The Pietà now in the Gallerie dell'Accademia in Venice is one of the last paintings by the Italian master Titian, and in its final, extended, state was left incomplete at his death in 1576, to be completed by Palma Giovane. Titian had intended it to hang over his grave, and the two stages of painting were to make it fit in two different churches.
The picture is among Titian's last, one of several left unfinished at his death. An inscription in the lower part of the picture records that it was finished by Palma Giovane, whose interventions seem to have been kept to the minimum necessary, and doing his best to match Titian's own style.A minimalist view of the areas he worked on is that it "was limited to the angel with the torch and to touching up the tympanum of the stone shrine", but the female statue and Jerome's cloak have also been suspected of showing his hand, and he may have touched up the architecture more generally.
The painting is one of a group in Titian's distinctive late style, which begins fully about 1570, though continuing trends seen in earlier works as far back as the mid-1550s. He often kept paintings in the studio for a long period, with several probably unfinished at his death in 1576. His brushwork becomes bold, but imprecise and impressionistic, and worked over many times, as recorded in a famous description by Palma Giovane. The distinction between forms and the space between them almost disappears, and "The forms emerge like wraiths out of the circumambient darkness, and mass is reduced to a flickering pattern of colour and light. In his last years only these elements had reality for Titian."
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