Tintoretto, the Venetian Master of the Serenissima


Jacopo Robusti, known as Tintoretto, was a famous 16th century Venetian painter. Inspired by Michelangelo and Titian, he used his passion and hard work to create atypical, disproportionate works. Discover the works of this Venetian master during your Venice city break.

Tintoretto, early genius of Venetian painting.

Jacopo Robusti was born in Venice in 1518. He got his nickname Tintoretto because his father was a dyer (tintore). He learned painting from Titian, of whom he became a pupil at the age of fifteen, but also drew his inspiration from other schools: Florentine, Roman and Parmesan.

The pupil gradually overtook the master, and Titian sent him away because he considered him a competitor! Tintoretto then moved to his own workshop, funded by his father, and continued his learning alone, taking inspiration from his motto “Il disegno di Michelangelo ed il colorito di Tiziano” (Michelangelo's drawing and Titian’s color).

He worked relentlessly, day and night, using wax statues which he lit to analyze the effects of light and shadow and light and dark techniques. He analysed the living, anatomy, bodies in movement….

He began to make himself known by painting portraits and wall decorations in villas. In 1546 he proposed two large works at the Madonna dell’Orto church: the Adoration of the Golden Calf and the Last Judgment. Both of them stand out for their accumulation of characters, their contrasts and their play of lights.

Tintoretto also proved that he could produce more conventional religious paintings, which resulted in him receiving commissions for the Doge's Palace.

It was the beginning of his period of glory, with the production of many works such as the four St. Mark paintings.

In 1560 he was commissioned to decorate San Rocco church and its School, for which he produced sixty-five works.

After the fire that ravaged the Doge's Palace in 1577, a competition was organized to find out which painter would work on the Great Hall. Veronese won the competition, but died before he could start, so it was Tintoretto who, at the age of 70, painted Paradise with the help of his son. This monumental painting, 22 meters long and 10 meters high, contains over five hundred figures.

Towards the end of his life he retired to the convent of San Giorgio Maggiore, for which he produced his "Last Supper". Tintoretto died shortly after its completion, on May 31, 1594, at the age of 76.

Tintoretto and his excessive work.

Tintoretto produced many religious paintings on the life of Jesus and the Virgin Mary, some of them of impressive size. His style is characterized by the dramatic dimension given to the characters and faces he paints, whose bodies and expressions seem to be moving, that sometimes seem to be being tortured.

This imaginative improviser broke the codes of the time, breaking free from established rules and giving free rein to his fiery temper. His paintings are marked by precise work on light and shadows carried out beforehand with wax or terracotta figurines.

His monumental work inspired the greatest painters like Rubens, Velasquez and Delacroix. Tintoretto is the symbol of the transition between the Renaissance and the Baroque styles.

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