Pastoral Psychology

, Volume 60, Issue 3, pp 409–420 | Cite as

Desired, Repeated, Replaced: Power and Loss in Titian’s Noli Me Tangere

  • Sonia Waters


The depiction of larger unconscious symbols, such as popular Gospel themes, can become particularized through the individual experience of the artist. They can express sublimated desires or displaced wishes, disguised like dream-elements in a work of art. Classical Freudian theory explores the process of sublimation and dream-work as two sides of the psychoanalytic interpretation of art. Titian’s Noli Me Tangere represents his efforts to sublimate his sexual and aggressive drives through this Gospel theme. It also suggests his Oedipal feelings of love and competition for his mentor Giorgione, as he anxiously maneuvered to take his mentor’s place. The death of his mentor and his own anxiety are worked out in his art, exemplified by his appropriation of Giorgione’s style and the repetition of Giorgione’s landscapes in Titian’s early work. As Titian reworked and radically changed this painting, he expressed his own ambivalence through this most ambivalent of Gospel scenes.


Art history Titian Giorgione Sublimation Loss Dream work Sigmund Freud Ernst Kris Noli Me Tangere Mary Magdalene Mourning 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Princeton Theological SeminaryPrincetonUSA

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