Tintoretto (Italian pronunciation: [tintoˈretto]; born Jacopo Comin, late September or early October, 1518 – May 31, 1594) was an Italian painter and a notable exponent of the Venetian school. The speed with which he painted, and the unprecedented boldness of his brushwork, were both admired and criticized by his contemporaries. For his phenomenal energy in painting he was termed Il Furioso. His work is characterised by his muscular figures, dramatic gestures and bold use of perspective, in the Mannerist style.
In his youth, Tintoretto was also known as Jacopo Robusti as his father had defended the gates of Padua in a way that others called robust, against the imperial troops during the War of the League of Cambrai (1509–16). His real name "Comin" was discovered by Miguel Falomir 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.
Detail of a self-portrait
late September or early October 1518
|Died||31 May 1594 (aged 75)|
|Movement||Renaissance, Mannerism, Venetian School|
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. The family was believed to have 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.
In childhood Jacopo, a born painter, began daubing on the dyer's walls; his father, noticing his bent, took him to the studio of Titian to see how far he could be trained as an artist. This was supposedly around 1533, when Titian was (according to the ordinary accounts) over 40 years of age. Tintoretto had only been ten days in the studio when Titian sent him home for good, because the great master observed some very spirited drawings, which he learned to be the production of Tintoretto; it is inferred that he became at once jealous of so promising a student. This, however, is mere conjecture; and perhaps it may be fairer to suppose that the drawings exhibited so much independence of manner that Titian judged that young Jacopo, although he might become a painter, would never be properly a pupil.
From this time forward the two always remained upon distant terms, though Tintoretto being indeed a professed and ardent admirer of Titian, but never a friend, and Titian and his adherents turned a cold shoulder to him. There was also active disparagement, but it passed unnoticed by Tintoretto. The latter sought no further teaching, but studied on his own account with laborious zeal; he lived poorly, collecting casts, bas-reliefs etc., and practising with their aid. His noble conception of art and his high personal ambition were both evidenced in the inscription which he placed over his studio Il disegno di Michelangelo ed il colorito di Tiziano ("Michelangelo's drawing and Titian's color").
He studied more especially from models of Michelangelo's Dawn, Noon, Twilight and Night, and became expert in modelling in wax and clay method (practised likewise by Titian) which afterwards stood him in good stead in working out the arrangement of his pictures. The models were sometimes taken from dead subjects dissected or studied in anatomy schools; some were draped, others nude, and Tintoretto was to suspend them in a wooden or cardboard box, with an aperture for a candle. Now and afterwards he very frequently worked by night as well as by day.
The young painter Andrea Schiavone, four years Tintoretto's junior, was much in his company. Tintoretto helped Schiavone at no charge with wall-paintings; and in many subsequent instances he also worked 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 have both long since perished, as have 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 has also been lost. It was followed by some historical subject, which Titian was candid enough to praise.
One of Tintoretto's early pictures still extant is in the church of the Carmine in Venice, the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple; also in S. Benedetto are the Annunciation and Christ with the Woman of Samaria. For the Scuola della Trinità (the scuole or schools of Venice were confraternities, more in the nature of charitable foundations than of educational institutions) he painted four subjects from Genesis. Two of these, now in the Gallerie dell'Accademia in Venice, are Adam and Eve and the Death of Abel, both noble works of high mastery, which leave us in no doubt that Tintoretto was by this time a consummate painter—one of the few who have attained to the highest eminence in the absence of any recorded formal training.  Up till 2012, The Embarkation of St Helena in the Holy Land was attributed to his contemporary Andrea Schiavone. But new analysis of the work has revealed it as one of a series of three paintings by Tintoretto, depicting the legend of St Helena And The Holy Cross. The error was uncovered during work on a project to catalogue continental European oil paintings in the UK. The Embarkation of St Helena was acquired by the V&A in 1865. Its sister paintings, The Discovery Of The True Cross and St Helen Testing The True Cross, are held in galleries in the US.
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. 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 building, looking over the Fondamenta de Mori, which is still standing. In 1548 he was commissioned for four pictures for the Scuola di S. Marco: the Finding of the body of St Mark, the St Mark's Body Brought to Venice, a St Mark Rescuing a Saracen from Shipwreck and the Miracle of the Slave. (these three are in Gallerie dell'Accademia Venice). The latter 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 well received broadly, and in particular by Tintoretto's friend Pietro Aretino — despite a long-standing dispute between the two. (Tintoretto had painted a ceiling in Aretino's house. Invited, then to paint his portrait, Tintoretto took his sitter's measurements with a stiletto, a none-too-subtle hint at his animosity.) With these four works in the Scuola di S. Marco, Tintoretto's phase of penury and uncertainty was over.
In 1550, Tintoretto married Faustina de Vescovi, daughter of a Venetian nobleman who was the guardian grande of the Scuola Grande di San Marco. She appears to have been a careful housekeeper, and able to mollify her husband. Faustina bore him several children, likely two sons and five daughters. Tintoretto's daughter Marietta Robusti was herself a portrait painter. Some believe she was illegitimate and conceived before his marriage to Faustina.
Between 1565 and 1567, and again from 1575 to 1588, Tintoretto produced a large number of paintings for the walls and ceilings of the Scuola Grande di San Rocco. The building, begun in 1525, lacked light and so was ill-suited for any great scheme of pictorial adornment. The painting of its interior 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.
In 1565 he resumed work at the scuola, painting the Crucifixion, for which a sum of 250 ducats was paid. In 1576 he presented gratis another centre-piece—that for the ceiling of the great hall, representing the Plague of Serpents; and in the following year he completed this ceiling with pictures of the Paschal Feast and Moses striking the Rock accepting whatever pittance the confraternity chose to pay.
The development of fast painting techniques called prestezza allowed him to produce many works while engaged on large projects and to respond to growing demands from the clients.
Tintoretto next launched out into the painting of the entire scuola and of the adjacent church of San Rocco. He offered in November 1577 to execute the works at the rate of 100 ducats per annum, three pictures being due in each year. This proposal was accepted and was punctually fulfilled, the painter's death alone preventing the execution of some of the ceiling-subjects. The whole sum paid for the scuola throughout was 2447 ducats. Disregarding some minor performances, the scuola and church contain fifty-two memorable paintings, which may be described as vast suggestive sketches, with the mastery, but not the deliberate precision, of finished pictures, and adapted for being looked at in a dusky half-light. Adam and Eve, the Visitation, the Adoration of the Magi, the Massacre of the Innocents, the Agony in the Garden, Christ before Pilate, Christ carrying His Cross, and (this alone having been marred by restoration) the Assumption of the Virgin are leading examples in the scuola; in the church, Christ curing the Paralytic.
It was probably in 1560, the year in which he began working in the Scuola di S. Rocco, that Tintoretto commenced his numerous paintings in the Doge's Palace; he then executed there a portrait of the Doge, Girolamo Priuli. Other works (destroyed by a fire in the palace in 1577) succeeded—the Excommunication of Frederick Barbarossa by Pope Alexander III and the Victory of Lepanto. 
After the fire, Tintoretto started afresh, Paolo Veronese being his colleague. In the Sala dell Anticollegio, Tintoretto painted four masterpieces—Bacchus, with Ariadne crowned by Venus, the Three Graces and Mercury, Minerva discarding Mars, and the Forge of Vulcan, which were painted for fifty ducats each, excluding materials, ca. 1578; in the hall of the senate, Venice, Queen of the Sea (1581–84); in the hall of the college, the Espousal of St Catherine to Jesus (1581–84); in the Antichiesetta, St George and St Nicholas, with St Margaret (the female figure is sometimes termed the princess whom St George rescued from the dragon), and St Jerome and St Andrew; in the hall of the great council, nine large compositions, chiefly battle-pieces (1581–84); in the Sala dello Scrutinio the Capture of Zara from the Hungarians in 1346 amid a Hurricane of Missiles (1584–87).
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 by 9.1 metres (74.1 by 29.9 feet), reputed to be the largest painting ever done upon canvas. A painted sketch (143 cm × 362 cm (56 in × 143 in)), now in the Louvre Museum (Paris), was submitted as a proposal by Tintoretto for a picture in the Doge's Palace. The latter is a work so stupendous in scale, so colossal in the sweep of its power, so reckless of ordinary standards of conception or method, 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.
While the commission for this huge work was yet pending and unassigned Tintoretto was wont to tell the senators that he had prayed to God that he might be commissioned for it, so that paradise itself might perchance be his recompense after death. Upon eventually receiving the commission in 1588, he set up his canvas in the Scuola della Misericordia and worked indefatigably at the task, making many alterations and doing various heads and costumes direct from life.
When the picture had been nearly completed he took it to its proper place and there finished it, assisted by his son Domenico for the details of drapery, etc. All Venice applauded the superb achievement, which has since suffered from neglect, but little from restoration. Tintoretto was asked to name his own price, but this he left to the authorities. They tendered a handsome amount; he is said to have abated something from it, an incident perhaps more telling of his lack of greed than earlier cases where he worked for nothing at all.
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 if he had lived a little longer.
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. He died on May 31, 1594. 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.
Marietta had herself been a portrait-painter of considerable skill, as well as a musician, vocalist and instrumentalist, but few of her works are now traceable. It is said that up to the age of fifteen she used to accompany and assist her father at his work, dressed as a boy. Eventually, she married a jeweler, Mario Augusta. In 1866 the grave of the Vescovi—his wife's family—and Tintoretto was opened, and the remains of nine members of the joint families were found in it. The grave was then moved to a new location, to the right of the choir.
Tintoretto had very few pupils; his two sons and Maerten de Vos of Antwerp were among them. His son Domenico Tintoretto frequently assisted his father in the preliminary work for great pictures. He himself painted a multitude of works, many of them of a very large scale. At best, they would be considered mediocre and, coming from the son of Tintoretto, are disappointing. In any event, he must be regarded as a considerable pictorial practitioner in his way. There are reflections of Tintoretto to be found in the Greek painter of the Spanish Renaissance El Greco, who likely saw his works during a stay in Venice.
Tintoretto scarcely ever travelled out of Venice. He loved all the arts and as a youth played the lute and various instruments, some of them of his own invention, and designed theatrical costumes and properties. He was also well versed in mechanics and mechanical devices. While being a very agreeable companion, for the sake of his work he lived in a mostly retired fashion, and even when not painting was wont to remain in his working room surrounded by casts. Here he hardly admitted anyone, even intimate friends, and he kept his work methods secret, shared only with his assistants. He was full of pleasant witty sayings, whether to great personages or to others, but he himself seldom smiled.
Out of doors, his wife made him wear the robe of a Venetian citizen; if it rained she tried to make him wear an outer garment which he resisted. When he left the house, she would also wrap money up for him in a handkerchief, expecting a strict accounting on his return. Tintoretto's customary reply was that he had spent it on alms for the poor or for prisoners.
An agreement is extant showing a plan to finish two historical paintings—each containing twenty figures, seven being portraits—in a two-month period of time. The number of his portraits is enormous; their merit is uneven, but the really fine ones cannot be surpassed. Sebastiano del Piombo remarked that Tintoretto could paint in two days as much as himself in two years; Annibale Carracci that Tintoretto was in many of his pictures equal to Titian, in others inferior to Tintoretto. This was the general opinion of the Venetians, who said that he had three pencils—one of gold, the second of silver and the third of iron.
A comparison of Tintoretto's final The Last Supper with Leonardo da Vinci's treatment of the same subject provides an instructive demonstration of how artistic styles evolved over the course of the Renaissance. Leonardo's is all classical repose. The disciples radiate away from Christ in almost-mathematical symmetry. In the hands of Tintoretto, the same event becomes dramatic, as the human figures are joined by angels. A servant is placed in the foreground, perhaps in reference to the Gospel of John 13:14–16. In the restless dynamism of his composition, his dramatic use of light, and his emphatic perspective effects, Tintoretto seems a baroque artist ahead of his time.
In 2013, the Victoria and Albert Museum announced that the painting The Embarkation of St Helena in the Holy Land had been painted by Tintoretto (and not by his contemporary Andrea Schiavone, as previously thought) as part of a series of three paintings depicting the legend of St Helena And The Holy Cross.
Christ Washing the Disciples' Feet was a favourite theme of Tintoretto, and there are at least six known works by him on the subject. The scene comes from a passage in John 13 where before the Last Supper Christ washes the feet of his disciples. This passage called for a complex image with many characters in a variety of poses and motions, and the diversity and challenge attracted Tintoretto. The paintings were commissioned for various churches of Venice, though since then four of the six have left Italy.Danaë (Tintoretto)
Danaë is a c.1570 painting by Tintoretto showing Danaë. It was acquired by the Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon in 1811 and still hangs there.Domenico Tintoretto
Domenico Robusti, also known as Domenico Tintoretto, (1560 – 17 May 1635) was an Italian painter from Venice. He grew up under the tutelage of his father, the renowned painter Jacopo Tintoretto.Esterhazy Madonna
The Esterhazy Madonna is a 1508 painting by Raphael, held at the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest, in Hungary. It was stolen on the night of 5 November 1983, along with other works by Raphael, Giorgione, Tintoretto and Tiepolo - all the works, including this one, were recovered by the Italian Carabinieri in an abandoned Greek convent near Aigio.Gallerie dell'Accademia
The Gallerie dell'Accademia is a museum gallery of pre-19th-century art in Venice, northern Italy. It is housed in the Scuola della Carità on the south bank of the Grand Canal, within the sestiere of Dorsoduro. It was originally the gallery of the Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia, the art academy of Venice, from which it became independent in 1879, and for which the Ponte dell'Accademia and the Accademia boat landing station for the vaporetto water bus are named. The two institutions remained in the same building until 2004, when the art school moved to the Ospedale degli Incurabili.Last Supper (Tintoretto)
The Last Supper is a painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Jacopo Tintoretto. An oil painting on canvas executed in 1592–94, it is housed in the Basilica di San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice, northern Italy.Madonna and Child with Saints (Tintoretto)
Madonna and Child with Saints is a c.1545-1546 oil on canvas painting by Tintoretto, now in the musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon.
The costume of the kneeling Catherine of Alexandria in the centre probably means the artist tried to paint the Doge Francesco Donato in the centre of the canvas to fit in with the terms of his commission, but replaced his face with that of the saint when that attempt failed. Between her and the Madonna is Augustine of Hippo, whilst behind Catherine are Mark the Evangelist (standing) and John the Baptist (seated with the Lamb of God).Marietta Robusti
Marietta Robusti (1560? – 1590) was a Venetian painter of the Renaissance period. She was the daughter of Tintoretto and is sometimes referred to as Tintoretta.Miracle of the Slave (Tintoretto)
The Miracle of the Slave (also known as The Miracle of St. Mark, 1548) is a painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Jacopo Tintoretto. Currently housed in the Gallerie dell'Accademia in Venice, northern Italy, it was originally commissioned for the Scuola Grande di San Marco, a confraternity in the city.
It portrays an episode of the life of Saint Mark, patron saint of Venice, taken from Jacopo da Varazze's Golden Legend. The scene shows, in the upper part, the saint intervening to make invulnerable a slave about to be martyred for his veneration of another saint's relics. All the figures are inscribed into an architectonic scenario.
Different influences on Tintoretto's art can be seen in the picture: while the anatomies are Michelangelo-like, the vivid and intense colors are typical of the Venetian School.Saint George and the Dragon (Tintoretto)
Saint George and the Dragon or Saint George Killing the Dragon is a 1555 or 1558 painting by the Venetian artist Tintoretto. It was later acquired by the English collector William Holwell Carr, who bequeathed it to the National Gallery, where it now hangs.Scuola Grande di San Rocco
The Scuola Grande di San Rocco is a building in Venice, northern Italy. It is noted for its collection of paintings by Tintoretto and generally agreed to include some of his finest work.Self Portrait (Tintoretto)
Self Portrait is a self-portrait by Tintoretto, dating to around 1588. It was bought for Marie Antoinette with the chateau de Saint-Cloud in 1785. It is now in the Louvre.St Mark's Body Brought to Venice
St Mark's Body Brought to Venice, The Abduction of the Body of Saint Mark or Translation of the Body of Saint Mark is a painting by Tintoretto. It was produced between 1562 and 1566 as part of a series of works on Saint Mark for the Sala Capitolare of the Scuola Grande di San Marco - the others were Miracle of the Slave and Finding of the body of St Mark. It is now held in the Gallerie dell'Accademia in Venice.The painting is notable for its striking, deep perspective background lines. The colours are darker in the near subjects, while the figures in the background are white, nearly transparent. The strange red sky is roiling with ominous clouds, riven with a thunderbolt, affording the painting a heavy, dynamic atmosphere. Tintoretto himself is portrayed within the work as the bearded man beside the camel.Susanna and the Elders (Tintoretto)
Susanna and the Elders is a painting by Venetian painter Jacopo Robusti (1518–1594). Robusti, also known as Tintoretto or Il Furioso, for the energy and "fury" with which he painted, depicted both sacred and profane subjects in a period known as the Venetian “golden century”.Susanna and the Elders (c. 1555–56) depicts a scene from the biblical episode of Susanna, from the Book of Daniel.
The painting shows Susanna, a young married woman, sitting on the edge of a small pool, preparing to take a bath. She is watched by two elderly men, acquaintances of her husband, who desire her. The lustful elders are depicted in the painting hiding behind a rose trellis in her garden. They are watching and spying on her, trying to find an opportunity to catch her alone in the garden.
The story of Susanna and the elders was frequently depicted in art history. The painting is full of symbols. The objects beside the main figure included white pearls, silver jewelry, a silk shawl, and a silver jug. The painting is considered one of Tintoretto's "masterpieces".The Deliverance of Arsinoe
The Deliverance of Arsinoe is a 1555-56 painting by Tintoretto, now in the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden. It shows Arsinoe IV of Egypt fleeing from Alexandria after Julius Caesar arrived in the city in 48 BC and sided with Arsinoe's half-sister Cleopatra.The Muses (painting)
The Muses is a 1578 painting by Tintoretto showing the Muses from Greek mythology.
It is recorded in the inventory of the collection of Guglielmo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua in 1627 as hanging alongside Esther before Ahasuerus in a passage in the Palazzo Ducale in Mantua. It was acquired from the Gonzagas by Charles I of Great Britain. On his execution it was valued at £80 and sold, before being reacquired by the royal family on the Restoration. It now hangs in Kensington Palace.The Origin of the Milky Way (Tintoretto)
The Origin of the Milky Way is a painting by the Italian late Renaissance master Jacopo Tintoretto, in the National Gallery, London, formerly in the Orleans Collection. It is an oil painting on canvas, and dates from ca.1575–1580.
According to myth, the infant Heracles was brought to Hera by his half-sister Athena, who later played an important role as a goddess of protection. Hera nursed Heracles out of pity, but he suckled so strongly that he caused Hera pain, and she pushed him away. Her milk sprayed across the heavens and there formed the Milky Way. With divine milk, Heracles acquired supernatural powers.The Vision of Saint Nicholas (Tintoretto)
The Vision of Saint Nicholas is a c.1582 painting by the Italian artist Tintoretto. It is now in Novo Mesto Cathedral in Slovenia. Giovanni VI Grimani, patriarch of Aquileia and provost Polidoro de Montagnana acquired it to stand on the new high altarpiece in the cathedral, built after it was severely damaged by fire in 1576.
It shows the city's patron saint, Saint Nicholas, with Saint Mohor and his deacon Saint Fortunatus, both martyred at Aquileia in 305.Venetian school (art)
From the latter part of the 15th century, Venice had a distinctive, thriving, and influential artistic environment. Beginning with the work of Giovanni Bellini (c. 1430–1516) and his brother Gentile Bellini (c. 1429–1507) and their workshops, the major artists of the Venetian school included Giorgione (c. 1477–1510), Titian (c. 1489–1576), Tintoretto (1518–1594), Paolo Veronese (1528–1588) and Jacopo Bassano (1510–1592) and his brothers. Considered to give primacy of colour over line, the tradition of the Venetian school contrasted with the Mannerism prevalent in the rest of Italy. The Venetian style exerted great influence upon the subsequent development of Western painting.