The Martyrdom of St. Lawrence (1548 – 1559) by Titian

The Martyrdom of St. Lawrence - Titian - 1548 - 1559

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Artwork Information

TitleThe Martyrdom of St. Lawrence
Date1548 - 1559
Dimensions277 x 493 cm
Art MovementMannerism (Late Renaissance)
Current LocationI Gesuiti (Church of Santa Maria Assunta), Venice, Italy

About The Martyrdom of St. Lawrence

“The Martyrdom of St. Lawrence” is an oil on canvas artwork by the artist Titian, created between the years 1548 and 1559. As an exemplar of the Mannerism movement during the Late Renaissance, this religious painting is notable for its significant dimensions, measuring 277 x 493 cm. The artwork is displayed at I Gesuiti (Church of Santa Maria Assunta) in Venice, Italy.

The artwork presents a dramatic rendering of the martyrdom of St. Lawrence, a Christian saint who was executed by being roasted to death on a gridiron. In the painting, the central figure of St. Lawrence is seen subjected to his grim fate, his body sprawled and contorted in agony upon the fiery gridiron. The structure of the composition follows an elliptical form that draws attention to the saint’s anguish-ridden body, heightened by the stark chiaroscuro and the tumultuous arrangement of figures around him.

In contrast to the dark, tumultuous space, a divine light shines from the heavens above—perhaps signifying God’s presence and the eventual ascension and redemption of the saint’s soul. Surrounding him, his persecutors go about their work with detached efficiency or outright brutality. The artwork’s powerful portrayal of human suffering, combined with the interplay of divine illumination and mortal torment, vividly embodies the religious fervor and complex spirituality that characterize Titian’s work and Mannerism as a whole.

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