Polyptych of the Resurrection Virgin AnnunciateX 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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The Polyptych of the Resurrection Virgin Annunciate is a painting by Titian, a late Italian Renaissance master.

This masterpiece dates back to 1520 and 1522 in the Basilica Cathedral of Santi Nazaro e Celso located in Northern Italy. The column of the painting panel is signed "Ticianus Faciebat / MDXXII" with St. Sebastian. This painting was commissioned to Titian by Altobello Averoldi, the then papal legate in Venice when he worked as the official painter of Venice. The artwork was delivered by Titian in 1522, as indicated by his signature on the painting's lower right pane. The huge polyptych was set at the big altar of Santi Nazaro e Celso's church in Brescia, which was by then a possession of Venetian mainland. This painting replaced another altarpiece previously designed by Vincenzo Foppa.

The use of a compartment-divided polyptych was certainly Averoldi's explicit demand. In this way, Titian obtained a certain level of unity, although it was not an architectural or a spatial one according to the polyptychs of the 15th century. Instead, the Italian painter adopted a light and Chromatic-dynamic convergence on the central scene. The Polyptych of the Resurrection Virgin Annunciate inspired some Brescian Renaissance painters, and this includes Moretto and Savoldo. The panels of the work include:

Saint Sebastian

Saint Sebastian's traditional Martyrdom is depicted in the right panel, although in this masterpiece the saint is portrayed in a contorted position probably derived from Fire of Borgo by Raphael still in the Vatican or Punishment of Aman by Michelangelo found on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. The face of the saint looks a lot like that of Christ located in the central pane, and that of Titian as well. The background shows an Angel pointing at Sebastian while talking to Saint Roch. The uncovered legs of Roch demonstrate the characteristic of lesions, and prayers to these saints were cited as protection against plague.


The painting's central scene illustrates a victorious and glowing Christ above a grey and dawn dark yellow sky holding the Crusader sign as a symbol of the Catholic Church. Right under him, you will see a big group of soldiers carrying armours. This work demonstrates the influence of the works of Raphael like the Transfiguration and Danube school when it comes to details like the illumination of the landscape as well as the northern Europe fashion of Jerusalem city in the background.

Annunciation of the Virgin

The two upper panels depict the Annunciation, with the Virgin on the right and the angel on the left, according to a structure dating back to the Mid Ages. Titian painted these two figures under intense light, especially the angel's which is well illuminated from behind.

Saints Celsus and Nazarius

The left panel of the painting shows the saints Celsus and Nazarius to which the cathedral housing the church altar was consecrated, on a dull background. Nazarius is wearing a blazing armour, while Celsus, his disciple is right behind him. Altobello Averoldi, the kneeling donor, is portrayed well from the profile. The influence of Giorgione, Titian's master, is also seen in the dull colours and calm atmosphere.