Tiziano’s “The Assumption of the Virgin” and El Greco’s “Burial of Count Orgaz” Paintings


Art is an integral part of human history, development, and culture. Throughout centuries, various occurrences and events have shaped the way people approach this subject, giving birth to an array of visually distinct styles and outlooks. Nowadays, people of the 21st century are able to look back onto the works of their predecessors, deriving both aesthetic enjoyment and knowledge of the time and culture of the past. For the purposes of understanding the development of artistic medium and the need to have a better grasp on the things our ancestors believed, we can look at paintings from particular periods of time.

In this essay, a further look into 2 paintings: “The Assumption of the Virgin” by Tiziano Vecelli and the “Burial of Count Orgaz” by El Greco. The former, one of the more famous works of Titian, was created in the period from 1516 to 1518, during the Italian Renaissance. The period signified a reignited interest in classical and antique topics, as well as religious themes. Many of the paintings made during the renaissance featured famous scenes from myth and legend, mostly centered on the realistic depiction of the human body.

“The Assumption of the Virgin” depicts one of the scenes from the catholic doctrine, where the mother of Jesus Christ is welcomed into heaven. The second picture, on the other hand, is a good representation of the Spanish Renaissance and was painted in 1586. The scene depicts the burial of Count of Orgaz, who was a semi-legendary figure in Spanish culture. Both paintings being examined exemplify the most popular artistic styles of their period and have stark differences in their presentation.

Stylistic AnalysisThe right to a fair trial, in my opinion, is one of the most fundamental and important civil rights bestowed upon the people since their birth. When dealing with something as complicated and serious as criminality, the governments should be able to guarantee each citizen an equal chance to be judged without prejudice, represented, and protected. This right was undermined and is being undermined on a constant basis, with certain groups of people being affected more severely than others. Representatives of racial or ethnic minority groups can experience discrimination or prejudice, either intentionally or unintentionally from the justice system.

These kinds of people may struggle with acquiring a lawyer to represent their rights in court or may be denied on various parts of the procedure under specific circumstances. The federal law seeks to prevent such instances of injustice and ensure that every person has the ability to stand before the law with certainty. This is reinforced through the laws guaranteeing the impartiality of the court. State lawyers are also available to the participant of the trial, as well as the ability to self-represent their cases.

Overall, the right to a fair trial is an important and integral part of people’s lives in society. It establishes that each person will be judged fairly and impartially for their actions, which is crucial to give an appropriate sentence. In the past, and in the present day, there were instances when people’s right to a fair trial was not upheld or violated. This has occurred disproportionally to people of color, disenfranchised individuals, and other groups that are often ostracized from society. The government establishes by law, that trial should be impartial and with the attendant’s ability to represent their rights.

The Assumption of Mary, as previously stated, was created during the prevalence of the Italian Renaissance, which was a period of revitalization for the European culture and art scene. Coming after the middle ages, the renaissance saw the natural arts, sculpture, theatre, and song flourish, being invigorated with influences of old coupled with fresh talent. The period of revitalization was incentivized by the need to return to tradition, to find a sense of aesthetic beauty and naturalism displayed in ancient Roman and Greek art.

A defining quality of the Italian renaissance is, without a doubt, the focus on human beauty and realism. Well-defined figures, toned, proportional bodies with muscle, both sculpted and painted, were prevalent. As Italy became the center for European culture and art, it has significantly increased the number of talented individuals working and residing there. The colors used during this period are bright and expressive, with a variety of composition and movement which entrances the viewer (The Assumption of the Virgin by Titian – Facts about the Painting).

Titian uses many of these features to his advantage, creating a fantastical scene with a lot of motion and an easily discernable structure. The painting can be divided into two zones, heaven and earth which a separated by clouds are distinctly different from one another in their lighting. The people a shadowed, while the angelic figures up top are illuminated, signifying both their otherworldly presence and superiority before mere humans. The most important people in the painting are also accentuated by color, being dressed in red robes that make them easily noticeable among other people.

The works of the Spanish renaissance, although similar, had a distinct difference in their approach to embracing tradition. A lot of focus is still brought to human figures, making a display of fluidity of movement and composition apparent. The stark difference from Italian art lies mostly in the use of lightning and color, all of which appear more heavy and oppressive, stripping the image of the sense of serenity and otherworldly charm that Italian art had.

The paintings depicting miracle work and religious themes are dominated by dark, rich colors, blacks, and reds standing out among the composition. El Greco’s “Burial” is separated into two distinct zones as well, similarly to Titian’s approach, his picture, however, juxtaposes the heavenly realm and the mortal plane even further, with the crowd of people almost merging together and being mostly dressed in dark colors (The Burial of Count Orgaz (El Entierro) (1586-8)). The picture evokes feelings of silent praise, a calm triumph, and appraisal, as well as the sense of mourning associated with a burial

Cultural Analysis

Culturally, “The Assumption of Mary” was one of the major commissions for Titian and the work that brought him public attention. It is a great representation of the reawakening the are scene has received in Italy, and much like a fresh flower blooming in spring, the painting brought a fresh sensation to the Venetian public. During this period, Italy saw an unprecedented cultural and territorial expansion, technological development, and advances in other fields of life, which naturally led itself to better living conditions for the people of Italy. The paintings of this period look light are emotive, filled with energy and an unsurpassable expanse of potential (Assumption of the Virgin). I feel that the historic flourishment of Italy has played a significant part in how art was made, perceived, and conceived.

In Spain, cultural components also played a role in setting the scene for the future work of El Greco. While the country saw success in the fields of foreign expansion and innovation, some unresolved tensions were also evident, especially in its cultural landscape. Tensions between religious groups and fighting between catholic and protestant Christians were shaking the country, and the surge of inquisitory activity has also had a destabilizing influence on Spain (Kilroy-Ewbank and Kilroy-Ewbank). I feel that an unstable atmosphere, coupled with foreign influences has found a reflection in Spanish art, which is shown to be dominated by dark colors and heavy subjects.

Conclusion and Thematic Connection

In conclusion, both of these painters were influenced by the period of the renaissance and the unique circumstances of their countries. The period has revitalized artistic movements forgotten during the previous period of history and shifted the art’s view of the human body from a negative to a positive one. No longer focused on human suffering, the art of this period combines the mythical with the natural, the realism of the human body with the existence of higher beings.

Both works depict supernatural forces along with human beings, in scenes of spiritual significance. The paintings are clearly divided into two parts, the realm of the mythical and the human plane, which is juxtaposed both by lighting and the general mood depicted. The heavenly figures are alight, having a serene and graceful presence that evokes feelings of kindness and comfort, welcoming both Mary and the Count of Orgaz into their ranks.

Works Cited

The Assumption of the Virgin by Titian – Facts about the Painting. 2013. Web.

Assumption of the Virgin.Artble. 2017. Web.

Kilroy-Ewbank, Lauren. “The Renaissance in Spain.” Smarthistory. Web.

“The Burial of Count Orgaz (El Entierro) (1586-8).” Burial of Count Orgaz, El Greco: Analysis. Web.