angel who intervenes at the critical moment.

Isaac lies below him on an altar of wood, his youthful, tender form in contrast with his father’s aged strength. Isaac appears resigned, with a gentle expression, his body passive as if he is accepting his fate. The angel, with dynamic spread wings and a sense of urgency, forcefully grasps Abraham’s wrist, stopping the downward motion of the knife to spare Isaac.

The background is relatively subdued, with a brooding sky that echoes the gravity of the moment, yet the appearance of the angel introduces a divine lightness. An unaware ram is included in the scene, foreshadowing the substitute sacrifice provided by God—a detail in line with the biblical narrative. The strong emotions, the intense physicality of the figures, and the dynamic movement are characteristic of the Mannerist style, seeking to express the complex psychological states and the heightened drama of the story.

Overall, Titian masterfully balances the scene’s composition, emphasizing the moment’s emotional intensity and the divine intervention.

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