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Titian, Noli me Tangere

Key facts
Full title Noli me Tangere
Artist Titian
Artist dates active about 1506; died 1576
Date made about 1514
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 110.5 × 91.9 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Samuel Rogers, 1856
Inventory number NG270
Location Room 29
Collection Main Collection
Noli me Tangere

Risen from the dead, Christ appears to his grieving follower, Mary Magdalene, in the Garden of Gethsemane. At first she mistakes him for a gardener but then reaches out her hand in wonder. Christ says, ‘Do not touch me’ (in Latin, noli me tangere); it is time for his followers to let go of his earthly presence and await the Holy Ghost (John 20: 14–18).

This is one of the earliest works by Titian in the National Gallery’s collection. Its high-key colours and the way the figures are set in a natural landscape echo the style of Giorgione, with whom Titian trained. The lines of the tree and the hillside draw attention to the look between the figures. Titian has suggested Christ’s gauzy loincloth and Mary Magdalene’s scarf with dragged brushstrokes of lead white that catch the texture of the painting’s canvas.

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