Madonna and Child with St Dorothy and George Titian Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Art historians and scholars have long debated over the authorship of the masterpiece entitled Madonna and Child with St Dorothy and St George.

In 1953, in the Libro de entregas of Escorial, Sigüenza attributed the oil painting to Titian, however Italian scholar Cassiano dal Pozzo attributed it to Giorgione in 1626. The painting was displayed in the Prado Museum in 1839 with the latter attribution. But the art critics Crowe and Giovanni Cavalcaselle both unanimously claimed that the painting was authored by Titian and it remains under this attribution ever since.

The painting dates between 1505 – 1520 according to the art historian Georg Gronau. The male Saint portrayed in the painting has been the subject of controversy. Some art historians identify him as being Saint George, but others claim him to be Saint Hulfo who was the husband of Saint Bridget. Scholars have also debated over the identity of the female saint and some claim her to be Saint Catherine, while others identify her as Saint Dorothy. But, it's more likely that she is Saint Dorothy due to the roses and basket of fruit in the composition of the painting which are her iconographic symbols.

The figures included in Titian's work reflect his characteristic monumentality in contours of shades and light. The colouring's luminosity adds to the dynamics of the scene which includes the figures in a non-traditional arrangement. The Child and the Madonna are in the foreground of the painting, and the Saints approaching from the opposite side. A section of the sky is left uncovered by the double curtain offering dynamics to the scene and suggesting that the Saints have entered the chambers of the Madonna and the Child.

The interaction between Saint Dorothy and the Child is suggested through the touching of the flower basket. The Child is leaning towards Saint Dorothy and delicately touching the flowers. The strong bonding of affection between the Madonna and her Child is expressed through the facial expressions of the two figures. The Child is looking directly into the eyes of the Madonna who is holding him with care. It's a vulnerable scene, exquisitely captured by Titian through warm colours and distinct contrasts. The Madonna and Child with St Dorothy and St George was owned by Philip II who sent it to the Escorial. Nobody knows from where the monarch purchased the painting. However, clients started to become interested in Titian's early works during the end of his life and his artistic decline.

The Madonna and Child with St Dorothy and St George is exhibited at the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain and integrates the style of the High Renaissance. It's a religious painting describing a powerfully dramatic scene which expresses the strong attachment between the Madonna and her Child. Titian uses strong contrasts and waves of shadows and lights to portray the movement of Saints Dorothy and George approaching the Child and the Madonna in her chambers.