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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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Religion saved by Spain is a painting, specifically an oil on canvas that was produced between 1572-1575. The painting was produced by an Italian painter of the Venetian school, Titian.

The painting was meant for the commemoration of the Battle of Lepanto. It was one of Titian’s late works and for years it has been considered as an outstanding painting by Titian. In 1839, the Religion saved by Spain painting was purchased by the Prado Museum collection. Other titles of the painting include Spain succouring Religion and Religion succoured by Spain.

Titian’s Religion saved by Spain depicts an allegory, and mixing the allegory with political propaganda. The painting portrays Spain as a woman who is in a dramatic landscape, on the right hand she is holding a shield and a well-drawn spear and on it there is the flag of victory. The Turkish threat is clearly shown by a man who is dressed in a turban, he is on a chariot led by two horses on the sea. There is the coat of arms of Felipe II (1556-1598) that is on the shield. The painting depicts a woman as the person who symbolises Christian Religion. The woman is to the right side, falling on her, the woman is disguised in a blue drapery and threatened by snakes.

In the famous battle of Lepanto, the Holy League troops that defeated Selim II (1524-1574). An alliance of Spain, Papal States and Venice formed this Holy League. The aim of the battle was to stop the Ottoman Empire being expanded further into Europe and they succeeded. The Religion saved Spain painting was sent to Philip II in 1576. The painting thereafter remained in the Spain Royal Collection. Since the 19th century up to now the painting is in Padro Museum. The shield that the woman holds in her right hand has the coat of arms of the King of Spain, Philip II from 1556 to 1598. Behind the first woman there is another woman that is carrying a sword which represents justice. The woman that is holding the shield and Turks are not the only threat she is facing but also by Protestantism which is shown as the snakes. Behind the justice is a man's head, which probably is the half-brother of Philip II, Juan of Austria who is the Christian fleet's commander at the pre-mentioned battle of Lepanto.

The painting shows how Titian represented a composition for the King of Spain and it is clearly symbolic of the struggles of Spain in terms of religion. The painting is still in Prada Museum, Madrid in Spain, with dimensions of 168.5 cm × 168.5 cm (66.3 in × 66.3 in) and it is an oil on canvas painting by the great artist Titian. The Spain succouring Religion painting is a typical artistic work that has a deep meaning and major symbolism of political and religious aspects of Spain during the early years of King Philip's II ruling.