The Three Ages of Man
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The Three Ages of Man about 1512 - 1514

On Display Scottish National Gallery

This early work depicts the three stages of life: infancy, adulthood and old age. Cupid clambers over the sleeping babies who may grow up to be like the young lovers on the right. Their intense and intimate relationship will eventually be interrupted by death, symbolised by two skulls which the old man contemplates. Titian invites us to meditate on the transience or passage of human life and reminds us of everlasting love. To his contemporaries the church in the background may have signalled the promise of eternal life in heaven. The lush landscape complements the lyrical mood, echoing classical and contemporary pastoral poetry.

Glossary Open

Classicism

A general term for art and architecture based on ancient Greek and Roman culture.

Pastoral

A landscape painting in which the countryside is represented as an idyllic place, peopled by shepherds and shepherdesses or mythological figures.

Symbolism

The representation of subjects or ideas by use of a device or motif to create underlying meaning. A literary and artistic movement that originated in France and spread through much of Europe in the late 19th century. There was no consistent style but rather an appeal to the idea of the artist as mystic or visionary and the desire to express a world beyond superficial appearances.

Classicism, Pastoral, Symbolism

Details

  • Acc. No. NGL 068.46
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 90.00 x 150.70 cm (framed: 193.70 x 129.50 x 13.40 cm)
  • Credit Edinburgh, National Gallery of Scotland (Bridgewater Loan, 1945)