Titian’s Christ Blessing (c.1560)

The idea that God is inside us and that we ourselves are God is so pervasive in Renaissance art that it needs stressing. Time and again I have shown how Titian depicts himself as Christ and God.1 This canvas in Russia is less well-known than other images of Christ by Titian but maintains the same self-reference.

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Captions for image(s) above:

Titian, Christ Blessing (c.1560) Oil on canvas. The Hermitage, St. Petersburg

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A comparison to Titian's well-known self-portrait (the original now lost) makes the point as do Christ's gestures....  

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Captions for image(s) above:

Left: Detail of Titian's Christ Blessing
Right: Detail of engraving after Titian's lost self-portait

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Christ's left hand, horizontal, balances the glass orb as though he might be holding a palette; the other raises two fingers in blessing as though they are a "paintbrush" about to begin the picture. Pointing and painting in art are closely linked.2

The glass orb, meanwhile, also suggests an eyeball with a window-frame reflection. The suggestion is, as in portraits with a similar reflection on the eye by Dürer, that the scene is indoors and during daylight hours even as the background suggests the opposite, that Christ is outdoors at night.3 With Christ as the divine painter facing the viewer, the canvas must then be a mirror, an archetypal symbol for the mind.

Captions for image(s) above:

Titian, Christ Blessing (c.1560)

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Notes:

1. See Titian's Christ Flagellated (also c.1560), Noli Me Tangere fragment (1553-4) and The Tribute Money (1560-8).

2. See the theme Pointing and Touch

3. See Dürer's Portrait of Philip Melanchthon (1526), 

Original Publication Date on EPPH: 24 May 2012. © Simon Abrahams. Articles on this site are the copyright of Simon Abrahams. To use copyrighted material in print or other media for purposes beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. Websites may link to this page without permission (please do) but may not reproduce the material on their own site without crediting Simon Abrahams and EPPH.