Tintoretto - Portrait of a Woman revealing her Breasts
Tintoretto, Jacopo - Adam and Eve
Jacopo Tintoretto, Christ before Pilate (1566-67).
Oil on canvas, 515 x 380 cm. Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice.
Tintoretto, Judith and Holofernes (c.1579)
oil on canvas (188 x 251 cm), Museo del Prado.
Tintoretto (Italian pronunciation: [tintoˈretto]; September 29, 1518 – May 31, 1594), real name Jacopo Comin, was a Venetian painter and a notable exponent of the Renaissance school. For his phenomenal energy in painting he was termed Il Furioso. His work is characterized by its muscular figures, dramatic gestures and bold use of perspective in the Mannerist style, while maintaining color and light typical of the Venetian School.
In his youth, Tintoretto was also known as Jacopo Robusti as his father had defended the gates of Padua in a rather robust way against the imperial troops during the War of the League of Cambrai (1509–1516). His real name “Comin” has only recently been discovered by Miguel Falomir, the curator of the Museo del Prado, Madrid, and was made public on the occasion of the retrospective of Tintoretto at the Prado in 2007. Comin translates to the spice cumin in the local language.
Tintoretto was born in Venice in 1518, as the eldest of 21 children. His father, Giovanni, was a dyer, or tintore; hence the son got the nickname of Tintoretto, little dyer, or dyer’s boy, which is anglicized as Tintoret. The family originated from Brescia, in Lombardy, then part of the Republic of Venice. Older studies gave the Tuscan town of Lucca as the origin of the family.
The young painter Andrea Schiavone, four years Tintoretto’s junior, was much in his company. Tintoretto helped Schiavone gratis in wall-paintings; and in many subsequent instances he worked also for nothing, and thus succeeded in obtaining commissions. The two earliest mural paintings of Tintoretto—done, like others, for next to no pay—are said to have been Belshazzar’s Feast and a Cavalry Fight. These are both long since perished, as are all his frescoes, early or later. The first work of his to attract some considerable notice was a portrait-group of himself and his brother—the latter playing a guitar—with a nocturnal effect; this also is lost. It was followed by some historical subject, which Titian was candid enough to praise.
Towards 1546 Tintoretto painted for the church of the Madonna dell’Orto three of his leading works - the Worship of the Golden Calf, the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple, and the Last Judgment now shamefully repainted. He took the commission for two of the paintings, the Worship of the Golden Calf and the Last Judgment, on a cost only basis in order to make himself better known. He settled down in a house hard by the church. It is a Gothic edifice, looking over the Fondamenta de Mori, which is still standing. In 1548 he was commissioned for four pictures in the Scuola di S. Marco: the Finding of the body of St Mark in Alexandria (now in the church of the Angeli, Murano), the Saint’s Body brought to Venice, a Votary of the Saint delivered by invoking him from an Unclean Spirit (these two are in the library of the royal palace, Venice), and the Miracle of the Slave. The latter, which forms at present one of the chief glories of the Venetian Academy, represents the legend of a Christian slave or captive who was to be tortured as a punishment for some acts of devotion to the evangelist, but was saved by the miraculous intervention of the latter, who shattered the bone-breaking and blinding implements which were about to be applied.
These four works were greeted with signal and general applause, including that of Titian’s intimate, the too potent Pietro Aretino, with whom Tintoretto, one of the few men who scorned to curry favor with him, was mostly in disrepute.
The next conspicuous event in the professional life of Tintoretto is his enormous labor and profuse self-development on the walls and ceilings of the Scuola Grande di San Rocco. The building had been begun in 1525, and was very deficient in light, so it happened to be particularly ill-suited for any great scheme of pictorial adornment. The painting of its interior was commenced in 1560.
In that year five principal painters, including Tintoretto and Paolo Veronese, were invited to send in trial-designs for the centre-piece in the smaller hall named Sala dell’Albergo, the subject being S. Rocco received into Heaven. Tintoretto produced not a sketch but a picture, and got it inserted into its oval. The competitors remonstrated, not unnaturally; but the artist, who knew how to play his own game, made a free gift of the picture to the saint, and, as a bylaw of the foundation prohibited the rejection of any gift, it was retained in situ, Tintoretto furnishing gratis the other decorations of the same ceiling.
The crowning production of Tintoretto’s life, the last picture of any considerable importance which he executed, was the vast Paradise, in size 22.6 x 9.1 metres (74 ft. by 30 ft), reputed to be the largest painting ever done upon canvas. A painted sketch (143 x 362 cm), held in the Louvre Museum (Paris), was submitted as a proposal by Tintoretto for a picture in the Ducal Palace in Venice. It is a work so stupendous in scale, so colossal in the sweep of its power, so reckless of ordinary standards of conception or method, so pure an inspiration of a soul burning with passionate visual imagining and a hand magical to work in shape and colour, that it has defied the connoisseurship of three centuries, and has generally (though not with its first Venetian contemporaries) passed for an eccentric failure; while to a few eyes it seems to be so transcendent a monument of human faculty applied to the art pictorial as not to be viewed without awe.
After the completion of the Paradise Tintoretto rested for a while, and he never undertook any other work of importance, though there is no reason to suppose that his energies were exhausted had his days been a little prolonged. In 1592 he became a member of the Scuola dei Mercanti.
In 1594, he was seized with severe stomach pains, complicated with fever, that prevented him from sleeping and almost from eating for a fortnight. Finally, on May 31, 1594 he died. He was buried in the church of the Madonna dell’Orto by the side of his favorite daughter Marietta, who had died in 1590 at the age of thirty. Tradition suggests that as she lay in her final repose, her heart-stricken father had painted her final portrait.
Jacopo Robusti, called Tintoretto - Susanna Bathing (or Susanne and the Elders) (c.1560)
Jacopo Tintoretto, The Last Supper, c.a. 1590-1594,
Oil on canvas, San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice
From the book, The Power of Art, by Richard Lewis and Susan L. Lewis:
In the foreground of the picture, Tintotretto has added everyday events, like the servants learning away food and a cat looking into a basket. This normal scene makes the rest of the picture seem even more miraculous by comparison. In his painting,Tintoretto has chosen to focus not not the human drama of the betrayal of Judas but on the supernatural meaning of the Last Supper.
Tintoretto - Mercury and the Three Graces
Tintoretto. The murder of Abel by Kain.
Tintoretto (1518-1594), Danaë, 1577-78,
Musée des beaux-arts de Lyon.