TintorettoHis name was Jacopo (alternatively spelt Jacomo, Iacomo or Giacomo) Robusti. He was called Il Tentoretto or Tintoretto from the trade of his father, Giovanni Battista Robusti, a textile-dyer from Brescia. His father is said to have acquired the name 'Robusti' because of the robustness with which he and his brother fought at the Siege of Padua (1509). The family name may originally have been 'Comin', but Jacopo is not known to have used that name. He was born in Venice. His date of birth (deduced from a death certificate which gives his age as seventy-five) is given either as 1518 or 1519. Nothing is known for certain of his training. Raffaello Borghini, a contemporary, states that he modelled his draughtsmanship on Michelangelo (whose works he would have known through engravings, casts or models) and his colouring on Titian. Ridolfi, writing fifty years after his death, claims that he was a pupil of Titian for a short time and an assistant of the Dalmatian-born painter Andrea Schiavone. He was an independent painter by January 1538 with a workshop in the Campo San Cassiano.
The earliest painting generally ascribed to Tintoretto is the ‘Molin Sacra Conversazione’ (now in an American private collection), which is signed ‘JACHOBUS’ and dated 1540. Although many other pictures are attributed to him as early works, none is documented before 1545, when he painted a pair of ceiling canvases (one of which is now in the Wadsworth Atheneum at Hartford) for Pietro Aretino’s house. A radical reappraisal of Tintoretto's early paintings was published in 1995 by the American art historian Robert Echols. Many works usually ascribed to the young Tintoretto were reassigned to Giovanni Galizzi – a little known Bergamasque painter active in Venice from 1543 to 1565. These reattributions, significantly contracting Tintoretto's early oeuvre, remain controversial.
Tintoretto established his reputation in 1548 with the dramatic St Mark freeing the Slave for the Scuola Grande di San Marco. He spent almost his entire career in Venice, producing a huge number of large altarpieces and religious narratives for churches and confraternities. He seems to have competed for commissions through low prices and quick delivery, and he was prepared to modify his style to satisfy the wishes of his patrons (Ridolfi and Boschini give instances of deliberate imitation of the styles of Schiavone and Veronese). He worked for no less than ten different scuole del sacramento (parish confraternities devoted to the Eucharist), for whom he painted Last Suppers and Washings of Feet. He began his long association with the Scuola Grande di San Rocco in 1564, becoming a member in 1565. The stupendous cycle of sixty-four canvases, covering the walls of all three of the Scuola’s halls and the ceilings of the two upper halls, was completed in 1588. After Titian’s death in 1576, Tintoretto’s patronage widened, with commissions from the court of Emperor Rudolph II at Prague (about 1577-78), the Gonzaga court at Mantua (1578-80) and Philip II of Spain (1583 and 1587), and he was heavily involved in the decoration of the Doge’s Palace after the disastrous fires of 1574 and 1577. By the late 1570s, he had come to rely heavily on assistants to execute his compositions.
His early assistants are unknown, apart from the Flemish painter Maarten de Vos, who passed through his studio in the early 1550s. Later, he was assisted by his illegitimate daughter Marietta (c.1554-90) and sons Domenico (c.1560-1635) and Marco (1561-1637). His expanding (and cosmopolitan) circle also included the Greek Antonio Vassilacchi (called Aliense), the Flemings Lambert Sustris, Paolo Fiammingo and Ludovico Pozzoserrato, and the Italian Andrea Michieli (called Vicentino). Many of the paintings ascribed to Tintoretto in catalogues and collections are probably the productions of workshop assistants, followers or imitators.
His pictures are remarkable for their epic scale, vigorous brushwork and rapidity of execution, violent movement and daring foreshortenings. His compositions are often highly inventive, with unusual viewpoints and contrasts of scale. (Ridolfi reports seeing little models in wax and clay in Tintoretto's workshop, which he thought were evidence that Tintoretto had used a box-like puppet theatre to stage his compositions.) He used colour to create tension and emotion, with dramatic contrasts of light and dark and incandescent highlights. Although basically a religious painter, he occasionally painted mythologies and allegories. He is known to have painted at least eleven façade frescoes in Venice, but these have all totally disappeared (apart from some fragments from the Ca' Soranzo in a private collection). More than 150 portraits have been attributed to him, although many of these are routine paintings of Venetian senators and magistrates from his workshop. His finest portraits, typically minimalist in composition and muted in colour, are often of very old men, whom he depicts with both unflinching candour and sympathy. His own very late self-portrait in the Louvre is an especially poignant example. Tintoretto's pictures were generally painted on dark grounds of charcoal black, grey, brown or grey-green. Always dark in tone, they have often become darker still as upper paint layers and surface glazes have worn thin or been removed by aggressive cleaning.
Tintoretto died on 31 May 1594, following a 'fever of fifteen days', and was buried in his local church of Madonna dell’ Orto. He may have painted as many as 600-700 pictures in a career spanning some 55 years. There are records of his works in more than forty Venetian churches, and he is known to have worked for twenty-seven Venetian confraternities. He also painted more pictures for the Venetian State than any other sixteenth-century artist. However, he never became rich, and in 1600 his widow Faustina pleaded to the Venetian State for support for her family. His workshop on the Fondamenta dei Mori continued to function until 1678, carried on first by his son Domenico and then by the Swiss-born artist Sebastiano Casser (a former pupil of Domenico who married Jacopo's widowed sixty-five-year-old fourth daughter Ottavia).
Adria (70 km south of Venice). Municipio.
Portrait of Luigi Groto. Canvas, 91 x 101.
Luigi Groto, known as ‘Il Cieco d’Adria’ (‘the Blind Man of Adria’), was born in 1541 and lost his sight just days after his birth. Despite his blindness, he was a composer of verses, a playwright, singer, lute player, orator and actor. He wrote to Tintoretto in July 1582 to thank him for his portrait. His letter praises the painter as surpassing any ancient artist in his ability to capture a likeness, and ends by asking if he can hang the portrait in his house, so that, when his life comes to an end, Death will not know which to take – Groto himself or the portrait. The version now at Adria was given to the Municipio by the Bocchi family. Formerly thought to be Tintoretto's original, it may be no more than an old copy.
Portrait of Ottavio Strada. Canvas, 128 x 101.
The inscription (upper left) identifies the youthful sitter and his age (18). Ottavio Strada (1550-1607) was the son of the famous art dealer Jacopo Strada, whom he succeeded as antiquarian to the emperor. He is shown receiving antique gold coins from Fortune, who pours them into his hand from a cornucopia. He holds a small headless and armless statuette in his other hand, and there is a life-size statue of Venus to his right. The ruins of a vaulted classical building are seen in the distance. The portrait was almost certainly painted in 1567-68 when Ottavio visited Venice with his father. The companion portrait of Jacopo, painted by Titian at the same time, is in Vienna.
The quality seems hardly up to Tintoretto's highest standard, and an attribution to his daughter, Marietta Robusti, has been proposed (originally by Erica Tietze-Conrat in a 1934 issue of the Gazette des Beaux-Arts). Marietta painted a portrait of Jacopo Strada according to Ridolfi – who could, it was conjectured, have confused the identities of father and son. However, as no paintings certainly by Marietta are known, attributions to her are hypothetical. The attribution to Tintoretto himself is supported by X-ray evidence, which reveals underdrawing – rapidly sketched in white paint – that is typical of the artist and shows considerable changes in the composition during the execution of the portrait. The picture was once in the celebrated collection of Richard von Kaufmann (sold at Berlin in 1917) and was later owned by the Dutch businessman and arms dealer Daniël Wolf. After the German invasion of the Netherlands, it passed into the hands of Herman Göring. It was returned to Wolf's heirs after the War and bought by the Rijksmuseum for 50,000 guilders in 1956. The paint surface has been flattened by relining.
Angel Gabriel; Virgin Annunciate. Canvas, each 115 x 93.
Considerably cut down. The Virgin has been retouched and the white dove added later. The two canvases decorated the inside of the organ doors of the church of San Benedetto at Venice (which was rebuilt in 1619-29). Two canvases now in the Uffizi, representing Christ and the Samaritan Woman, decorated the outside of the doors. The four canvases remained in situ until the 1730s, when they were sold to pay for the restoration of the church organ. They came into the possession of the philosopher and art critic Count Algarotti and were later in the collection of the Princes Torlonia. The two canvases representing the Annunciation came to the Rijksmuseum from the collection of the Swiss doctor Otto Lanz, who lived in Amsterdam in a grand house near the museum. After Lanz's death in 1935, his pictures were loaned to the museum by his widow. They were acquired in 1941 for Adolf Hitler's Führermuseum, but were returned to the Rijksmuseum after the War. Ridolfi describes the organ doors near to the beginning of his Life of Tintoretto, and older critics considered them early works, but Pallucchini and Rossi date them quite late (about 1580).
Christ and the Adulteress. Canvas, 160 x 225.
The subject, popular in Venice at this time, is from John: 8, 1-11. The setting is the temple in Jerusalem, where Christ had been teaching. The Pharisees have brought before him a woman caught committing adultery – an offence punishable by stoning. Asked for his judgement, Christ directs his reply to the self-righteous accusers, saying: 'He who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her'. One of half-dozen large oblong pictures of this subject attributed to Tintoretto; others are at Copenhagen, Dresden, Prague Castle, Milan (Pinacoteca Arcivescovile), and Rome (Palazzo Barberini). All have different compositions. Most are considered very early: the Amsterdam version shows the influence of Schiavone and probably dates from the mid-1540s. Bequeathed to the Rijksmuseum in 1941 with the collection of the Dutch sugar magnate Edwin vom Rath.
Muse with a Lute. Canvas, 119 x 84.
A fragment cut from the bottom left corner of a large canvas showing the Nine Muses. A complete version of the composition is at Hampton Court. From the collection of the Amsterdam surgeon Otto Lanz (sold by his widow to Hitler in 1941 but restored to the Rijksmuseum in 1948).
Antwerp. Rubenshuis (on long-term loan from June 2017).
Saint Catherine of Alexandria with an Angel. Canvas, 177 x 99.
St Catherine, kneeling on the step of a classical temple and holding a crucifix, is warned by an angel of her impending martyrdom. Putti overhead display her spiked wheel and martyr's palm. The picture was probably produced in Tintoretto's prolific workshop around the late 1570s; the master's own share in the execution is likely to have been slight. It was commissioned by the Scuola di Santa Caterina for an altar in San Geminiano – a small church on the west side of St Mark's Square, facing the Basilica. After the church was demolished in 1807, the picture was taken to the Accademia and then passed into the collection of Thomas Henry Hastings Davies, a distinguished veteran of the Napoleonic Wars. It remained with the Davies family at Elmley Castle, Worcestershire, until 1957, when it was sold (as 'Tintoretto') for £1,100 at Christie's. It later belonged to David Bowie, who loaned it in 1990-92 to the Bowes Museum at Barnard Castle. It was sold (as 'Tintoretto and Studio') for £191,000 when the late musician's collection was auctioned at Sotheby's in November 2016. The anonymous buyer immediately announced his intention to place the picture on loan with the Rubenshuis.
Bamberg (Germany). Obere Pfarrkirche. Right aisle.
Assumption of the Virgin. Canvas, 437 x 265.
Awestruck apostles watch as the Virgin is lifted from her tomb by angels and transported to heaven. The presence of Christ, plunging down to greet the Virgin, was without obvious precedent in representations of the Assumption, and may have been suggested by Pietro Aretino's Vita di Maria Vergine (1539), which imagines a reunion between Christ and the Virgin in the form of a mystical marriage. The book open on the step of the tomb has been identified as the 1538 edition of Fra Santi Marmochino's vernacular Bible. This large altarpiece is thought to be the first version of a picture commissioned around the mid-1550s for the high altar of the Venetian church of Santa Maria dei Crociferi (now Gesuiti). It is not known why Tintoretto painted two versions of the altarpiece – but it is suspected that the patrons or Church authorities rejected the first version because of its unsual, asymmetric composition or unorthodox iconography. Tintoretto's second version, which is still in the Venetian church, is a more conventional treatment of the subject. The Bamberg Assumption has been recorded in the German city since 1638. Previously little known, it attracted attention in the 1980s and was restored in 1986.
Barcelona. Museu de Arte de Catalunya.
Portrait of Alessandro Gritti. Canvas, 100 x 75.
Alessandro Gritti (1506-82), identified by the coat-of-arms at the left edge of the picture, was a candidate for Doge in 1578, losing to Nicolò da Ponte. In the same year he was elected Procurator de Ultra, and the portrait is recorded still hanging in the Procuratoria in 1772. It must date from the late 1570s or early1580s. Acquired by the Catalan politician Francesc Cambó in about 1937 from the Sohn-Rethel collection at Dusseldorf. Bequeathed in 1947.
Portrait of a Young Man. Canvas (mounted in panel), 103 x 83.
The confident youth, stylishly dressed in a black cap and gold-embroidered velvet doublet with silk sleeves, poses with his left hand on his waist and right arm resting upon a desk. Stylistically similar to the Portrait of a Young Man, dated 1554, in the Barber Institute, Birmingham. A monogram engraved on the back shows that the picture once belonged to the Marqués del Carpio, Spanish ambassador to Rome and later Viceroy of Naples, who was an enthusiastic collector of Tintoretto’s works and purchased what remained of the paintings and drawings from the artist’s workshop in 1682. Formerly in the collection of the Gil family of Barcelona, it was placed on loan with the museum in 1922 and acquired by the museum in 1944.
St Roch and the Plague-Stricken. Canvas, 320 x 195.
Christ appears in a blaze of light to St Roch as he ministers to plague victims. An altarpiece from Bari Cathedral, where it was discovered (rolled up in storage) in 1830. Transferred to the gallery in 1928. The picture bears a false signature and the date 159[?]. It has been often called a studio work or ascribed to Domenico Tintoretto, but may have been underestimated because of its poor condition. Previously very dark, it was cleaned in 2009-10, and subsequently published as an autograph late work by the gallery's director Clara Gelao (Il Tintoretto Ritrovato (2010)).
Belgrade. National Museum of Serbia.
Madonna and Child with Senator. Canvas, 158 in dia.
This large circular painting is probably about contemporary with the Madonna and Child with Three Saints and Three Treasurers of 1566 in the Venice Accademia. Before the War, it was in the hands of the famous dealer Alessandro Contini Bonacossi, who sold it to Hermann Goering in 1942 for 1.35 million lire. It went to Yugoslavia in mysterious circumstances after the War. (It appears to have been one of many displaced paintings obtained fraudulently by the Croatian art dealer and collector Ante Topic Mimara, who presented the American authorities at the Central Collecting Point at Munich with fabricated documentation that the artworks had been looted from Yugoslavia by the Nazis.) It is one of eight paintings in the Belgrade museum subject to a current restitution claim. (In November 2018, an Italian judge ordered the seizure of the paintings, but it is uncertain whether any action will follow.)
Madonna and Saints. Canvas, 228 x 160.
The Virgin is represented in the sky on a crescent moon and is crowned with stars – an allusion to the Woman of the Apocalypse (Revelation: xii, 1) with whom the Virgin was generally identified. The Evangelists St Mark (with lion) and St Luke (with bull) are seated on the ground. Presumably an altarpiece, though nothing is known of its history before 1841, when it was acquired in Italy by the German art historian Gustav Waagen for the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV. It may date from the early 1570s.
St Mark with Three Treasurers. Canvas, 208 x 177.
St Mark, counting on his fingers and with his Gospel open on his knee, is seated on a stone pedestal, which bears the escutcheons of the three treasurers and the admonitory motto 'Pensate la Fin' ('Consider the end'). The pedestal also bears the date 1569, the year the three treasurers (Marco da Molin, Carlo Cornaro and Niccolò Zane) took office. From the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi – the Venetian treasury, for which Tintoretto (and his workshop) painted many official group portraits. The Santa Giustina and the Treasurers (Museo Correr, Venice, dated 1580) was possibly a pendant. Also acquired by Waagen in Italy in 1841.
*Portrait of Giovanni Mocenigo. Canvas, 59 x 45.
One of Tintoretto's finest portraits. Typically for Tintoretto, the details of the face – veined forehead, rheumy eyes, sunken cheeks and coarse hairs of the long white beard – are rendered with care, while the costume is conveyed more broadly. The sitter was identified as Giovanni Mocenigo (1508-80), brother of Doge Alvise, by Pallucchini (1954), on the basis of a resemblance to a slightly younger portrait in the large votive picture of Doge Alvise and his family at Washington. To judge from his age, the portrait probably dates from the late 1570s. Formerly in an Hungarian private collection, it was acquired by the Berlin museum in 1908 on the British art market. It was among the art treasures discovered by the American army in April 1945 in the salt mines at Kaiseroda. Returned to Berlin from the United States in 1949.
Besançon. Musée des Beaux-Arts.
Portrait of a Young Gentleman. Canvas, 110 x 90.
Short-haired and bearded, wearing a fur-trimmed black robe and holding a pair of gloves in his left hand, he is shown three-quarter-length, turned towards the viewer, with a landscape viewed through a window in the left background. The same compositional formula was used by Tintoretto for many portraits (the earliest dated example being the Man aged Twenty-Eight at Stuttgart, which is inscribed with the date March (or May) 1548). The letters 'MA/NV/NO' (lower right) might be an abbreviation of the sitter's name. Bequeathed to the museum in 1894 with the collection of the painter and illustrator Jean Gigoux (now probably best known for having Balzac's widow, Eveline Hánska, as his long-term mistress).
Birmingham. Barber Institute.
Portrait of a Young Gentleman. Canvas, 121 x 93.
The fashionably dressed bearded young man, life-size and three-quarter length, poses with a swagger, his right hand on his hip and his left, holding a glove, resting near his sword hilt. The inscription in the top right corner states that the portrait was painted ‘in the year 1554, in the month of May (or March), in the 22nd year of his age’. The portrait was published by Tancred Borenius in an article in the October 1937 Burlington Magazine, and was bought by the Barber Institute the same year for £2,000 from Franz (Francis) Drey (a Jewish art dealer and collector, who ran a gallery in London after fleeing from Munich).
Birmingham (Alabama). Museum of Art.
Vigilance. Canvas, 107 x 102.
The subject – a female figure with a cock – has also been interpreted as Aurora (Dawn). One of a series of allegorical female figures. One in the Fogg Museum, Cambridge (Mass.), is thought to represent Fidelity. Two others, formerly in the collection of Baron Louis Rothschild at Vienna, are thought to represent Generosity and Liberty. Ascribed by Pallucchini and Rossi (1982) to Domenico Tintoretto – an attribution now adopted by the museum. From the collection of Achillito Chiesa, an Argentine shipping magnate living in Milan, who got into financial trouble in the mid-1920s and sold many of his pictures to the dealer Alessandro Contini Bonacossi. Acquired by Kress in 1939 and donated to the Birmingham museum in 1961.
Bologna. Pinacoteca Nazionale.
Visitation. Canvas, 250 x 146.
The subject is from Luke: 1, 39-40. The elderly St Elizabeth greets her young cousin at the entrance to her house (which is next to a classical ruin). Joseph follows the Virgin up the hill and Elizabeth's husband Zacharias (Zechariah) stands on the right in his priests' robes. An altarpiece from the Dominican convent church of San Pietro Martire in Bologna, where it is first recorded in the seventeenth century. Transferred to the Pinacoteca after the convent was closed in 1798 during the Napoleonic suppressions. Probably relatively early (about 1550?).
Bologna. Collezioni Comunali a’Arte (Palazzo d’Accursio).
Head of Old Man. Canvas, 48 x 57.
The old, white-haired sitter somewhat resembles the Old Man of 68 in the portrait by Tintoretto at Brescia. Probably fairly late (1570s?).
Boston. Gardner Museum.
Wedding Feast at Cana. Canvas, 73 x 75.
This smallish canvas, summarily executed in a sketchy technique, has often been considered an authentic early Tintoretto and dated around the mid-1540s. The attribution was accepted, for example, in Hendy's 1931 and 1974 museum catalogues and in Pallucchini and Rossi's 1982 monograph. However, the picture was omitted from Berenson's Lists, relegated to the section on 'other works attributed to Tintoretto' in De Vecchi's Opera Completa (1970), and assigned to 'Tintoretto's circle' in Echols and Ilchman's Towards a New Tintoretto Catalogue (2009). Mrs Gardner bought the picture in 1905 for the substantial price of $3,500 from her long-time friend and mentor, the Harvard professor Charles Eliot Norton. It hangs in the chapel at Fenway Court.
Boston. Fine Arts Museum.
Nativity. Canvas, 156 x 358.
The Virgin and St Joseph kneel in adoration on the left; the two figures on the right might be St Anne and Joachim (the Virgin's parents), St Elizabeth and Zacharias (the Baptist's parents) or St Anne or Elizabeth and a shepherd. In the upper corners are small scenes of the Procession of the Magi and Annunciation to the Shepherds. This large horizontal canvas is said to have come from a church near Florence. It was acquired (possibly in 1874) by the Boston businessman and philanthropist Quincy Adams Shaw, whose son bequeathed it to the museum in 1946. It has been sometimes regarded as only a studio work, with Pallucchini and Rossi (1982) seeing the hand of Domenico Tintoretto. Following recent restoration and technical analysis, the museum has concluded that the picture was executed by more than one artist and in two distinct stages. The figures of the Virgin, St Anne(?) and the shepherd(?) are attributed to Tintoretto himself and dated to the late1550s, while much of the rest of the picture appears to have been painted later by workshop assistants. It has been conjectured that the picture might be the Nativity, mentioned in Borghini's Il Riposo (1584), that was painted by Tintoretto for the high altar of San Marco, where it would have served as a temporary cover for the Pala d'Oro. (See the entry by Frederick Ilchman and Robert Wald in the catalogue of the Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese exhibition held at Boston in 2009.)
Old Man. Canvas, 118 x 99.
The white-bearded man is shown three-quarter length, wearing a long black coat lined with ermine. An inscription gives the unknown sitter’s age: 68. A mature work (1570s?). From the collection of the Brescian aristocrat Paolo Brognoli. A bust-length version, published by Pallucchini and Rossi (1982) as an autograph replica, was auctioned at Sotheby's in 2003.
Brescia. Santuario di Sant’Angela Merici. Apse.
Transfiguration. Canvas, 465 x 300.
Christ ('white and glistening') in the centre; Moses on the left; Elijah on the right; and the three apostles (James, Peter and John) below, dazzled by the vision. Tintoretto's only known painting of this subject. It is recorded by Ridolfi (1642) in the church (which was formerly called Sant’Afra and has been rebuilt since the war). It is now located behind the high altar. Signed (bottom right). Probably very late (towards 1590) and, as with other altarpieces destined for other cities, the execution seems to have been delegated to assistants. There is a small oil sketch of the composition (apparently unpublished) in the Museo Diocesano at Brescia.
Brunswick. Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum.
The Return of Pompey after the Battle of Pharsalus(?). Canvas, 148 x 241.
A knight in armour and three young women rush towards a woman who is about to collapse. Traditionally called Aeneas leaving Dido. The present title refers to an episode in Lucan's epic poem Pharsalia, which chronicles the great Roman civil war between Pompey the Great and Julius Caesar. Comparatively early (1550s), and probably a pendant to the so-called Rescue of Arsinoë at Dresden. First recorded (with its traditional title) in the ducal collection in 1778. A small oil sketch of the composition (also at the Brunswick museum) has usually been attributed to Domenico Tintoretto.
Brussels. Musée Royaux des Beaux-Arts.
Carrying of St Mark’s Body to the Ship. Canvas, 107 x 175.
A smaller version of the picture painted in about 1562 for the Scuola Grande di San Marco and now in the Accademia. Opinion has been divided over whether it is a preparatory sketch for that picture, a modello presented by the artist to the Scuola, or a workshop replica or copy.
Budapest. Fine Arts Museum.
*Supper at Emmaus. Canvas, 156 x 212.
After the Resurrection, Christ walked to the village of Emmaus with two disciples, who did not recognise him, and stopped there for supper. He is shown about to break bread and reveal his identity (Luke: 24, 30-31). The painting is possibly the Supper at Emmaus listed as a work of Tintoretto in the 1654 inventory of the possessions of Lorenzo Gabrieli, the Procurator of St Mark's. But there are no certain records of it before 1821, when it was acquired by Prince Nicholas II Esterházy in Paris from the widow of Edmund de Bourke, Danish ambassador to Spain. It was attributed at first to Andrea Schiavone (a painter whose works were often confused with Tintoretto's), and later ascribed to Bonifazio. It is now considered an important very early work of Tintoretto (1540-45?).
Hercules Expelling the Faun from Omphale’s Bed. Canvas, 112 x 106.
After Hercules was sold as a slave to Omphale, a queen of Lydia, he was set to women’s work and dressed as a woman. Pan (Faunus) mistook him for Omphale and climbed into bed with him. Probably one of four canvases (three illustrating legends of Hercules) described by Ridolfi as painted by Tintoretto for Emperor Rudolph II, who reigned from 1576 to 1612. The Origin of the Milky Way in the National Gallery, London, was probably another in the series (though it is different in size and format). The Budapest picture was given by the Emperor to his brother Archduke Albert and taken to the Netherlands in 1616; it is recorded in 1635 in the collection of Charles I's favourite, George Villiers, the Duke of Buckingham, and was acquired by Archduke Leopold Wilhelm in about 1649. Transferred from the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, in 1932. The execution is ascribed by Echols and Ilchman (2009) to Domenico Tintoretto working in his father's studio.
Portrait of Doge Pietro Loredan. Canvas, 125 x 100.
Pietro Loredan was elected Doge in November 1567 at the age of eighty-five and died in May 1570. This uncompromisingly realistic portrait depicts the old Doge’s wrinkled face, thin beard and watery eyes. The Loredan coat-of-arms is conspicuously painted on the dark background. There are other, more formal portraits of Doge Loredan by Tintoretto or his studio in the National Gallery of Victoria at Melbourne and the Kimbell Art Museum at Fort Worth. Given to the museum by Prince Johann Pálffy in 1912.
Head of a Woman. Canvas, 38 x 33.
Probably a fragment of a larger portrait. An engraving based on it was reproduced by Ridolfi as a likeliness of Tintoretto’s painter daughter Marietta. In the seventeenth century, it passed from the collection of Bartolomeo della Nave in Venice to the Duke of Hamilton’s collection in England and then, after the Civil War, to Archduke Leopold Wilhelm’s collection in Brussels. After a history of different attributions (Paris Bordone, Titian or his school, and a follower of Palma Vecchio), it was given to Tintoretto in 1930 (by Johannes Wilde in an article in the Viennese journal Jahrbuch). Probably fairly early (early or mid-1550s).
Caen. Musée des Beaux-Arts.
Deposition. Canvas, 130 x 105.
Octagonal, and possibly a study for a ceiling painting. From the collection of Louis XIV, and possibly the Christ taken from the Cross recorded in the Arundel collection at Amsterdam in 1654. There is another version at Strasbourg.
Cambridge. Fitzwilliam Museum.
Adoration of the Shepherds. Canvas, 173 x 274.
The Christ Child, lying in a basket, is adored by the Virgin (who reaches forward to adjust the sheet over the Child), St Joseph (who leans over the wicker fence behind) and three young shepherds (one kneeling with two chickens hanging from his arm and birds in a basket, another standing with his arms crossed in devotion and a third leaning on a staff). At the left edge is the incidential figure of a woman holding a baby. This large horizontal canvas is generally regarded as a very early work (early or mid-1540s). It was bought by the museum in 1932 from Margaret, Countess of Suffolk and Berkshire, of Charlton Park (Wiltshire). It is said to have been acquired by an Earl of Suffolk around 1800. Its earlier provenance has not been traced (though a Nativity, described as an early work, was once in the church of San Benedetto at Venice).
Cambridge (Mass.). Fogg Art Museum.
Fidelity. Canvas, 110 x 104.
The subject has also been interpreted as Diana, but the female has none of her attributes apart from the two dogs. Probably from the same series as the Vigilance in Birmingham, Alabama. The picture, loosely painted and probably unfinished, is sometimes ascribed to Domenico Tintoretto. It once belonged to John Ruskin (who called it a 'mere sketch ... but a grand thing'). Bequeathed to the painter Arthur Severn (the husband of Ruskin's cousin and heir Joan Agnew). Then acquired in 1915 by the American investment banker Samuel Sachs, whose widow donated it to the museum in 1942.
Portrait of a Senator. Canvas, 112 x 90.
The inscription gives the sitter’s age: 83. Sometimes accepted as a late work of Joseph Tintoretto and sometimes attributed largely or wholly to his workshop. The museum has recently reassigned both the portrait and the Fedelity to Domenico Tintoretto. Donated to the museum in 1927 by the family of the Harvard art historian and author Charles Eliot Norton.
Chenonceaux (near Tours). Château.
The Queen of Sheba visiting Solomon. Canvas, 160 x 270.
The Queen of Sheba, having heard of Solomon's wisdom, came to Jerusalem with 'spices and with very much gold and precious stones' (I KIngs 10: 1-2). This little known but major picture was published as an early work of Tintoretto only in 1956 (by Otto Benesch in Arte Veneta). From the Palazzo Pisani, at Campo Stefano in Venice, where it is listed in a 1809 inventory. The Washington Conversion of Saint Paul – another major early work of Tintoretto – probably also came from the Palazzo Pisani.
Chicago. Art Institute.
*Tarquin and Lucretia. Canvas, 175 x 152.
A particularly violent treatment of this common subject. The broken string of pearls around Lucretia’s neck probably alludes to her chastity which is about to be defiled, while the dagger in the foreground clearly refers to her suicide. The carved wooden nude figure, resembling a statue, that has fallen to the floor is actually a bedpost, which has broken off in the struggle. Probably comparatively late (late 1570s or early 1580s). First certainly recorded only in 1937 in a private collection in France; later with Richard Goetz of New York, it was acquired by the Art Institute in 1949. There is another version, ascribed to Domenico Tintoretto, in the Prado.
St Helen testing the True Cross. Canvas, 22 x 49.
According to the Golden Legend, St Helen discovered three crosses on Mount Calvary. To prove which one was the True Cross, she had all three placed on the corpse of a young man whose funeral procession was passing by. At the touch of the True Cross, the young man rose from the dead. This sketchily-executed little canvas almost certainly belonged to the same series as the Discovery of the True Cross in the Hyde Collection at Glens Falls and St Helen embarking for the Holy Land in the Victoria and Albert Museum. It has been recently suggested (by Ana Debenedetti in the January 2013 Burlington Magazine) that the three canvases could have come from a cycle of small canvases recorded in 1612 as decorating the walls of the albergo (reception room) of the confraternity of the Arte dei Tesseri da Tela. This minor confraternity met at the church of San Marcuola, which contains Tintoretto's early Last Supper (dated 1547). The St Helen canvases are clearly also early. The Chicage and Hyde pictures are first recorded in the London collection of Sir Thomas Andros de la Rue; they subsequently remained together in collections in New York, London, Berlin and Lucerne, but were separated in 1932, when the St Helen testing the Cross was given to the Art Institute by the art dealers Böhler and Steinmeyer.
Cleveland. Museum of Art.
The Baptism. Canvas, 169 x 254.
The Baptist leans his left elbow on the statue of a river god. This large canvas was probably produced in Tintoretto's workshop in the 1580s. It is a near replica, in a horizontal format and with the addition of the two angels on the left, of the altarpiece in the church of San Silvestro, Venice. First recorded in the collection of Count Schulenberg of Zell. It was bought at Christie's in 1775 by William Markham, Bishop of Chester, and came to public notice when exhibited at the British Institution in 1859. It remained with Bishop Markham's descendants until 1923, and was later in the collection of Paul Sachs, Professor of Fine Art at Harvard. Acquired by the Cleveland museum in 1950.
Cologne. Wallraf-Richartz Museum.
Holy Family. Canvas, 124 x 167.
The Christ Child, standing on the seat of the Virgin's throne, blesses the spectator. The infant Baptist, supported by his mother, St Elizabeth, holds out his cross and scroll. The elderly Joseph is seated on the right. The picture is relatively little known. There is another, better known version, representing just the Madonna and Child, in the Boymans Museum at Rotterdam. Attributed to Tintoretto as an early work. Echols (1995) accepts only the composition as Tintoretto's and ascribes the execution to Giovanni Galizzi.
Columbia (South Carolina). Museum of Art.
Portrait of a Man. Canvas, 126 x 100.
In the background is a view of the Castel Sant’Angelo. The sitter was traditionally identified as a member of the Contarini family, but the coat-of-arms on the medallion round his neck is that of the Emo family. The portrait probably dates from the 1560s and is likely to have been executed partly by assistants. Along with the Portrait of Gabriele Emo now at Seattle, it was formerly in the London collections of Cavendish Bentinck and Arthur James and the Contini Bonacossi collection in Florence. Acquired by Samuel H. Kress in 1950.
Copenhagen. Statens Museum for Kunst.
Christ and the Adulteress. Canvas, 132 x 248.
Some half-dozen paintings of this subject have been attributed to Tintoretto. The others are early works; but this picture is comparatively late and was probably executed with considerable studio help (from Domenico Tintoretto?). It is usually identified as a picture mentioned by Ridolfi in the possession of the Conti Vidmani (Counts Widmann): ‘the Woman taken in Adultery being brought into the presence of the Saviour, in whose face we perceive a beauty without sin that enraptures the heart’. Formerly in private collections in Munich, Mannheim and Basle, it was acquired by the Ny Carlsberg Foundation at Berlin in 1931 and given to the museum the following year.
Curzola (Korcula in Croatia). Cathedral of Sveti Marko.
Three Saints. Canvas.
St Mark, patron saint of Curzola and titular saint of the Cathedral, is enthroned between St Bartholomew and St Jerome. Previously little known, the picture was heralded as an authentic early work of Tintoretto after restoration in 2002-6. The attribution was supported by archival research suggesting that the painting was commissioned from Tintoretto in 1550. The picture stands over the high altar, behind a large ciborium designed in 1486 by the local sculptor Marko Andrijic. Guidebooks also (optimistically) attribute an Annunciation in the south aisle to Tintoretto or his workshop.
Detroit. Institute of Arts.
Allegory of Dreams. Canvas, 425 x 217.
The complicated allegory seems to concern Fortune (balancing on a crystal globe) and Time (personified as Saturn); Jupiter is in the centre of the heavens, circled by signs of the Zodiac and flanked by Fame (with a trumpet) and two goddesses or muses (Juno and Venus or Urania and Erato?). Identified from a description by Ridolfi as part of the ceiling decoration of a room in the Palazzo Barbo, near San Pantaleon, Venice. It was the central octagon. Around it were paintings representing the Four Seasons; Spring is the Chrysler Museum at Norfolk, Summer is at Washington, Autumn is in a private collection (sold at Sotheby's, New York, in May 2018); and Winter is lost. Dating the paintings has proved controversial, with suggestions ranging from the mid-1540s to late 1570s. The huge octagonal canvas was acquired by the Detroit Institute in 1923 and installed in 1927 on the ceiling of the Italian Renaissance Room. It was taken down from the ceiling in 1971, because of its deteriorating condition, and put into storage. Restoration started in 1991, but the painting was only returned to permanent public view in 2007.
*Christ and the Woman taken in Adultery. Canvas, 189 x 355.
'Scribes and Pharisees' have brought before Christ the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8: 1-11). Carefully posed muscular nudes appear as cripples in the left and right foreground, and the temple doorway is crowded with invalids and mothers seeking alms or healing. Tintoretto appears to have borrowed figure poses from Roman sculpture (the man falling on the right resembles the Falling Gaul, now in the Venice Archaeological Museum) and from Raphael (the scene, visible through the doorway on the right, of a man carrying another man on his back recalls the famous group in the Vatican Fire in the Borgo). This large horizontal canvas is a fine early work (about 1547?). It was in the Duke of Buckingham’s collection in 1635, and was one of around one hundred paintings purchased for Prague Castle by Archduke Leopold Wilhelm in 1650, when the Buckingham collection was sold at Antwerp. At Dresden since 1749. There is a variant in the Pinacoteca Arcivescovile at Milan.
*The Rescue of Arsinoë(?). Canvas, 153 x 251.
A knight in a gondola rescues two women, naked and in chains, from a tower. He topples backwards, clutching an oar, as he helps one woman as she steps from a rope ladder into the boat, while the other woman sits on the gunwale studying the fetter on her ankle. A youth with an oar sits in the stern. The present title was proposed in 1902 by the Austrian art historian Franz Wickhoff, who identified the subject as an episode from Lucan's epic poem Pharsalia. Following Pompey's defeat at the Battle of Pharsalus and Caesar's entry into Alexandria, the Egyptian princess Arsinoë, Cleopatra's half-sister, was rescued from prison by the eunuch Ganymede. The picture, both erotic and humorous, may have been painted around the mid-1550s, and was probably a pendant to the so-called Return of Pompey at Brunswick. It was bought from the Ducal Palace at Mantua in 1743 by Count Algarotti for Augustus III of Saxony.
*Lady dressed in Mourning. Canvas, 104 x 87.
The beautiful, thirtyish widow, dressed in mourning but with the veil lifted, rests her left elbow on a stone parapet and holds a rosary in her right hand. This superb portrait is usually dated around 1550-55. It is first recorded in an Este inventory of 1685, where it is described as a portrait of a widow by Titian. It was among one hundred masterpieces from the Galleria Estense at Modena sold by the bankrupted Duke, Francesco III d'Este, in 1745-46 to Augustus III, Elector of Saxony. It was described in a Dresden inventory of 1754 as a Portrait of a Cornaro Widow by Titian. The attribution to Tintoretto was made by Berenson in the first edition of his Venetian Painters (1894).
Allegory of Music. Canvas, 142 x 214.
The women play a bass viola da gamba, a regal (small portable organ), a cornetto muto, and a six-stringed cittern. A zither rests against the regal and a lira da braccio lies in the foreground. The picture was formerly at Prague, and is possibly the ‘Musical Concert, with the Muses in a garden playing various instruments’ mentioned by Ridolfi as painted for the Emperor Rudolph II. It came to Dresden in 1749, when it was sold by the Empress Maria Theresia to help finance her campaigns against Frederick the Great. Probably painted (with studio help) in about 1582-84. A companion painting (or a copy of it), representing Parnassus with Apollo, the Muses and Graces, was destroyed during the Second War.
The Archangel Michael crushing Satan. Canvas, 318 x 220.
The casting out of Satan from Heaven by the Archangel Michael was an established medieval tradition; the only reference in the Bible is in Revelation: 12, 1-9. The 'woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet' is interpreted as the Virgin Mary. Probably very late (early 1590s?), and at least partly by Tintoretto’s workshop. Recorded at Dresden since 1754. The picture influenced Rubens, whose St Michael defeating the Rebel Angels is at Munich.
Dublin. National Gallery of Ireland.
Portrait of a Gentleman. Canvas, 116 x 80.
He is shown three-quarter length standing beside a table, a pair of gloves in his left hand. Inscribed with the date, 1555, and the sitter’s age, 29. Bought at Christie’s in 1866.
*Portrait of an Elderly Senator. Canvas, 84 x 60.
The Venetian magistrate is shown seated, wearing his official robes of red velvet trimmed with ermine. His advanced age is starkly portrayed in his drawn features, limp hands and stupefied expression. A comparatively late work (dated by Tietze about 1570 and by Rossi 1575-80). Formerly in the Cook collection at Richmond, and acquired by the Dublin Gallery in 1945.
Edinburgh. National Gallery of Scotland.
*Deposition of Christ. Canvas, 164 x 128.
Commissioned by the brothers Zuanne and Zuan’ Alberto da Basso for their family chapel (now the Sagredo Chapel) in the church of San Francesco della Vigna at Venice, where Vasari saw it in 1566. Joseph of Arimathea, supporting Christ’s head, could be a portrait of one of the brothers. The picture seems to have been cut from its frame by thieves early in the seventeenth century. Originally, as shown by prints, it had an arched top with an angel with a crown of thorns hovering over the dead Christ. The picture seems to have been acquired in Spain by the Duc d’Orléans at the beginning of the eighteenth century. It was bought by the Duke of Bridgewater at the Orléans Sale at Bryans Gallery, London, in 1797-98. It was on loan to the gallery from 1946 to 1984, when the gallery bought it.
Children presented to the Madonna by St Lawrence and a Bishop. Canvas, 234 x 173.
The unidentified bishop saint presents a group of seven girls to the Virgin and St Lawrence (identified by his gridiron) presents two boys. Recorded in the 1798 inventory of Lord Clive’s collection at Powis Castle as ‘The Carnaro (sic) Family by Tintoret’. It remained with the Clive family until 1929, when it was sold (at Harrods) to Tomàs Harris, from whom it was purchased by the Gallery in 1952. Probably late (1570s or 1580s); parts at least of the painting, including the portraits of children, were probably executed by Tintoretto’s studio (Domenico Tintoretto?). The upper part is very worn and the figures of the Virgin and Child are badly damaged.
Portrait of a Gentleman (no. 3). Canvas, 127 x 98.
He is in late middle age, has a thin greying beard and is dressed in black with a white ruff collar. He poses beside a table on which a crucifix stands and a letter lies folded. This fine portrait was traditionally ascribed to Jacopo Bassano and was catalogued under his name until 1978. An attribution to Tintoretto was first suggested in 1957 by Pallucchini (in Arte Veneta, quoting a verbal suggestion by Roberto Longhi) after the portrait was shown in the Bassano exhibition of that year. The portrait is said to have come from the Grimaldi family of Genoa. It was bought on behalf of the Edinburgh Royal Institution in 1830 by the Scottish painter Andrew Wilson from the Marchesa Pallavicini of Genoa.
*Portrait of Jacopo Sansovino. Canvas, 70 x 65.
Jacopo Tatti, called Sansovino, was born in Florence, where he practised as a sculptor as a young man. After some years in Rome, he fled in 1527 to Venice, where he was Principal Architect to the City for nearly forty years. The portrait, which shows him holding the architect’s attribute of a compass in his right hand, was in the collection of Francesco de’ Medici by 1584, when it is mentioned in Borghini’s Il Riposo. It could have been presented to the Grand Duke by Tintoretto in 1566, when Sansovino, then eighty years old, was elected a member of the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno. Or it could have been commissioned as a commemorative portrait after Sansovino’s death in November 1570. There are several other versions, including a more freely painted one, at Weimer, of the face alone, which was probably a preliminary study done from life.
Portrait of a Bearded Man. Wood, 29 x 22.
Signed ‘IAC. FEC’ and dated 1546. It is uncertain whether this is a small painted sketch or a finished portrait (possibly of a relative). Apart from ‘furniture paintings’ attributed to Tintoretto as very early works, paintings by him on panel are extremely rare. Transferred from the Pitti Palace in 1798.
Portrait of an Admiral. Canvas, 127 x 99.
The sitter, traditionally identified as Sebastiano Venier, may be Agostino Barbarigo, who fell at the Battle of Lépanto. A marine background alludes to his naval career. Acquired in Venice in 1657 by Paolo della Sera for Cardinal Leopoldo de’ Medici.
Christ and the Samaritan Woman. Two canvases, each 116 x 93.
These two paintings (now considerably cut down) decorated the outside of the organ shutters of the church of San Benedetto in Venice. Two canvases in Amsterdam, representing the Annunciation, decorated the inside of the shutters. Tintoretto also painted two altarpieces for San Benedetto (San Beneto in Venetian dialect). The altarpieces disappeared from the church when it was rebuilt in 1619-29, but the organ canvases remained in situ until the 1730s, when they were sold to meet the cost of restoring the organ. The Christ and the Samaritan Woman entered the Uffizi in 1910 through the Export Office for Works of Art.
Portrait of a Red-Haired Man. Canvas, 52 x 43.
Recorded as a work of Titian in a 1702 inventory of Grand Prince Ferdinando de’ Medici’s collection. Given to Paris Bordone in the nineteenth century. Attributed to Tintoretto by Berenson in the first edition of his Venetian Painters (1894). Probably early.
Leda and the Swan. Canvas, 162 x 218.
Leda, lying naked across her canopied bed, is nuzzled by the swan. On the left is a maidservant with a large wooden cage. A little dog barks at the swan and a cat stares at a duck in the cage. The picture was previously often considered a much later replica, produced in Tintoretto's workshop in the 1570s or 1580s, of a painting formerly in the Contini Bonacossi collection and now also in the Uffizi. But after restorations in 1988 and 1994, it was reappraised as a substantially autograph painting of the 1550s. It is thought to have been among the pictures acquired by the Duke of Bridgewater when the Orléans collection was sold in London in 1798-99. It was later in the hands of the picture dealer Peter Norton of Soho Square, London, who loaned it to the Art Treasures exhibition held at Manchester in 1857. Bequeathed to the Uffizi in 1893 by Arthur de Noé Walker, a British homeopathic doctor.
Leda and the Swan. Canvas, 148 x 148.
Another, probably earlier version. It has been cut square, removing the maidservant on the left (the hem of whose dress is just visible). Nothing is known of the history of the painting before 1925, when it was acquired by the dealer Alessandro Contini Bonacossi from Baron Detlev von Hadeln, a German art historian living in Florence. It was sold to Hermann Göring in 1941 for 1.35 million lire – one of fifteen paintings sold by Contini Bonacossi that year to the commander of the Luftwaffe and founder of the Gestapo. It was recovered in Germany in 1948 by Ridolfo Siviero's Ufficio Recupero Opere d'Arte. At the Uffizi since 1989.
Adam and Eve before God the Father. Canvas, 90 x 110.
A fragment from a damaged larger canvas. Originally one of a series of five scenes from Genesis painted by Tintoretto for the Scuola della Trinità. Three of the pictures are in the Accademia, Venice, and one is lost. Formerly in the collection of the painter Natale Schiavoni; acquired by the Uffizi in 1821.
Arachne and Minerva; Venus and Adonis(?). Canvas, 142/145 x 290/272.
One canvas represents the weaving contest between Minerva and Arachne (Book VI of Ovid's Metamorphoses). The other subject is uncertain: 'Venus and Adonis' and 'Diana and Endymion' have been suggested. The two canvases, originally octagonal, formed part of a ceiling decoration. They came from the Palazzo Donà dalle Rose on the Fondamente Nove. Bequeathed to the Florentine Galleries in 1969 with the Contini Bonacossi collection (which was transferred to the Uffizi from the Pitti Palace in 1993 but only became accessible to visitors in 2018). The attribution can be questioned.
Venus, Cupid and Vulcan. Canvas, 85 x 197.
Unusually, Venus and her husband Vulcan are shown as loving parents. The figure in the sky could be Apollo (driving the chariot of the sun) or Mars (Venus's lover and father of her child Cupid). This rapidly executed canvas has sometimes been ascribed to Tintoretto's studio or following, but it is now usually accepted as a very early autograph work (mid-1540s?). It may have been painted for a bedroom (perhaps as an overdoor). From the collection of Carlo de’ Medici, brother of Cosimo II.
Madonna and Child ('Madonna della Concezione'). Canvas, 151 x 98.
The Madonna, unusually dressed in red and seated on dark clouds, has an open book under one arm and cradles the Child with the other. The halo of stars derives from the 'Woman of the Apocalpse' (Revelation 12: 1) and is associated with the Immaculate Conception. Probably painted in the 1560s or 1570s. There is no evidence that it is a fragment of a larger altarpiece as once supposed. Acquired as a work of Tintoretto by Cardinal Leopoldo de’ Medici in 1658 through Paolo della Sera, a Florentine collector living in Venice.
Portrait of Vincenzo Zeno. Canvas, 102 x 86.
Through the window is an atmospheric view of Venice with the sun breaking through dark clouds. The inscription beneath the window gives the name of the white-bearded sitter – a Venetian patrician – and his age, seventy-four. The provenance of the portrait is unknown.
Portrait of Alvise Cornaro. Canvas, 113 x 85.
Alvise (or Luigi) Cornaro was a Paduan humanist – a Renaissance man, who pioneered the draining of marshland for farming, promoted the classical style in architecture, and wrote a famous treatise advocating sobriety and moderation in diet. The treatise, published in Padua as La Vita Sobria, was translated into English as The Sure and Certain Method of Attaining a Long and Healthy Life. There is some doubt about the date of Cornaro's birth, but he was certainly over ninety when he died in 1566. The portrait, another of the many Venetian pictures acquired by Cardinal Leopoldo de' Medici, is sometimes ascribed to Titian in old inventories.
Portrait of Andrea Frigerio. Canvas, 61 x 65.
Andrea Frigerio or Frizier (1514-81), of a noble Venetian family, held the position of Cancellier Grande (head clerk of the court) from 1575 to 1580, when this portrait was probably painted. Also from the collection of Leopoldo de’ Medici.
Fort Worth. Kimbell Art Museum.
Portrait of Doge Pietro Loredan. Canvas, 126 x 107.
Pietro Loredan was elected Doge in 1567, at the age of eighty-five, and died three years later. The portrait, previously in the collection of the New York lawyer John Ross Delafield, was acquired by the Kimbell Museum in 1986. The is another version – nearly identical but arguably superior in quality – in the National Gallery of Victoria at Melbourne.
Frankfurt. Städel Museum.
Moses Striking the Rock. Canvas, 118 x 182.
The subject is from Exodus (17: 1-7) or Numbers (20: 1-13). Kneeling women catch in bowls the water that gushes from the rock that Moses had struck with his rod. A host of spectating Israelites extends across the background like a wall. The picture came from the collection at Hamilton Palace in Glasgow, and was acquired by the museum in 1914, on the eve of the First World War. Usually considered fairly early (dated around 1555 by Pallucchini and Rossi (1982)). The attribution was rejected by Echols and Ilchman in their 2009 Checklist of Revised Attributions, but the museum has continued to display and catalogue the picture as an autograph Tintoretto.
Ghent. Museum voor Schone Kunsten.
Portrait of Giovanni Paolo Cornaro. Canvas, 101 x 80.
Giovanni Paolo Cornaro (or Corner), nicknamed dalle Anticaglie, was a famed collector of antiquities, and he is shown with his arm resting on the head of an ancient statue. The inscription gives his name, profession, age (32), and the date (1561). The portrait was seen by Ridolfi in the Casa Zaguri. The Zaguri family seems to have inherited it from Pietro Pellegrini, a distinguished Secretary of the Council of Ten, who married Samaritana Corner, Giovanni Paolo's daughter. Formerly at Longford Castle in Ireland, it came to the Ghent Museum in 1914 with the bequest of Ferdinand Scribe, a wealthy Belgian amateur painter and patron of the arts. It was at first attributed to Jacopo Bassano.
Glasgow. City Art Gallery.
The Vestal Virgin Tuccia. Canvas, 50 x 106.
Tuccia carries a sieve of water from the Tiber, confounding those who had accused her of breaking her chastity vows. Ascribed to Tintoretto, as a very early work of the 1540s, or to a close follower (sometimes identified as Lambert Sustris or another northern painter). Probably made to be inserted into a chest, bench or bed; now enlarged at the top. From the McLellan collection at Glasgow (where it was recorded by Waagen in 1857 with an attribution to Schiavone).
Glens Falls (New York). Hyde Collection.
Discovery of the True Cross. Canvas, 21 x 49.
St Helen unearths three crosses on Mount Calvary. Almost certainly from the same series as canvases, illustrating earlier and later episodes from the Story of the True Cross, at the Victoria and Albert Museum (St Helen Embarking for the Holy Land) and the Chicago Art Institute (Testing of the True Cross). The Hyde and Chicago pictures were in London together in the early twentieth century, when they were acquired by the art historian Robert Langton Douglas. After passing through various American, English, German and Swiss collections, they were still together in 1931, when they were acquired by the Munich dealer Julius Böhler and shipped to the United States. The Testing of the True Cross was gifted to the Chicago Institute in 1932, while the Discovery of the True Cross was acquired by Mrs Charlotte Hyde in about 1940. Early (about 1545-50).
Portrait of Alvise Mocenigo. Canvas, 55 x 39.
Alvise Mocenigo was elected Doge of Venice in 1570 at the age of sixty-nine. Tintoretto painted him several times as Doge. (An official portrait in the Venice Accademia shows him in a seated pose; a large votive canvas in the Doge's Palace shows him kneeling before the Redeemer; and a votive picture at Washington shows him in a family group with the Madonna.) The small, bust-length portrait in the Hyde Collection appears to show Alvise as a younger man. It was formerly in the collection of Sir Claude Alexander, the Laird of Ballochmyle in Ayrshire. It was bought by Mrs Charlotte Hyde in 1943 from a New York dealer.
Harewood House (near Leeds).
Portrait of a Venetian Nobleman (Benedetto Soranzo?). Canvas, 121 x 109.
The Venetian aristocrat is seated in crimson robes trimmed with ermine. Towards the top left corner, a tiny Carmelite nun prays before a Bible. The scroll above her is inscribed with the text: 'Everything is possible with faith' (Mark: 9, 23). The seaport depicted in the background has been identified as Alexandria, which had strong trading links with Venice. This unusual portrait has been variously attributed to Tintoretto and/or his studio. (Tintoretto may only have painted the sitter's head.) Bought by the Earl of Harewood for £2,500 in 1921 from the picture restorer and dealer Ayerst Hooker Buttery.
Hartford. Wadsworth Atheneum.
Apollo and Marsyas. Canvas, 137 x 236.
In their musical contest, Apollo plays a viol (lira da braccio) and Marsyas a shawn (ciamarella); Minerva sits in the centre with lance and shield. Rapidly executed in a sketchy, unfinished technique, this is probably one of a pair of ceiling paintings (the other represented Argos and Mercury) for which Pietro Aretino thanked the artist in a letter dated 15 February 1545. On this identification, the picture is Tintoretto’s earliest documented work. The standing figure on the right may be a portrait of Aretino. By 1618 the picture belonged to Sir Dudley Carlton, who had served as ambassador to Venice, and it was later in the collections of the Duke of Abercorn and Sir W. Bromley Davenport. Bought by the Wadsworth Atheneum from Agnew’s in 1950. Aretino's house still stands. Known today as the Casa Bollani, it is situated near the Rialto Bridge, where the Rio San Giovanni Crisostomo runs into the Grand Canal.
Hercules and Antaeus. Canvas, 152 x 102.
Hercules's wrestling match with Antaeus was his Eleventh Labour. He won by lifting the giant above his mother earth (thereby depriving him of his strength) and crushing him in a bear hug. The contest is witnessed by a pantheon of gods above and a crowd of mortals below. The picture is now considered only a studio work. It was acquired in London by the museum in 1928 for the huge price of $29,250, and was accepted as an autograph Tintoretto by leading critics of the day (including Bernard Berenson and Lionello Venturi). Some forty years later, an attribution to Domenico Tintoretto was published (by John Paoletti in the December 1968 Apollo).
Kingston Lacy (Dorset).
Apollo crowning a Poet(?). Canvas, 270 x 236.
This large octagonal canvas must have come from a ceiing. The subject, previously called 'Apollo and the Muses', is uncertain. The central figure, crowned with laurel and standing on a jumble of gold treasure, has alternatively been identified as Hymen. The woman (lower right) holding a cornucopia and sitting over a large dice probably represents Fortune, while the man (upper left) wearing a lion's skin and holding a spear and bow must be Hercules. The picture was acquired by William Bankes in Italy and is first recorded in the Dining Room at Kingston Lacy around 1850. It was later moved to a back staircase. When the house was acquired by the National Trust in 1981, the picture, which had become so dirty that the figures could hardly be made out, was initially put into storage. Restoration in 2010 removed thick discoloured varnish and old darkened retouchings, and the picture has now been returned to the Dining Room.
Resurrection of Lazarus. Canvas, 178 x 252.
The account given in John's Gospel (chapter 11) is accurately followed. Christ commands ‘Lazarus, come forth’. Mary, seeing Christ, ‘fell down at His feet’. Lazarus’s other sister Martha gazes at him in wonder as he is lifted from his stone sarcophagus. Some in the crowd hold handkerchiefs because ‘he stinketh: for he has been dead for four days’. There are at least six other paintings by Tintoretto of this subject. Most are very different, but one in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts shares the same basic composition. Once considered a comparatively early work (about contemporary with the Miracle of St Mark of 1548), but dated considerably later (about 1562-65) by Pallucchini (1982). Nichols (1999) considers the picture a studio work, and dates it much later still (1580-85).
*St George and the Dragon. Canvas, 158 x 100.
The highly original composition relegates the main event – St George fighting the dragon – to the middle ground. In the foreground, the terrified princess Cleodolinda has dropped to her knees. On the ground behind her, the dead body of one of the dragon's victims lies in the attitude of the crucified Christ. God the Father (thinly painted and now more ethereal than originally intended) appears in the sky amidst luminous concentric clouds. The steep walls of a fortified city loom in the background. This highly finished picture was probably the altarpiece of a private chapel in a Venetian palazzo, and may have been painted in the 1550s or early 1560s. It is probably the painting mentioned by Ridolfi (1648) in the possession of the ‘Signeur Pietro Cornaro Senatore’ and by Boschini (1660) in the ‘Casa Corer’. It was in England by 1764 (when it was sold at Prestage’s, London), and was bequeathed to the National Gallery in 1831 by the Rev. Holwell Carr. A related composition in the Hermitage at St Petersburg has been ascribed to Tintoretto’s workshop (or Domenico Tintoretto). A drawing for the corpse is preserved in the Louvre.
Christ Washing His Disciples’ Feet. Canvas, 205 x 410.
Christ washes St Peter's feet (John 13: 6-10). The man with a torch, stepping out of the picture at the left edge, could be Judas Iscariot. Thie picture is exceptionally dark and much damaged, and parts (particularly the huge figures on the extreme left and right) may be unfinished. Crude restoration of the tiled floor has exaggerated the chequerboard pattern. From the Cappella del Sacramento in the north transept of the church of San Trovaso at Venice. A pendant, a Last Supper, is still in situ. It is much lighter in tone. The chapel seems to have been completed in 1556, which has sometimes been taken as the approximate date of both pictures. However, the Washing of the Feet may be substantially later: Nicholas Penny suggests a date in the late 1570s in his 2008 gallery catalogue. Removed from the church in the eighteenth century and replaced by a copy. By 1835 it was at Hamilton Palace in Scotland, whence it was bought by the National Gallery in 1882 for 150 gns.
*Origin of the Milky Way. Canvas, 148 x 165.
To immortalise the infant Hercules, Jupiter holds him to the breast of Juno. The milk spills upwards, forming the Milky Way. The putti hold bows, arrows and torches (erotic symbols) and nets (possibly representing deceit). The peacock is Juno’s emblem and the eagle is Jupiter’s. This richly coloured and highly finished picture has been cut down by about a third at the bottom. It is known from a late seventeenth-century copy that the missing section showed a reclining nude woman (representing the Roman goddess Ops, embodiment of the earth and source of fertility) with shoots and roots sprouting from her fingers, and lilies growing from the milk that fell to the ground.
The picture was probably one of four canvases by Tintoretto noted by Ridolfi as painted for Emperor Rudolph II, three of which illustrated legends of Hercules; the Hercules driving the Satyr from his Bed in Budapest is probably another of these (though it is different in size and style and would not have made a good companion piece). The Origin of the Milky Way passed into the magnificent Orléans collection by 1727, and was hung as an overdoor in the Palais-Royal in Paris. (The dimensions given in the 1727 inventory reveal that the canvas had already been cut down.) It was included in the famous auction of the Orléans collection held in London in 1798-99, but failed to sell. It was bought in by the dealer Michael Bryan, who had organised the auction, for a mere 50 guineas, and was one of seven ex-Orléans paintings sold by Bryan to the 4th Earl of Darnley. (Four others were Veronese's Allegories of Love, which are also now in the National Gallery.) It remained at Cobham Hall in Kent until 1890, when the 6th Earl sold it to the National Gallery.
*Portrait of Vincenzo Morosini. Canvas, 85 x 52.
The sitter’s identity is confirmed by a resemblance to the donor portrait in a mediocre altarpiece by Tintoretto’s workshop of the Resurrection in the Morosini Chapel in San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice. Vincenzo Morosini (1511-88) held many important public offices, including Prefect of Bergamo, Podestà in Verona, commander of the defences of the Lagoon, Procurator of San Marco and Vice-Chancellor of Padua University. The sash of gold brocade worn over his right shoulder is that of a Cavaliere della Stola d'Oro – a title probably conferred upon him in 1572, when he represented Venice at the Coronation of Pope Gregory XIII. To judge from the sitter’s age, the portrait probably dates from around 1580. It is unusually narrow and may have been cut down on the right. (A derivative portrait of Morosini in the Doge’s Palace is larger and shows the sitter’s hands.) Sold by Count Contini, Rome, to Agnew’s in 1922, and purchased by the National Gallery from Agnew’s two years later.
Jupiter and Semele. Wood, 22 x 65.
Jupiter appears as the storm god to his pregnant mistress Semele, who is about to be consumed by lightning. This small panel, executed with free, dry brushwork, was presumably from a cassone, bed or some other piece of furniture. Formerly in the collection of the painter Frederic Leighton, and bought by the National Gallery at his studio sale in 1896 as by Andrea Schiavone. First attributed to Tintoretto, as a very early work, by Ellis Waterhouse in 1927. (Ridolfi says that the young Tintoretto associated with ‘painters of small success who decorated furniture.’) While quite widely accepted, the attribution is not certain. Two panels, also illustrating scenes from Ovid and also formerly ascribed to Schiavone, in the Courtauld Institute Galleries are from the same series.
London. Victoria and Albert Museum.
Self-Portrait as a Young Man. Canvas, 46 x 37.
Bought, as a portrait by Titian, at Christie’s in 1883 by Constantine Alexander Ionides, who bequeathed his collection to the museum in 1900. It was identified as a Tintoretto self-portrait by Baron von Hadeln, who suggested a date around 1548 when the artist was thirty years old. There is another version – on canvas and arguably superior – at Philadelphia. It has been suggested that the V&A picture might be the ‘portrait of our father on panel’ that Domenico Tintoretto bequeathed to his sister Ottavia in his will of 1630. It might alternatively be the small Tintoretto self-portrait as a young man listed in the 1608 inventory of the possessions of the sculptor Alessandro Vittoria.
St Helen embarking for the Holy Land. Canvas, 23 x 60.
Traditionally attributed to Andrea Schiavone and called the Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba. Now reattributed to Tintoretto, as an early work, and grouped with the St Helen testing the True Cross in the Chicago Art Institute and the Discovery of the True Cross in the Hyde Collection at Glens Falls. It has been recently suggested (by Ana Debenedetti in the January 2013 Burlington Magazine) that the three small canvases could have belonged to a cycle illustrating the Life of St Helen that was painted for the confraternity of the Arte dei Tesseri da Tela at San Marcuola. Bequeathed to the V&A in 1869 with the collection of the Revd Chauncy Hare Townshend.
Two ‘Cassone’ Panels. Wood, 23 x 66.
The panels – rapid and sketchy in execution – both show scenes from Ovid’s Metamorphoses: Latona changing the Lycian Peasants into Frogs and Apollo and Diana killing the Children of Niobe. A panel at the National Gallery, showing Jupiter and Semele, is not only the same size but has been shown to have been painted on wood from the same pine tree; it presumably belonged to the same piece of furniture or decorative scheme. The two panels were bequeathed to the Courtauld Institute in 1978 by Count Seilern, who had acquired them in 1936 as by Andrea Schiavone. They are now ascribed to Tintoretto, as very early works, or to his workshop or circle. A panel representing Mercury slaying Argus in a private collection is probably from the same series. It was auctioned at Sotheby's, New York, in June 2008 with a curious attribution to Bonifazio de' Pitati.
Esther before Ahasuerus (or Solomon and the Queen of Sheba?). Canvas, 17 x 49.
King Ahasuerus (or Solomon), enthroned among his advisers, is approached by Esther (or the Queen of Sheba), who places her hand on her heart in supplication. The small canvas, with rounded ends, may have decorated the front of a chest. Early (mid-1540s?) and previously ascribed to Schiavone. The picture is more finely executed than most furniture paintings attributed to the young Tintoretto. It is accepted as autograph by Echols and Ilchman (2009), who reject many of Tintoretto's attributed early works. The figure of Esther (or the Queen of Sheba) resembles Psyche in Francesco Salviati’s ceiling in the Palazzo Grimini (known from a print). Acquired by Count Seilern in 1952.
Adoration of Shepherds. Canvas, 75 x 86.
Probably a late work (late 1570s?), executed in Tintoretto’s workshop. Parts (including the two rabbits, the basket of eggs and other foreground details) have been ascribed to Domenico. Sold at Christie’s in 1954 (as a work of Jacopo Bassano), and acquired by Count Seilern in the same year.
London. Royal Collection.
*Esther before Ahasuerus. Canvas, 207 x 273.
The subject is from the Old Testament Book of Esther. The Jewish heroine Esther risked death by appearing before the Persian king Ahasuerus to plead for her people. The incident of Esther fainting with fear into the arms of her maids occurs only in the apocryphal Rest of the Chapters of Esther (xv, 7), but it is the episode most commonly represented. The picture is a magnificent early work, probably painted in the middle to late 1540s. The fact that the vanishing point is on the extreme left suggests that it was intended to be viewed from the side – perhaps on the lateral wall of a chapel with a companion New Testament subject opposite it. Comparison with a replica (usually ascribed to Tintoretto’s workshop) in the Escorial would suggest that it has been cut down substantially on both sides, though there is no technical evidence to support this. The twisting figure of the young man in a turban in the upper left corner (possibly representing Haman, King Ahasuerus’s minister who was plotting to have all Jews massacred) is unfinished; it was painted over, probably by Tintoretto himself or an assistant, with a boy in armour holding back a curtain and was exposed by a drastic attempt at cleaning in the eighteenth or nineteenth century. Acquired by Charles I in 1629-30 with the Gonzaga collection from Mantua. It briefly left the Royal collection after the Civil War, when it was valued at £120 in the Commonwealth Sale, but is recorded in the inventory of Charles II. Thoroughly cleaned of repaint in 1990.
*The Nine Muses. Canvas, 212 x 304.
The Muses, nine life-size nudes, are grouped sculpturally against a sunburst sky. One (possibly Calliope, Muse of epic poetry) plays a harpsichord. One flies with a bass viol. One plays a lute. One tunes a lira da braccio. One (possibly Urania, Muse of astronomy) holds a globe and tablet. One (possibly Clio, Muse of history) holds a book. One (another candidate for Urania) lies in the foreground, holding a compass and studying a paper with mathematical symbols. The features of Apollo are faintly imposed on the sun.
The picture is comparatively late, and similar in style to the four famous Allegories of 1577-78 in the Anticollegio of the Doge’s Palace. It came from the Gonzaga collection, where it is recorded in 1627 (together with the Esther before Ahaseurus, which must have been painted some thirty years earlier) hanging in a passage of the Ducal Palace at Mantua. The word ‘Venetia’ written after the signature suggests that it might have been commissioned for Mantua, while the abbreviation ‘IN’ might stand for ‘invenit’ (perhaps meaning that Tintoretto designed the picture but did not execute all of it himself). The low viewpoint suggests that it was intended for a very high setting. It was included in the Commonwealth Sale, where it was valued at £80, but retrieved after the Restoration. The identical ‘Palladian’ frames around the two large Tintorettos in the Royal Collection date from William Kent’s hang of 1725-27 in the King’s Drawing Room at Kensington Palace. There is a fragment of another version of the Muses (showing only the seated figure on the left with a lute) in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, and a much smaller version (possibly by Domenico Tintoretto) at Indianapolis. The Esther before Ahasuerus and Nine Muses are presently displayed together again in the King's Gallery at Kensington Palace.
Girolamo di Giovanni Pozzo. Canvas, 116 x 102.
He is very elderly, with white hair and a flowing white beard, wears a black gown with fur trim, and holds a hat in one hand and a pair of gloves in the other. He was identified by Shearman (1983) from the damaged inscription ('HIERONIMUS PUT...'). He was a goldsmith living in the parish of San Geremia in Venice. Shearman dates the portrait about 1550. It is recorded (frequently with an attribution to Jacopo Bassano) in the inventories of the Royal Collection going back to the time of George III and possibly Charles I.
Portrait of a Knight of Malta. Canvas, 107 x 81.
The young man's black cloak and tunic are emblazoned with white Maltese crosses. Originally oval. As Tintoretto in the collection of Charles I. Sold by the Commonwealth in 1651 for £15 to Edmund Harrison, but returned by him to the Royal Collection after the Restoration. Probably comparatively early (around 1550), and painted with studio assistance (the rendering of the hands seems especially weak). The portrait currently hangs in the State Bedroom at Windsor Castle.
Portrait of a Dominican. Canvas, 76 x 57.
The middle-aged man, plump and bearded, wears the black Dominican habit over a white mantle. The attribution to Tintoretto goes back to 1660, when the portrait was one of twenty-four Italian pictures presented to Charles II by the States of Holland. There were later attributions to Bassano and simply the North Italian School. Catalogued by the Royal Collection Trust (2017) as 'attributed to Tintoretto' and dated around 1575-80.
Head of a Man. Canvas (mounted on panel), 40 x 35.
The unknown sitter could have been a German or Flemish merchant living in Venice. Shown full-face against a dark background, he is clean-shaven and ruddy in the face, and his bowl-cut hair is greying. Probably a life study for a larger, more formal portrait in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, which shows the same man three-quarter length and seated. Acquired in 1762 by George III from the collection of Joseph Smith, the British Consul in Venice. It was once supposed to be Titian's portrait, described by Ridolfi, of the 'Physician Parma', and was later ascribed to Leandro Bassano.
Portrait of a Young Man ('Man aged Twenty-Five'). Canvas (mounted on panel), 109 x 90.
He is shown three-quarter length against a dark background. He has short black hair and a brown beard, wears a black coat buttoned to the neck and rests his gloved right hand on the base of a column. There are two inscriptions: 'AN XXV' (presumably the sitter's age) on the column base and the date '1545' in arabic numerials under the moulding. Recorded in 1720 at Kensington Palace as a work of Titian – an attribution it retained for a long time. Now attributed to Tintoretto, it has been claimed to be the artist's earliest dated portrait. Caution should perhaps be exercised, however, as the date is barely legible and could be a later addition.
London. Leighton House.
Portrait of an Elderly Nobleman. Canvas, 94 x 76.
The distinguished-looking old man, seated in an armchair, wears a fur-lined black gown and holds a pair of gloves – a mark of status – in his left hand. An inscription (upper right) identifies the sitter as Paolo Paruta. Paruta, a Venetian historian and statesman, died in 1598 at the age of fifty-eight, whereas the sitter appears considerably older. The portrait was acquired around 1880 by Sir Frederic Leighton from the painter, collector and dealer Charles Fairfax Murray. Bought at the Leighton estate sale in 1896 by a T. W. Bacon. Acquired by the government, in lieu of tax, from a descendant of Bacon and allocated to Leighton House in 2001. (It has been returned to its original location on the first floor landing.) There has been little published critical opinion on the attribution and dating of the picture.
Los Angeles. County Museum of Art.
Portrait of a Venetian Senator (Marino Grimani). Canvas, 146 x 118.
An inscription gives the age of the sitter: 46. He was previously identified as Antonio Anselmi (friend of Bendetto Varchi and Pietro Aretino and secretary of Pietro Bembo) on the basis of a resemblance to a portrait by Titian in the Thyssen Collection (Madrid). He has been more recently identified as Marino Grimani, who was born in 1532 and elected Doge in 1595. The Portrait of a Gentlewoman at Minneapolis was probably a pendant. Acquired in 1939 from the collection of the wealthy Californian banker and art lover Paul Rodman Mabury.
Lübeck. (St Catherine's Church). Katharinenkirche.
Resurrection of Lazarus. Canvas, 318 x 235.
Signed and dated 1576 on the sepulchre. The artist’s name is followed by the word ‘inventur’, which may be an admission that, while Tintoretto designed the picture, it was executed largely by his workshop. The coats-of-arms of three local families families (Budan, De Hane and Gude) appear on the imposing painted wooden frame. It is not known, however, where the painting was acquired or how it came to Lübeck.
The composition appears to be a reworking, on a large scale and in a vertical format, of a small picture (69 x 79) acquired by the Kimbell Art Museum at Fort Worth in 1966. This small version is possibly that commissioned by Procurator Gerolamo da Mula on 6 February 1573. It was (inexplicably) sold by the Kimbell for $825,000 in 1994 and is now in private hands.
Portrait of a Man. Canvas, 70 x 59.
The burly sitter, middle-aged with short hair and beard, fills the canvas. Probably fairly early (1550-55). At the Pinacoteca since 1859.
Lucca, Cathedral. Third altar, right aisle.
Last Supper. Canvas, 350 x 215.
The composition is centred on the figure of Christ administering the sacrament to the apostles. He stands in an aureole of golden light at the far end of the foreshortened table. Judas, seated at the near end of the table, on the right, hides his purse with the thirty pieces of silver under his hand. In the foreground, a mother nurses her infant. A very late work. (According to Enrico Ridolfi's L'Arte di Lucca (1882), it was commissioned in 1592 for 170 scudi and completed in 1594 (the year of Tintoretto's death).) The composition is related (though in a vertical rather than horizontal format) to that of the famous Last Supper at San Giorgio Maggiore, which was painted in Tintoretto's studio during the same period. The execution has been ascribed to the workshop (or specifically to Domenico Tintoretto). The picture appears to have been harshly restored. Ridolfi says that Tintoretto also painted an Ascension for Lucca Cathedral.
Lyon. Musée des Beaux-Arts.
Danaë. Canvas, 153 x 197.
The subject is from Book II of Ovid's Metamorphoses. Danaë, the only daughter of KIng Acrisius of Argos, was imprisoned by her father in a brazen chamber. She was seduced by Jupiter, who transformed himself into a shower of golden rain, which streamed in through the roof of the chamber. Tintoretto's picture, which may date from the late 1570s or early 1580s, was clearly inspired by Titian’s famous Danaë (versions at Naples, Madrid and elsewhere) of some thirty years earlier. Here, however, the maid attempting to catch the shower of gold coins is not old but as young as the princess. The dog, usually a symbol of fidelity, seems to have turned its back on the scene of seduction, and the upturned lute resting on the window sill has been interpreted as a phallic symbol. Parts of the picture, including the figure of the maid, were probably executed by Domenico Tintoretto or a lesser assistant. Bought in France in 1624 for the Duke of Buckingham, and acquired by Emperor Ferdinand III when Buckingham’s collection was auctioned in Antwerp in 1649. Taken by Napoleon from Vienna in 1809 and at Lyon since 1811. There is little basis for the theory that Danaë is a portrait of the famous Venetian courtesan Veronica Franco.
Mystic Marriage of St Catherine. Canvas, 193 x 314.
The Child, seated on the Virgin's knee, leans forward to place the ring on St Catherine's finger. She kneels with a martyr's palm behind the enormous hub of her broken wheel and wears a golden robe like those worn by Doges of Venice. Her figure was painted over that of a Doge (whose cap is visible in X-rays). The other saints are Augustine, Mark (with lion) and a muscular John the Baptist (kneeling with lamb). Comparatively early (mid or late 1540s?). First recorded in 1748 in the collection of the Bavarian royal family at Munich. Taken to Paris by Napoleon's army in 1800 and sent to Lyon in 1805.
Macerata. Santa Maria delle Vergini. Ferri Chapel.
Adoration of the Magi. Canvas, 276 x 173.
Signed and dated 1587 (lower left). The execution is ascribed to the workshop or Domenico Tintoretto. After the church was shaken by the 2016 earthquake, the picture was moved to the museum (Palazzo Buonaccorsi). Restored in 2019.
*The Washing of Feet. Canvas, 210 x 533.
Usually assumed to be the original of a painting executed for the church of San Marcuola at Venice. Pallucchini (1976) argued that another version, at Newcastle, is the original, and that the Prado painting is an autograph replica of it. However, the primacy of the Prado version is suggested by both its high quality and the numerous pentimenti revealed by X-rays. A Last Supper, also painted by Tintoretto for San Marcuola’s Scuola del Santissmo Sacramento and still in the church, is dated 1547. The Washing of the Feet may be a year or two later. Evidence for this is provided by the dog in the foreground, which exactly replicates one in Jacopo Bassano’s Two Hunting Dogs (Louvre) commissioned in October 1548. The unusual placing of Christ, St John and St Peter on the extreme right suggests that the picture was intended to be seen from the side, but its original location in the church is uncertain. When Ridolfi wrote in 1642, the picture had already left the church, substituted by a copy. It was acquired for Philip IV of Spain by Alonso de Cárdenas at the Commonwealth sale of Charles I’s pictures. There are other versions of the composition at Wilton House, Salisbury, and at Toronto.
*Rape of Helen. Canvas, 186 x 307.
In the Iliad, the abduction of Helen from the house of Menelaus, son of the Trojan king Priam, was the act that provoked the Trojan War. Tintoretto's painting was probably influenced by a print, made some fifty years earlier by Marcantonio Raimondi after a design by Raphael or his workshop, which also casts the subject as a ferocious battle. In the left foreground, Helen is manhandled onto a ship, while fighting between the Greeks and Trojans rages on the shore. Arguably the finest of Tintoretto’s battle scenes, which include canvases for the Doge’s Palace and the Gonzaga cycle (now at Munich). Acquired by Charles I with the Gonzaga collection. Tintoretto is known to have painted a ‘naval battle’ for Cardinal Ercole Gonzaga in May 1562, but the Madrid picture appears to be substantially later than this (late 1570s or early 1580s). After Charles I’s execution, it was acquired by the Spanish ambassador Alonso de Cárdenas from the lawyer John Jackson.
Six Old Testament Scenes. Canvas, four around 58 x 116 and two 58 x 205.
The six scenes are the Finding of Moses, Susanna and the Elders, Esther before Ahasuerus, Judith and Holofernes, the Queen of Sheba visiting Solomon, and the Finding of Moses. The long horizontal paintings, which may date from the 1550s, presumably decorated a room in a Venetian palace, perhaps forming a frieze along the top of the walls. They were bought by Velázquez in Venice in 1649. Installed in a ceiling of the Alcázar at Madrid, and salvaged after a fire in 1734. An oval painting representing the Purification of the Midianite Virgins (295 x 181) was acquired by Velázquez with the six rectangular canvases and placed in the centre of the Alcázar ceiling. However, it appears to be a late studio work and not originally part of the same ensemble.
*Portrait of a Man with a Gold Chain (Nicolò Zen?). Canvas, 103 x 76.
One of Tintoretto’s finest portraits, possibly dating from the mid or late1550s. Recorded in 1666 at the Alcázar in Madrid, and possibly one of several portraits by Tintoretto acquired by Velázquez in Venice. The portrait was converted into an oval in the early eighteenth century but returned to its original shape later in the century. In the early twentieth century, the sitter was identified as Paolo Veronese (who was awarded a gold chain for his ceiling paintings in the Libreria Marciana). Recently, a resemblance has been noted with the portrait of the Venetian aristocrat Nicolò Zen (1515-65) by Titian at Kingston Lacy (Ornetta Pinessi in Arte Documento (2007)). The sitter appears clearly younger in the Titian portrait, which could date from the late 1540s.
Portrait of a Venetian General. Canvas, 82 x 67.
An inscription, removed in a restoration of 1951, identified the sitter as the Venetian admiral Sebastiano Venier. The pose, with the hand holding the staff of office thrust out towards the viewer, repeats that of the Sebastiano Venier in Vienna. The portrait, which may date from the early 1570s, was given to Philip IV by the Marqués de Leganés.
Portrait of Marco Grimani. Canvas, 77 x 63.
Marco di Niccolò di Giovanni Grimani (1508-83) was elected Procuratore de Citra in 1576, and he wears the fur-trimmed, deep red robes of his office. The elderly sitter was a contender for the office of doge in 1577 and again in 1578. Tintoretto’s portrait is probably from around this time. There is another version, possibly also at least partly autograph, at Vienna (the changes are so minimal that the composition was probably transferred by tracing). A bust-length replica in the British Royal Collection has been attributed to Tintoretto's workshop or to Domenico Tintoretto.
Woman revealing her Breasts (no. 382). Canvas, 61 x 55.
The subject has been supposed to be Veronica Franco, the famous Venetian courtesan and poetess, and briefly the lover of Henri III on his visit to Venice in 1574. A portrait of her by Tintoretto is recorded in an undated letter from her to the artist. The sitter bears a distinct resemblance to a portrait, said to be of Veronica Franco, in the Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts. It is possible that the picture is not a portrait as such but rather a 'bella donna' painting of the kind associated especially with Palma Vecchio and Paris Bordone. Long attributed to Jacopo Tintoretto, but now usually given to his son Domenico. From the collection of Philip IV (recorded at the Alcázar in 1666).
Woman covering her Breasts (no. 384). Canvas, 65 x 51.
Possibly a pair with the previous portrait. It has been supposed (without evidence) to be a likeness by Jacopo Tintoretto of his daughter Marietta. In her 1974 monograph on Tintoretto’s portraits, Paula Rossi judged it closer in style to Domenico (though the attribution to Jacopo was maintained in the Prado’s 1996 catalogue). Recorded in the Spanish royal collection since 1794.
Adoration of the Magi. Canvas, 174 x 203.
Recently rediscovered at Sabadell, and published in 2002 as a damaged very early work by Tintoretto. It was once in the convent of San Pascual at Madrid, where it was described in 1793 as already in very poor condition and ascribed to Schiavone.
Madrid. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection.
Tamar and Judah; Angel appearing to the Wife of Manoah. Canvas, each 150 x 155.
Two companion pictures on the theme of conception. The unusual subjects are taken from Genesis, 38, which recounts how Tamar obtained a child from her father-in-law by posing as a temple prostitute, and Judges,13, which describes the gift of a son (Samson) to the barren wife of Manoah. Published by Pallucchini (1969) as works of the late 1550s. The landscapes might have been painted by one of the Northern European artists working in Tintoretto's studio. Formerly in the Watney collection, London, and a private collection in Venice. Acquired by Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza around 1977.
Paradise. Canvas, 152 x 490.
This large oil sketch, acquired from a Swiss private collection in 1982, has been generally accepted as an authentic bozzetto or modello for the great canvas of 1588-92 in the Doge’s Palace. It could have been made either for the competition of the early 1580s (won by Veronese and Francesco Bassano) or after Veronese’s death in 1588, when the commission passed to Tintoretto’s workshop. Another bozzetto, in the Louvre, is not as close to the final canvas and is presumably earlier. Restored in 2012.
Portrait of a Senator (no. 399). Canvas, 119 x 100.
The magisterial sitter is shown three-quarter length, framed by curtains of red and gold silk brocade. He wears the official robes of a Venetian senator: the open 'ducal' sleeves of his crimson toga reveal the ermine lining and a stole of cut velvet is draped over his right shoulder. He holds a white handkerchief – fashionable prop and status symbol – in his right hand. Accepted as an autograph work and dated around 1570 by Paola Rossi in her 1974 monograph on Tintoretto's portraits. The surface has a marked craquelure. Acquired in 1968 from the Corsini collection in Florence.
Portrait of a Senator (no. 400). Canvas, 64 x 50.
A bust-length portrait of a Venetian senator in his official robes. Accepted as an autograph late work by Rossi (1974). Previously in an Italian private collection, it was acquired around 1930 by Hans Thyssen-Bornemisza from the Lucerne dealers Böhler & Steinmeyer.
Portrait of a Senator (traditionally called Luigi Cornaro). Canvas, 108 x 83.
Another of the numerous portraits of senators and magistrates attributed to Tintoretto and/or his prolific workshop. Formerly in the collection of Earl Spencer at Althorp House, where it was described in 1851 as a portrait of a ‘Vecchio Cornaro’ by Titian. Accepted as an autograph Tintoretto by Berenson (1932-57 Lists) and by Heinemann (in his 1958 and 1969 catalogues of the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection), but classed by Rossi (1974) among 'uncertain or erroneously attributed works'. Sold from the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection at Christie's, New York, in January 2014.
Madrid. Escorial. New Museum.
Christ in the House of Levi. Canvas, 145 x 205.
Originally in the church of Santa Maria Maddalena at Venice, where it was seen by Sansovino (1581) and Ridolfi (1648). It probably left the church in the eighteenth century when the church was reconstructed. The execution is sometimes ascribed to Tintoretto’s workshop. There is another version, signed and dated 1562, in the Museo Civico at Padua.
Esther before Ahasuerus. Canvas, 212 x 343.
One of two versions. The other, in the British Royal Collection, is narrower and excludes the two figures standing on the extreme right (one of whom, it has been suggested, is a portrait of Pietro Aretino). Although included among Tintoretto’s autograph works by Pallucchini and Rossi (1982), the Escorial picture is now usually regarded as a workshop replica. Recorded at the monastery since 1667.
Adoration of the Shepherds. Canvas, 432 x 186.
Bought in Venice, together with an Annunciation by Veronese, by the painter Nicolò Granello for 400 ducats in 1583. Both paintings, which are identical in size, had apparently been commissioned for the high altar of the Escorial, where they arrived in 1584. Tintoretto’s painting had already been removed from the altar by 1605. The composition is a reworking, in a tall vertical format, of the famous picture in the Sala Superiore at San Rocco. The design may be Jacopo’s, but the execution was probably delegated entirely to his son Domenico.
Entombment. Canvas, 110 x 135.
Recorded in the anteroom of the sacristy as a work of Tintoretto in 1667. Once regarded as a late work of Jacopo, it has been ascribed more recently to Domenico.
Madrid. Museo Cerralbo.
Portrait of a Man (Agostino Doria?). Canvas, 107 x 73.
The young man extends his left hand in what may have been intended as an orator’s gesture. The portrait was sketched by Anthony van Dyck in 1625, when he visited the Doria palace in Genoa. Van Dyck thought the portrait was by Titian, but a Doria inventory of 1721 gives Tintoretto as the artist. The sitter is often supposed to be Agostino Doria (1534-1607), who was a member of the most powerful family in Genoa and Doge of its Republic in 1603-5. If he were the sitter, the portrait would probably date from around the late 1550s. The paint, thickly worked on the face and hands, is affected by cracking. The Marqués de Cerralbo, who bequeathed his residence and art collection to the Spanish State in 1922, is thought to have acquired the picture in 1884 from the estate of the Marqués de Salamanca. The portrait has recently become better known, following its inclusion in the major Tintoretto exhibitions held at the Prado (2007) and Doge's Palace (2018).
Melbourne. National Gallery of Victoria.
*Portrait of Doge Pietro Loredano. Canvas, 107 x 91.
He wears his ceremonial hat (corno ducale) over a linen skullcap (camauro) and an ermine cape with gold harness-bell buttons over a gold brocade robe trimmed with fur. Loredano was Doge in 1567-70. Tintoretto’s ‘official’ portrait of him, painted for the Doge’s Palace, was destroyed in the 1577 fire. The Melbourne portrait may have been destined for the sitter's family or served as a ricordo (a painting that was kept in the studio as a reference from which replicas were made). There is another version – almost identical but arguably of lower quality – at the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth. Pentimenti, revealed by X-rays, have been cited as evidence that the Melbourne version is the original. From the collection of Prince Lichnowsky at Kuchelna Castle, Czechoslovakia. Acquired by the museum in 1928. A less formal, more sketchy portrait by Tintoretto at Budapest shows Doge Loredano seated.
*Finding of the Body of Saint Mark. Canvas, 405 x 405.
According to legend, in about the year 828 two Venetian merchants, Buono da Malamocco and Rustico da Torcello, removed the body of St Mark from its tomb in Alexandria and brought it to Venice. The Venetians are shown searching for the body in the wall tombs of a barrel-vaulted necropolis. St Mark appears (left) with his arm outstretched. On one interpretation, he is ordering the Venetians to stop looking, as his body – lying on a rug at his feet – has already been discovered. An alternative interpretation is that he is performing miracles of healing: raising the man on the rug from the dead; restoring the sight of a blind man (shown kneeling behind St Mark, pointing to his eyes); and exorcising a man possessed by demons (right foreground).
The picture is one of a cycle of three canvases commissioned in June 1562 by the wealthy physician Tommaso Rangone (who is portrayed very prominently as the kneeling donor in the centre) for the Salone Superiore of the Scuola di San Marco at Venice. The three canvases must have been finished by 1566, when they were seen by Vasari on his visit to Venice. The cycle was broken up during the Napoleonic suppressions, and the Finding of the Body of St Mark was sent to the Brera in 1808. Other canvases from the cycle – the Stealing of the Body of St Mark and St Mark saving a Saracen – are in the Accademia at Venice.
*Adoration of the Cross. Canvas, 275 x 165.
St Helena stands to the left of the cross and St Barbara (with her tower and martyr's palm) to the right. The saint standing at the left edge with a small double-barred cross is probably Macarius of Jerusalem, and the figure kneeling with a large cross could be St Andrew. Neither the donor kneeling on the right nor his patron saint have been identified. The altarpiece comes from the church of Santa Croce, Milan, where it is first documented in 1674. Transferred to the Brera in 1805 as a work of Paolo Veronese. Attributed to Tintoretto by Henry Thode in his 1901 German monograph. The picture has been identified with one representing St Helena that was commissioned in 1584 by the Scuola dei Tessitori (cloth weavers) for a chapel in the church of San Marcuola in Venice. However, this identification has been doubted recently on the grounds that, stylistically, the picture does not seem as late as this; a revised dating of around 1560 has been proposed.
Pietà. Canvas, 108 x 170.
Christ's body, bearing the wounds of the nails and spear and marks of the scourge, is stretched across the Virgin's knees. John the Evangelist supports his shoulders and Mary Magdalene throws her arms out in anquish. This lunette was originally in the courtyard of the Procuratia de Supra at Venice. Tintoretto was paid 25 ducats in part payment for the picture on 19 February 1563, and received the balance on 31 July 1571. He restored it himself in 1590, when it was installed in the interior of the new building by Scarmozzi. Sequestered for the Brera in 1808.
Allegory of Fortune(?). Canvas, 105 x 144.
The subject of the lunette is uncertain. On one interpretation, the woman in the centre, squeezing milk from her breast and brandishing a whip, personifies Fortune, and the harpy she is triumphing over represents Avarice. The three men on the right, kneeling and being sprayed with breast milk, hold a crown, sceptre and papal tiara and might represent the world's rulers. The three men on the left, threatened with the whip, might be philosophers. The picture was formerly ascribed to Andrea Schiavone. It was later identified with a canvas commissioned from Tintoretto in November 1562 to hang over a doorway in the Libreria Marciana. However, this identification has been doubted on the grounds that the picture is closer to TIntoretto's very early style (mid-1540s). Recorded at the Brera since 1812.
Milan. Castello Sforzesco.
Portrait of the Soranzo Family.
A large group portrait, with no fewer than fifteen likenesses, that has been cut into three parts. The central fragment (76 x 60) shows the family head, the Procurator Jacopo Soranzo. The two sides (152 x 215), showing members of his family, are damaged and badly restored, but appear to have been painted by several members of Tintoretto’s workshop (as many as four different hands may have been involved). Jacopo Soranzo's grandson (also called Jacopo) wears the double-rose chain awarded to him by Queen Mary of England in 1554 for his services as Venetian ambassador. There is another portrait of Jacopo Soranzo by Tintoretto in the Accademia at Venice. Both were probably painted shortly before his death on 11 November 1551.
Milan. Museo del Duomo.
*Christ among the Doctors. Canvas, 197 x 319.
This strange, sketchily painted picture is first recorded in the Galleria Archivescovada at Milan by Torre (1664), with an attribution to Tintoretto. The attribution was doubted for a time, but the picture is now accepted as a very early work (1542-43), reflecting the influence of Pordenone and Michelangelo. The general composition seems to have been loosely modelled on Raphael's great fresco of the School of Athens in the Vatican. It has been suggested (perhaps rather fancifully) that the left-hand group includes portraits of Titian (against the second column in a yellow hood), Tintoretto himself (the dark-eyed youth staring out of the picture) and Michelangelo (standing to his left).
Minneapolis. Institute of Arts.
Portrait of a Gentlewoman. Canvas, 147 x 119.
Inscribed with the sitter’s age: 32. Probably a pendant to the Portrait of a Senator in Los Angeles, which is exactly the same size. The portrait was bought by the Minneapolis Institute in 1924. It was accepted as a work of Jacopo Tintoretto by some writers (including Berenson and Pallucchini), but more recent attributions have been to his workshop or to Domenico Tintoretto. The sitter has been identified as Morosina Morosini-Grimani, who was born in 1545 and married Marino Grimani in 1560. Her husband was elected Doge in 1595, and Morosina is best remembered for the splendid celebrations marking her coronation as Dogaressa in 1597.
Raising of Lazarus. Canvas, 180 x 275.
The subject was popular in Venice, where Lazarus was regarded as a protector against the plague. Tintoretto (and his workshop) painted it at least seven times. None of the versions is an exact replica of any of the others, but the Minneapolis picture is similar in size and closely related in composition to one at Leipzig. It was probably produced in Tintoretto's workshop in the 1550s or 1560s. Previously in a private collection in Florence, it was acquired by the Institute of Arts in 1983.
Modena. Galleria Estense.
Mythological Scenes. Wood, 125/150 x 125.
These fourteen octagonal panels (there were originally sixteen) fit Ridolfi’s description of the ‘many fables from Ovid’ painted by Tintoretto for a richly coffered ceiling of Vettore Pisani’s palazzo in the locality of San Paterniano in Venice. They are very early, and may have been commissioned on the occasion of Vettere Pisani' s marriage in 1542 to Paolina Foscari. Painted with foreshortened and dramatically illuminated figures to give a trompe l’oeil effect when viewed from below, they may have been influenced by Giulio Romano’s ceiling frescoes in the Palazzo del Te, Mantua. They were bought in Venice as works of Tintoretto for Duke Francesco I d'Este in 1653, and installed in ceilings of the Palazzo Ducale at Modena. They were ascribed to Andrea Schiavone by Meyer and von Hadeln, but Pallucchini returned them to Tintoretto in his 1945 catalogue of the Modena Gallery.
Madonna in Glory with Saints. Canvas, 217 x 150.
The Madonna is crowned Queen of Heaven by angels. She is flanked by St Catherine of Alexandria (who holds a fragment of her spiked wheel and is handed a martyr's palm) and St Scholastica (who wears a Benedictine habit and is handed a crucifix). The saints below are Peter (with keys and book), Augustine, Paul (with sword) and John the Baptist (garbed in camel skin and holding a cross). Probably comparatively early (about 1550). Acquired for Duke Francesco I by 1653 through his agent in Venice, Clemente Molli. The picture is usually identified (without definite proof) with a Madonna and Saints painted by Tintoretto for the high altar of the church of San Benedetto at Venice. The altarpiece was probably removed from San Benedetto (located near the Campo di San Luca) when the church was rebuilt in 1619-29.
Munich. Alte Pinakothek.
*Venus, Mars and Vulcan. Canvas, 137 x 198.
In this humorous interpretation of the classical story of adultery, Mars, caught in Venus’s bedroom by her elderly husband Vulcan, hides under a table but is betrayed by a yapping dog. Vulcan, lifting the sheet from Venus, seems to be examining her genitalia. Cupid, Venus's child, lies in his cradle, feigning sleep. The scene is reflected in the large mirror (Mars's shield?) propped against the back wall. The figure of Cupid is probably based on Michelangelo's famous marble Sleeping Cupid. (The original sculpture, once owned by Isabella d'Este, was probably destroyed in the 1698 Whitehall fire. There is a copy at Corsham Court in Wiltshire.) The picture is usually dated to the 1550s, but has recently been put as early as the mid-1540s. Once owned by the painter Sir Peter Lely, it was bought by the Duke of Devonshire for £67 in 1682 and remained with the Devonshires until 1840. Bought by the Bavarian State in 1925 from the collection of the Munich portraitist Friedrich August von Kaulbach.
*Christ in the House of Mary and Martha. Canvas, 200 x 132.
The picture illustrates Christ’s visit to the two sisters of Lazarus in Bethany (Luke X, 38-42). Martha complained because her sister sat listening to Christ’s words while she was left to do all the work. Christ replied: ‘Martha hath chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her’. This splendid picture may date from around 1580. It was originally in the Fugger household chapel at Augsburg, which also included a Stigmatisation of St Francis by Tintoretto (now lost). Transferred to the Munich Gallery in 1803 when the Dominican church at Augsburg was secularised.
History of the House of Gonzaga. Eight canvases.
Four scenes from the lives of the Margraves of Mantua (270 x 420) were commissioned by Duke Guglielmo Gonzaga for the Sala dei Marchesi of the Castello at Mantua. They were finished by May 1579, when Tintoretto brought them personally to Mantua. A second series of four smaller pictures (210 x 280/330), showing scenes from the lives of Dukes Federigo II and Francesco III, was commissioned in October 1579 for the Sala dei Duchi. They were delivered in September 1580, when Tintoretto again travelled personally to Mantua to supervise their installation. Tintoretto was paid 400 scudi for the first set of paintings and 234 scudi for the second set. The canvases were doubtless largely designed by Tintoretto, but the execution is to a greater or lesser extent by assistants. In 1707, the last Duke of Mantua, Ferdinando Carlo, took the eight paintings with him into exile. They were sold after his death, a year later. They were probably acquired by Elector Max Emanuel, and are recorded in the 1748 inventory of the Schleissheim Gallery.
Nantes Musée des Beaux-Arts.
Portrait of a Man with Long Beard (Lorenzo Soranzo). Canvas, 63 x 51.
The youngish man, shown bust-length, has a ruddy complexion and very long reddish-brown beard. He has been identified as the Venetian patrician Lorenzo Soranzo (1519-75) on the strength of a resemblance to Tintoretto's portrait, dated 1553, at Vienna. It has been suggested that the Nantes painting was a life study for the Vienna portrait (although the position of the sitter's head is different). Acquired by the museum in 1810 with the purchase of the huge collection of paintings amassed by the Nantes-born diplomat François Cacault and his brother Pierre. Traditionally ascribed to Titian, it was attributed to Tintoretto by Berenson in the 1932 edition of his Venetian Painters.
New York. Metropolitan Museum.
The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes. Canvas, 155 x 408.
Christ hands St Andrew platters with the five loaves and two fishes to be distributed to the crowd. This long horizontal canvas was probably painted for the side wall of a chapel. A painting of Christ washing the Disciples' Feet at Toronto is identical in size and may have been painted for the opposite wall. Probably an early work (1545-50?), painted with workshop assistance. The picture once belonged to Sir Joshua Reynolds. It was acquired in 1839 by Henry Maxwell, Baron Farnham of County Cavan, Ireland. It remained with his descendants until 1913, when it was acquired by the Metropolitan Museum. A smaller picture by Tintoretto of the same subject, now in the Uffizi (Bonacossi Contini collection), repeats some elements of the composition.
*Doge Alvise Mocenigo presented to the Redeemer. Canvas, 97 x 198.
A large unfinished compositional sketch for the huge picture of about 1581-84 in the Sala del Collegio of the Doge’s Palace. On the right, John the Baptist, Louis of Toulouse, Nicholas of Bari and another saint. The two heads to the left of this group are probably Doge Alvise’s brothers, while the two figures, barely sketched in, behind the kneeling Doge are probably ideas for St Mark. The canvas was acquired in Venice by the German painter and art collector Carl Friedrich von Rumohr, who gave it to his protégé Friedrich Nerly. John Ruskin bought it in Venice from Nerly in 1852 for 50 napoleons. It was purchased from Ruskin’s cousin, Mrs Arthur Severn, by the art historian Langton Douglas, who sold it to the Metropolitan Museum in 1910.
Finding of Moses. Canvas, 78 x 134.
The Pharaoh's daughter watches as the nurse – actually Moses' own mother – lifts the baby from the basket (Exodus 2: 9). The scenes in the background (three women with fishing rods on the left and three men hunting deer on the right) have not been explained (and may be merely incidential). The execution is very sketchy – and it has even been suggested that the picture could be unfinished. An attribution to Domenico Tintoretto has occasionally been proposed (notably by Pallucchini and Rossi (1982)). The date is also disputed, with suggestions ranging from the 1550s to the 1570s. First recorded in the collection of the English painter Richard Westall, who was Queen Victoria's drawing master and known for his portraits of Byron. It later belonged to the painter, illustrator and author George Dunlop Leslie. Acquired by the Metropolitan Museum in 1939.
Portrait of a Man (no. 41.100.12). Canvas, 113 x 89.
This austere portrait shows a middle-aged man – grey-haired, clean-shaven, ruddy faced and dressed in black – seated against a dark, reddish-brown background. The picture is unrecorded before 1914, when it was already in the collection of the New York financier George Blumenthal. There were previous attributions to Titian and to Leandro Bassano, but the attribution to Tintoretto (published in the 1923 German monograph on the painter by Bercken and Mayer) has long been unanimous. The portrait, often considered an early work, was recently dated around 1560 (by Andrea Bayer in the Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Summer 2005). A small head-and-shoulders portrait in the British Royal Collection is clearly of the same man, and may have been a life study for the Metropolitan Museum picture.
Portrait of a Young Man (no. 58.49). Canvas, 138 x 107.
The inscription on the marble pedastal gives the date (1551) and the sitter's age (which can be read as either 20 or 30). Until 1911 the portrait was in the collection of the Marchesa Spinola of Genoa. It was then in the New York collections of Judge Elbert Gary and his widow Emma (until 1934) and of Lionel Strauss, who bequeathed it to the Metropolitan Museum in 1958. It appears to be in poor condition and was not normally on display. Sold by the museum in 2018 (22 May at Sotheby's, New York, for $325,000).
Newcastle. Shipley Art Gallery.
The Washing of Feet. Canvas, 216 x 533.
Usually thought to be a careful replica, painted by Tintoretto himself with studio assistance, of the picture in the Prado (though of such high quality that Pallucchini (1976) considered it to be the original painted for the church of San Marcuola in Venice). Acquired in London in 1814 by Sir Matthew White Ridley, who presented it the following year to the Cathedral of St Nicholas in Newcastle, where it hung for almost 150 years. Sold by the Chapter of St Nicholas in 1987 for £765,000.
Norfolk (Virginia). Chrysler Museum.
Spring. Canvas, 105 x 197.
Spring is represented by Flora – a strong Michelangelesque figure lying on the earth on her back with her foot resting against the trunk of a tree. She is decked with flowers and a green shoot seems to sprout from her body. The foliage, now distinctly brown, would originally have been a much brighter and fresher green. The painting is from a series representing the Four Seasons: Summer is in Washington; Autumn was formerly in a private collection at Bergamo (auctioned at Sotheby's, New York, in May 2018); and Winter is untraced. The paintings were originally elongated octagons, but have been converted into rectangles. Together with the Allegory of Dreams at Detroit, they decorated a ceiling in the Casa Barbo at San Pantaleon. The Spring was bought by Walter Chrysler in 1958 from a New York dealer (Newhouse Galleries).
Novo Mesto (Slovenia). Church (now Cathedral) of St Nicholas. High Altar.
Vision of St Nicholas of Bari. Canvas, 429 x 299.
St Nicholas, standing on a bank of cloud, contemplates the Trinity (depicted as God the Father supporting Christ on the cross with the dove of the Holy Spirit hovering above). Child angels hold the saint's mitre and crosier, and the three golden balls, his familiar attribute, lie on the cloud by his feet. The two saints below, also standing on clouds, have been identified as the early Christian martyrs Hermagoras, the first Bishop of Aquileia, and his deacon Fortunatus. The altarpiece was probably commissioned by the Patriarch of Aquileia (either Giovanni Grimani or Aloisio Giustiniani), after the church of Novo Mesto had been severely damaged by fire. It is usually dated around 1582 and the execution is usually ascribed largely to Tintoretto's workshop. Restored in 2009.
Otterlo (Netherlands). Kröller-Müller Museum.
Portrait of a Man aged Twenty-Six. Canvas, 130 x 98.
One of Tintoretto's finest early portraits. It shows a young aristocrat, three-quarter length, standing in front of a low parapet. His long black coat is lined with lynx fur. The inscription on the parapet, bottom left, gives his age, 26, and the date, the 'sixth month of 1547'. (On the old Venetian calendar, the sixth month would be August rather than June.) Evidence on the provenance of the portrait and the sitter's identity is somewhat conflicting. A coat-of-arms on the back of the canvas has been identified as that of the Giustinian-Lolin family of Venice. (The family died out in the early nineteenth century, and its palazzo on the Grand Canal was then occupied by the noted physician, writer and collector Francesco Aglietto.) An inscription on the frame gives the name 'C. Giusto', while another inscription (presumably English) reads 'Count Balbi, Venezia'. The portrait was acquired by Hélène Kröller-Müller in 1921. Sometimes overlooked because of its out-of-the-way location, it was included recently in major exhibitions at the Prado (2007), Boston Museum of Fine Arts (2009) and Louvre (2009-10).
Oxford. Ashmolean Museum.
Resurrection of Christ. Canvas, 161 x 153.
The canvas was originally octagonal and has been extended on each side. It was possibly a ceiling painting. Catalogued as a work of Tintoretto by the museum, though the execution is rather crude and perfunctory. A variant at Stuttgart has been attributed to Domenico Tintoretto. The composition of both versions is related to that of the large canvas, painted in about 1578-81, for the upper hall of the Scuola di San Rocco. First recorded in the nineteenth century (as by Giorgione) in the collection of the Duke of Hamilton. Bequeathed to the museum in 1946 by Gaspard O. Farrer (son of the collector Sir William Farrer, who owned several paintings attributed to Tintoretto).
Oxford. Christ Church.
Martyrdom of St Lawrence. Canvas, 124 x 188.
Probably inspired by one of Titian’s two pictures of the subject, one painted for the Gesuiti in Venice and the other for the Escorial. So freely painted that it has the appearance of a large compositional sketch. Borenius, in his 1916 catalogue of the Christ Church pictures, ascribed it to the School of Tintoretto, but it is usually accepted as at least partly autograph by more recent critics. Sometimes identified with the ‘small narrative painting of St Lawrence on a gridiron’ by Tintoretto mentioned by Ridolfi (1648), which had been rejected by the Bononi family for their altar in San Francesco della Vigna at Venice and subsequently acquired by ‘Signor Procurator Morosini’. However, Tintoretto’s rejected painting is perhaps more likely to be another version – smaller, signed and probably slightly earlier – which surfaced on the London art market in 1991 and is now in an American private collection. The Oxford picture may date from the late 1570s or early 1580s. Bequeathed to the college by John Guise in 1763.
Portrait of a Man. Canvas, 146 x 88.
He is thirtyish with a full moustache, wears a black satin tunic trimmed with fur, holds a pair of gloves in his right hand and rests the back of his left wrist on his hip. Bequeathed to the college by General Guise. It appears in the first printed catalogue of the collection (around 1770) as 'the portrait of Spagnuotto by Tintoretto'. The attribution was doubted for a time, but was reaffirmed (after cleaning) by Tancred Borenius in a note in the January 1938 Burlington Magazine, and has since been generally accepted. It is thought to be a comparatively early portrait, perhaps painted in the early 1550s.
Padua. Museo Civico.
Christ in the House of Simon the Pharisee. Canvas, 214 x 146.
The subject is from Luke's Gospel (7: 36-50). The sinful woman – traditionally identified as Mary Magdalene – washes Christ's feet with her tears and dries them with her hair. Commissioned by the Abbot Placido da Marostica for Santa Maria Assunta, the church of the Benedictine Abbey of Praglia (some 12 km southwest of Padua). Signed and dated 1562 – but Tintoretto's signed pictures for provincial patrons were often executed by assistants. Transferred to the museum in 1862.
Eight Mythological Scenes. Canvas, 200 x 140.
These eight scenes, together with two others in a private collection, formed a cycle. In 1874 all ten canvases were in the Palazzo Pisani Moretta in Venice with an attribution to Andrea Schiavone. The eight canvases were bequeathed to the Padua Museum in 1968 by the Contessa Giulia Giusti del Giardino (heiress of the Pisani). They were attributed to Tintoretto by Pallucchini and Rossi (1982), but have sometimes been assigned to his circle or following.
Crucifixion. Canvas, 206 x 268.
Possibly the painting recorded in an inventory of the pictures in the Palazzo Pisani at Santo Stefano, Venice, as ‘an imitation of Andrea Schiavone’. Bequeathed to the museum in 1875 by Abate Giuseppe Valentinelli. Catalogued at first simply as a work of the Venetian School and attributed (by Adolfo Venturi) to Dario Varotari (a Veronese painter active in Padua). The attribution to Tintoretto was made by Fiocco (1942). The picture – which has stylistic similarities with such very early works as the Christ among the Doctors (Museo del Duomo, Milan) and the Conversion of Saul (Washington) – has been dated to the early or mid-1540s. Doubt has been recently cast on the attribution by Robert Echols (Artibus et Historiae (1995)). He suggests that the foreground figures were painted by Giovanni Galizzi (a Bergamasque imitator of Tintoretto) and that the landscape was painted by Maarten de Vos (a Flemish painter active in Venice between 1552 and 1556). The reattribution has not been generally accepted. The picture was thoroughly restored in 2012. The colours have irreversibly darkened – the Virgin's blue mantle and the green vegetation now appearing quite brown.
*Susanna and the Elders. Canvas, 167 x 238.
Susanna is naked at her bath, having her hair dressed and toenails clipped by maidservants. She is spied upon by the two lecherous elders, who are hiding behind a table (upper right). The subject is from the Old Testament (the Book of Daniel in the Latin Bible and the Apocrypha in the KIng James version). Its considerable popularity in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries arose partly from its moral messages (the value of chastity and criticism of lust in old men and abuse of civic power) but partly also from the opportunity it offered to depict female nudity. This version of the subject is usually dated around 1550, and is probably somewhat earlier than the picture by Tintoretto of the same subject at Vienna. Acquired by Louis XIV in 1684 with the collection of the Marquis Hauterive.
*Paradise. Canvas, 143 x 362.
A large oil sketch (bozzetto or modello) for the huge canvas in the Sala del Maggior in the Doge’s Palace. Several other large sketches for the project exist: by Veronese (Lille Museum), Bassano (Hermitage), Palma the Younger (Ambrosiana, Milan) and another by Tintoretto (Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Madrid), which is closer than the one in Paris to the final canvas and presumably later. The Paris bozzetto was usually assumed to date from the 1580s, but it could be as early as the mid-1560s, when the Venetian authorities first considered the possibility of covering up Guariento’s deteriorated fresco. A newly discovered source (published by Laura Moretti in the July 2020 Burlington Magazine) reveals that the painting was already on display at the Palazzo Bevilacqua in Verona by March 1584. Seized by Napoleon from the Palazzo Bevilacqua in May 1797 and placed in the Louvre in July 1798.
*Self-Portrait as an Old Man. Canvas, 61 x 51.
The elderly artist has depicted himself with unflinching realism. His skin sags, his eyes are deeply sunken, and his hair and beard are white. The portrait belonged to the German dealer and collector Hans Jacob Köning, whose gallery of some sixty portraits, sold after his death in 1603, included ten attributed to Tintoretto. The portrait is recorded next in the possession of Princess Henrietta Anne, daughter of Charles I of England and wife of Philippe I d'Orléans, at the Palais-Royal in Paris. It later hung in the Château de Saint-Cloud, the Duc d'Orléans' palace outside Paris. The portrait was acquired with the château in 1785 by Queen Marie Antoinette, and it was taken to the Louvre in 1792, when the château was declared a bien national during the French Revolution. A later inscription, giving Tintoretto's name in large capital letters across the top of the picture, was removed in a recent restoration. An engraving by the Flemish artist Gijsbert van Veen states that Tintoretto painted the self-portrait on his seventieth birthday, ie. in 1588-89. The engraving was reproduced by Ridolfi in his Life of Tintoretto. There is a copy by Manet, said to have been painted in 1854, in the museum at Dijon.
Paris. Church of Saint-François-Xavier.
Last Supper. Canvas, 240 x 335.
Painted (as stated in the inscription) in 1559 for the Cappella del Sacramento in the church of San Felice at Venice. It seems to have left the church between 1815 and 1819. It was found in a damaged state in the Calle della Ca d’Oro, and then went to France. The picture includes portraits of contemporaries, some of which Tintoretto apparently had to redo. The frontal composition is a variation on that of the Last Supper of 1547 in San Marcuola. Judas, seated on the near side of the table, hides his purse with the twenty pieces of silver behind his back. The execution seems rather coarse, and Tintoretto’s assistants are likely to have played the major part.
St Jerome in Penitence. Canvas, 205 x 132.
This little known picture was ‘published’ only in 2005, when it was included in the Spendeur de Venise exhibition at Bordeaux and Caen. It has been ascribed to ‘Tintoretto and workshop’ and dated around 1575.
Philadelphia. Museum of Art.
*Self-Portrait as a Young Man. Canvas, 45 x 38.
Probably painted around 1546-48, when Tintoretto was approaching thirty. Ridolfi records youthful self-portraits by Tintoretto in the possession of the sculptor Alessandro Vittoria and the lawyer Nicolò Crasso. The Philadelphia portrait was formerly believed to be an autograph replica of the one in the Victoria and Albert Museum, but it is now usually acknowledged as the original. Previously in the collections of the New England man of letters and Harvard professor Charles Elliot Norton and the Italian-American intellectual and author Max Ascoli. It was donated to the museum by Marion Ascoli, Max Ascoli's widow, in 1983.
Poznan. Narodowe Muzeum (on loan from 2000 to 2014).
Siege of Asola. Canvas, 197 x 468.
As explained on the cartouche (bottom right), the picture commemorates the successful defence of Asola in 1516, when the Lombard town was besieged by the forces of Emperor Maximilian I. Two episodes are represented: the defenders and besiegers clash outside the town's walls (left) and the town's citizens pay homage to the Venetian provveditore (governor) Francesco Contarini (right). Attributed to Tintoretto as an early work of the mid-1540s. Once in the famous collection of Prince Giovanelli at San Felice, Venice. After the collection was dispersed in the early 1930s, the picture passed, via Contini Bonacossi, to the New York dealer Stanley Moss. Bought in 1982 by Barbara Piasecka Johnson (a Polish immigrant who had controversially inherited a vast fortune from her husband John Seward Johnson) and placed on loan with the Poznan museum in 2000. Mrs Piasecka Johnson died in April 2013, and the picture was sold from her estate at Christie's, London, in July 2014 for £1.142 million.
Prague. Národní Muzeum (Sternberg Palace).
Saint Jerome(?). Canvas, 75 x 56.
The elderly man with a long grey beard, called St Jerome on account of his halo and cardinal’s robe, has the character of a portrait. On loan from Prague Castle.
Prague. Castle Gallery.
Woman Taken in Adultery. Canvas, 109 x 156.
The adulteress – a pretty blonde woman dressed in pink – is brought before Christ by grey-bearded 'scribes and Pharisees'. Christ, pointing at her, saves her from stoning with the words: 'He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her' (John 8: 7). An early work, generally dated around the mid-1540s and showing the influence of Mannerist art in the elongated figures and convoluted poses. At Prague Castle since 1732, when it was transferred from Vienna as a work of Tintoretto.
*Flagellation. Canvas, 165 x 129.
This almost monochromatic picture, depicting the brutal subject with dramatic vigour, is probably a work of Tintoretto's early maturity (mid-1550s?). It was one of more than a hundred paintings acquired in 1650 by Archduke Leopold Wilhelm for the collection of his brother Emperor Ferdinand III at Prague Castle when the Duke of Buckingham’s collection was sold in Holland. Originally square (measuring around 180 x 180 according to the 1648 Buckingham inventory), it was cut down (removing most of the jailers on the left) to fit into some wood panelling when the castle was remodelled in the 1760s. The full composition is recorded by a copy made by the Prague court painter Johann Christian Schröder (Ptuj Castle, Slovenia).
Adoration of the Shepherds. Canvas, 129 x 192.
Long neglected, this picture has been recently attributed to Tintoretto as a very early work, dating from around 1542-44. Described as badly damaged when transferred to Prague Castle from Vienna in the 1670s, it was subsequently cut down and heavily restored. Recent cleaning has removed old repaint and revealed the picture’s quality. There is a similar picture at the Castelvecchio in Verona.
Princeton (New Jersey). University Museum of Art.
Hermit or Poet in a Forest (St John on Patmos?). Wood, 59 x 45.
This mysterious little oil sketch on panel is recorded in the 1675 inventory of Cardinal Leopoldo de' Medici's collection at Florence, and was later at the Medici villa at Poggio a Caiano. It was sold in 1831 to an English collector, the Reverend John Sandford, and was for many years in a Scottish collection. It passed into the hands of a New York dealer before the Second World War, and was gifted to the Princeton museum in 1942. The panel was once widely accepted as an autograph study (bozzetto) for a lost or unexecuted late work (1580s). The attribution has now been doubted, however, and the museum has reassigned the painting to a follower.
Queensland. Art Gallery.
Risen Christ. Canvas, 201 x 139.
Christ rises from the tomb, holding the banner of the Resurrection and making a sign of benediction. The size, shape and subject of the picture suggest that it was painted as an altarpiece, and the low viewpoint suggests that it was hung quite high. A relatively early dating has been suggested (mid-1550s). Nothing is known of the picture's history before the early 1970s, when it was in a private collection in London. Acquired by the Queensland gallery in 1981 from the Heim Gallery, London.
Raleigh (North Carolina). Museum of Art.
Vulcan’s Forge. Canvas, 78 x 133.
Attributed to Tintoretto as an early work. Pallucchini (1965) thought that it belonged to the same ceiling decoration as the Apollo and Marsyas, which was mentioned in a letter by Pietro Aretino of 1545 and is now in the Wadsworth Atheneum at Hartford. Formerly in the Steinhardt collection, Paris; donated by Mr and Mrs W. Lunsford in 1957.
Reading (Pennsylvania). Public Museum (on loan from the Wernerville Jesuit Centre).
Raising of Lazarus. Canvas, 107 x 147.
Dated to the mid-1550s by Pallucchini and Rossi, as perhaps Tintoretto’s earliest treatment of a subject that he painted at least seven times. Frederick Ilchman (in the catalogue to the 2007 Tintoretto exhibition at the Prado) expressed a poorer opinion of the picture, suggesting that the composition ‘was laid out by Domenico but worked up by a weaker assistant’. First recorded in 1879 in the collection of former Glasgow MP William Graham, and later owned by William Farrer of London and Enrico Galeazzi of Rome. Bought by Nicholas Brady of New York in 1928 for $35,000 and donated by him to the Jesuit Centre at Wernerville, where it was rediscovered in 1999 and placed on indefinite loan to the Reading Public Museum.
Richmond (USA). Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
Portrait of Andrea Barbarigo. Canvas, 114 x 94.
He poses beside a suit of armour. A naval battle is viewed through a window. Inscribed with the sitter’s name and the date 1569. A couple of years after the portrait was painted, Andrea Barbarigo commanded a Venetian galley (Fortuna) at the Battle of Lepanto (1571). He was one of three members of the Barbarigo family to lose their lives in the battle. Tintoretto may just have painted the sitter's head and left the rest of the picture to an assistant. Formerly in the London collections of the Tory politician George Cavendish-Bentinck and his son-in-law Arthur James.
Rome. Galleria Nazionale (Palazzo Barberini).
Christ and the Adulteress. Canvas, 119 x 168.
This picture is possibly the Adulteress (with 'Our Lord pointing with his finger at the letters written on the ground' and 'the scribes and pharisees concealing themselves behind the columns of a colonnade that forms a splendid perspective') described by Ridolfi in his Life of Tintoretto (1642) in the house of Vincenzo Zeno at Venice. It had entered the collection of the Chigi family by 1666, and was given by Prince Chigi to the museum in 1902. The attribution has occasionally been doubted, eg. by Maxon (in a 1961 article in Critica d’Art), who christened an anonymous follower of Tintoretto the ‘Maestro dell’Adultera Corsini’ after this picture. Some of the works ascribed to this hypothetical figure have been recently linked (by Robert Echols in a 1995 article in Artibus et Historiae) with Giovanni Gallizzi, a Bergamasque assistant, collaborator or follower of Tintoretto.
Rome. Galleria Colonna.
*Narcissus. Canvas, 147 x 190.
The beautiful youth falls in love with his own reflection in a woodland pool. The two small figures in the landscape might be Narcissus and Echo (the nymph who fell in love with him and was spurned). The picture may date from the 1550s. It has been recorded in the Colonna Gallery, as a work of Tintoretto, since 1714. It is stylistically very close to, and of the same size as, the Susanna and the Elders in Vienna, and was possibly painted as a pendant to it. A damaged variant, probably from Tintoretto's workshop, was acquired in 2017 by the museum at Wroclaw (Poland).
Rome. Galleria Doria-Pamphili.
Portrait of a Young Gentleman. Canvas, 102 x 89.
The young man, with short hair and a reddish-brown beard, wears a dark fur-lined coat, which he pulls around himself with his left hand, and holds a hat in his right hand. Shown three-quarter length from the side, he turns his gaze somewhat furtively towards the viewer. The picture is fancifully recorded in an old catalogue as a portrait of Charles II by the Venetian school. The attribution to Tintoretto was published in 1925 (by Mary Pittaluga in Dedalo). Usually dated comparatively early (1550s).
Rotterdam. Boymans-Van Beuningen Museum.
The Wise and Foolish Virgins. Canvas, 72 x 90.
The parable is told in Matthew's Gospel (chapter 25). The scene is set in a Renaissance palazzo, where the wedding feast (viewed through the upper arches on the right) is taking place. The bridegroom and five wise virgins lean over a balcony, addressing the five foolish virgins, who have been excluded from the feast and are belately lighting their lamps in the courtyard below. A foolish virgin holds a banderole pleading: 'Lord, lord, open to us'. The bridegroom holds one replying: 'Verily, I say unto you, I know you not'. The picture first came to light when it was auctioned at Christie's of London in 1939. It was published as an early work of Tintoretto in 1950 by Pallucchini (La Giovinezza del Tintoretto). A subsequent attribution to the so-called Maestro dell'Adultera Corsini (a hypothetical follower named after a picture in the Galleria Nazionale at Rome) was later abandoned. There is another version at Upton House, Warwickshire.
Virgin and Child. Canvas, 104 x 87.
The composition repeats that of the Virgin and Child in a larger picture at Cologne (which also includes St Elizabeth, St Joseph and the infant St John). The picture was formerly considered one of Tintoretto's most youthful works. But following the reappraisal of Tintoretto's early paintings proposed by Robert Echols (1995), it is sometimes now suspected to be a work executed by Tintoretto's studio (or Giovanni Galizzi). Formerly in the Auspitz collection, which was purchased by David George van Beuningen after the Viennese banking family was ruined in the 1931-32 financial crash.
St Petersburg. Hermitage.
*Birth of St John the Baptist. Canvas, 181 x 266.
The scene is set in a fine Venetian chamber. In the background, a servant brings refreshment to the elderly mother, St Elizabeth, who lies in a canopied bed. In the foreground, the Virgin Mary, a wet nurse and a bevy of serving maids prepare to wash, swaddle and feed the baby. The burnt animal bones in the copper basin are for purifying water. The cockerel might symbolise St John's role in heralding the coming of Christ, while the cat stalking it might symbolise his cruel death. The father, Zacharias, stands on the right in rich red robes. Always catalogued as a work of Tintoretto by the Hermitage, and accepted as such in Pallucchini and Rossi’s 1982 monograph with a fairly early dating (mid-1550s). Some other critics have preferred an attribution to Tintoretto’s workshop or school. There is another, upright version, replicating the main group of three female figures, in the church of San Zaccaria in Venice. Once in the Paris collection of Cardinal Mazzarin (where it was called the Nativity of the Virgin); acquired in 1772 with the Crozat collection.
Salisbury. Wilton House.
The Washing of Feet. Canvas, 147 x 253.
The composition repeats some of the elements in the Foot-Washing painted in about 1548 for San Marcuola (original in Madrid and another version in Newcastle). Probably a later product of Tintoretto’s workshop. Recorded in the Pembroke Collection since 1731.
San Francisco. Young Memorial Museum.
Portrait of a Gentleman. Canvas, 99 x 74.
An early, Titianesque portrait. The coat-of-arms, upper right, identifies the sitter as a member of the Renialme family. Once owned by Rubens and acquired by Philip IV of Spain at the painter’s sale. Donated by Rudolf Heineman in 1952.
São Paulo. Museu de Arte.
'Ecce Homo'. Canvas, 109 x 136.
Christ – stripped, bound, crowned with thorns and holding a reed sceptre – is led out onto the steps of Pontius Pilate's palace. Pilate, placing his hand on his heart, presents Christ to the crowd with the words 'Ecce Homo' (John 19: 5). The asymmetric composition, with Christ placed at the side, was doubtless suggested by Titian's famous Ecce Homo of 1543 in the Kunsthistorisches Museum at Vienna. Tintoretto's canvas may have been painted just a few years later (around 1546-47). It was once with the Sedelmeyer Gallery in Paris and later in a private collection in Milan. Acquired by the museum in 1949.
Sarasota. John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.
Samson and Delilah. Canvas, 127 x 147.
Poorly preserved. Late. Acquired from a private collector in New York in about 1927. Another version – extended with additional figures – at Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, is traditionally ascribed to Tintoretto but is more probably by his workshop (or son Domenico).
Seattle. Art Museum.
Portrait of Gabriele Emo. Canvas, 117 x 90.
Gabriele Emo (1531/36-80) was, as the inscription states, Prefect of Brescia when the portrait was painted in 1572. He wears the robes of a Venetian procurator. From the collections of Cavendish Bentinck and Arthur James (London) and Contini Bonacossi (Florence). Acquired by Samuel H. Kress in 1950.
Selva del Montello (Province of Treviso). Parish church.
Crucifixion. Canvas, 230 x 122.
In a highly traditional composition, the Magdalen clasps the foot of the cross, while the Virgin and St John stand grieving at the sides and small flying angels catch Christ's blood in chalices. Probably the altarpiece (representing 'Christ on the cross, the Virgin mother, St John the Evangelist and the Magdalen at the foot of the cross') mentioned by Boschini (1674) in the church of Santi Cosma e Damiano on the Giudecca. It stood in the chapel to the left of the high altar of the Benedictine convent church, which was closed in 1808. Probably a very early work (around 1546-48). On loan from the Venice Accademia.
Portrait of a Man aged Twenty-Eight. Canvas, 113 x 91.
The young man, with a ruddy complexion and ginger beard, wears a garment of embroidered black silk. He rests his right arm on a desk covered by an oriental carpet and his left hand on the hilt of his sword. The inscription gives his age and the date March (or May) 1548. The portrait was once owned by the patrician Foscari family, for whom it might have been painted. It was one of several paintings by Tintoretto acquired in the nineteenth century by the wealthy English landowner Robert Stayner Holford, who displayed his celebrated collection at Dorchester House, Park Lane. After the Holford collection was sold at Christie's in 1927, the portrait passed into German private collections and was acquired by the Stuttgart gallery in 1964.
Tokyo. National Gallery of Western Art.
Portrait of a Young Man as David. Canvas, 125 x 97.
The young man, presumably called David, is shown in the guise of the Old Testament hero. He holds a sling in his left hand and supports a huge sword with his right. The body of the decapitated giant Goliath is shown in the background and the Philistines can be seen fleeing in the distance. A strong resemblance has been noted between the young man and the sitter in Veronese's Portrait of a Young Man wearing a Lynx Fur at Budapest. Dated about 1555-60 by Rossi (1974). First recorded in the collection of the Scottish shipbuilder Robert Napier (died 1876). Later owned by the art historian Kenneth Clark. Acquired by the Tokyo museum in 1971 from Agnew's.
Toronto. Art Gallery of Ontario.
Christ washing the Feet of His Disciples. Canvas, 155 x 408.
One of several versions. The original was painted around 1548 for the church of San Marcuola at Venice and is now in the Prado, Madrid. There is a replica of the Prado picture in the Shipley Art Gallery at Newcastle. The Toronto version is somewhat smaller. There is also a variant, squarer in format, at Wilton House in Wiltshire. From at least the mid-nineteenth century, the Toronto painting was paired with the Miracle of Loaves and Fishes (Metropolitan Museum, New York). The two large and long horizontal canvases are likely to have hung opposite each other on the side walls of a chapel used by a confraternity devoted to the Eucharist (Scuola del Sacramento). The Foot Washing was formerly in the collection of the Barons of Farnham of Farnham in County Cavan, Ireland. It was loaned in 1959 to the Art Gallery of Toronto, which subsequently bought it for $100,000.
Turin. Galleria Sabauda.
The Trinity. Canvas, 122 x 181.
Recorded in the Palazzo Durazzo, Genoa, in 1766 as a fragment of a picture destroyed by fire. Probably the upper part of an altarpiece described by Boschini and Ridolfi in the church of the convent of San Girolamo at Venice. The altarpiece, which was about four metres high, included Saints Adrian, Francis and Anthony (or Augustine) beneath the Trinity. It was probably commissioned by Piero Alessandro Lippomani (whose family palazzo, near the Venetian church of Santa Fosca, had frescoes painted by Tintoretto on the façade) in about 1561-62.
**St Mark freeing a Slave. Canvas, 415 x 541.
The picture depicts a posthumous miracle of St Mark recounted in the thirteenth-century Golden Legend. St Mark, dramatically foreshortened, swoops down to rescue a servant of a Knight of Provenance, who had been condemned to have his eyes put out with sharp spikes, his legs cut off with axes and his mouth beaten with a heavy hammer for going on a pilgrimage to Venice to worship the relics of the saint. A turbaned man holds up the bits of the broken hammer, while the shattered fragments of the spikes and axes lie on the ground. The slave's astonished master (who subsequently converted to Christianity) watches from the podium on the right. The onlookers are thought to include portraits of Tommaso Rangone (the wealthy physician from Ravenna who seems to have financed the commission and is shown watching the scene from the lower left edge), Pietro Aretino (leaning out between the two columns) and Tintoretto himself (right edge). The picture was probably composed, in the way described by Ridolfi, by suspending small model figures of wax or clay in a box illuminated by lamps.
Signed 'JACOMO TENOR' (lower right), and the earliest work certainly by Tintoretto to bear his signature. It was painted for the Sala Capitolare (Chapter Hall) of the Scuola Grande di San Marco, and originally hung on a wall opposite the altar, between two large windows overlooking the Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo. It was begun in 1547 and finished by April 1548, when Aretino praised it in a letter. Ridolfi says that the confraternity were divided on whether to accept the picture, angering Tintoretto who took it back and kept it in his house for a time. Despite its controversial reception, the picture made Tintoretto’s reputation. It was plundered by the French in 1797, and entered the Accademia after its return from Paris in 1815. The bright, sharp colours were restored to their original intensity by cleaning in 1966. (Remains of the thick coating of discoloured varnish were left by the restorers in the lower corners, but have been removed in a subsequent cleaning.)
*Stealing of the Body of St Mark. Canvas, 398 x 315.
The Christians of Alexandria, taking advantage of a divinely-inspired storm, carry off the body of the saint, which was about to be burned by the pagans. One of a series of canvases painted by Tintoretto between 1562 and 1566 for the Sala Superiore of the Scuola Grande di San Marco at the expense of the Guardian Grande, Tommaso Rangone da Ravenna. Rangone himself is portrayed in the picture, in his official robes, holding the head of the saint in a manner reminiscent of Joseph of Arimathea holding the head of Christ in an Entombment or Lamentation. Rangone is also portrayed prominently in other pictures in the series. In 1573, Tintoretto was instructed to replace these portraits by other figures, but this was evidently not done. The other pictures in the series are St Mark saving a Saracen from a Shipwreck (also in the Accademia) and the Finding of the Body of St Mark (Brera).
*St Mark saves a Saracen from a Shipwreck. Canvas, 398 x 337.
Venetian merchants were sailing on a ship with some Saracens (Arabs) when a storm broke. The Venetians escaped on a small rowing boat, but the Saracens remained aboard the ship, which sank beneath a great wave. However, one Saracen, who pledged to be baptised a Christian, was saved by St Mark, who appeared miraculously to pull him out of the water and place him safely in the boat with the Venetians. According to Ridolfi, the sailor in the ‘ducal dress of gold’ is the philosopher Tomaso da Ravenna. Together with the Stealing of the Body of St Mark, the picture was taken from the Scuola di San Marco to the Doge’s Palace in 1807. It was moved to the Palazzo Reale Libreria in 1815 and finally to the Accademia in 1920.
Dream of St Mark. Canvas, 388 x 314.
Legend relates that when St Mark was visiting Aquileia, his boat was blown off course and ended up in the Venetian lagoon. An angel appeared as he was sleeping saying: 'Peace to you, Mark my evangelist, here your body will rest'. On 28 December 1585, Jacopo Tintoretto promised to produce a cycle of paintings for the new chapel of the Scuola Grande di San Marco in return for membership of the Scuola for his son Giambattista, son-in-law Marco Augusta and two friends. The Dream of St Mark was the one painting delivered in Jacopo's lifetime. He may have contributed to its design, but his son Domenico appears to have been responsible for the execution. The other paintings for the chapel were eventually executed by Domenico after his father's death (apart from the altarpiece, which was painted in 1614 by Palma Giovane). After the Scuola was closed during the Napoleonic suppressions, the paintings from the chapel were moved to the library of the Seminario and thence to the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli on the island of Murano. The Dream of St Mark was transferred to the Accademia in 1924. Domenico Tintoretto's canvases were returned to the Scuola (now the civic hospital of Venice).
*Creation of the Animals. Canvas, 140 x 196.
God the Father (somewhat resembling the figure in Michelangelo's Creation of Adam) is shown flying through the air with his hand raised in the act of creation. Pairs of birds (including swans, curlews, cormorants(?) and pheasants(?)) race across the sky and species of fish (led by a sturgeon) speed through the sea. The creatures on the shore include deer, rabbits and/or hares, a porcupine, ostrich, hedgehog, tortoise, hyena(?) and unicorn. The picture was one of a cycle of scenes from Genesis painted for the Sala dell’Albergo of the Scuola della Santissima Trinità. The cycle was begun by Francesco Torbido, who painted three or four canvases in 1545-47, and completed by Tintoretto in about 1550. Four of Tintoretto’s five paintings survive – three in the Accademia and one (a fragment of Adam and Eve before God the Father) in the Uffizi. The lost picture showed the Creation of Eve. The Scuola’s original headquarters, located at the eastern tip of Dorsoduro, was demolished in 1631 to make way for the church of the Salute, and the Scuola was moved to another site not far away. During the Napoleonic occupation, the Scuola was suppressed and the pictures became state property. The Creation of the Animals was transferred to the Accademia from the storerooms of the Doge’s Palace in 1928.
*Adam and Eve. Canvas, 150 x 220.
Eve, moving round the trunk of the Tree of Knowledge, offers the forbidden fruit to Adam. In the background, a fiery angel drives the sinners from the Garden. Painted in about 1550 for the Scuola della Trinità. Taken to the Accademia in 1812 when the Scuola was suppressed. It has been cut down at the sides, removing part of the landscape on the left. The complete composition is recorded in an early eighteenth-century etching by Andrea Zucchi.
*Cain and Abel. Canvas, 140 x 196.
Cain, the firstborn of Adam and Eve, murders his brother Abel out of jealousy, after God had accepted Abel's offering and rejected his own. The killing takes place on the sacrificial stone altar, and the head of Abel's decapitated sacrificial calf is seen lying on the ground by the tree. In the right distance, the tiny figure of Cain is seen with a staff on his shoulder 'wandering as a fugitive and vagabond in the earth'. The canvas has been cut down on the right, and the full composition (recorded in Andrea Zucchi's etching) included God, hovering in the sky, putting his curse on Cain. The picture is the last of Tintoretto’s paintings for the Scuola della Trinità. The composition seems to have been inspired by Titian’s ceiling painting of 1542-44 for Santo Spirito (now in the sacristy of the Salute). With the low viewpoint, the foreshortened figure of Abel seems tumbling forward out of the picture. Transferred to the Accademia in 1812.
*St Louis and St George and the Princess. Canvas, 226 x 146.
St George addresses the Princess Sabra, who sits astride the vanquished dragon with her girdle tied around its neck. Her distorted reflection appears in the breastplate of the saint's shining black armour. The youthful St Louis of Toulouse wears a bishop's cope over his grey Franciscan habit. The first of many pictures painted by Tintoretto and his workshop for the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi. The Palazzo dei Camerlenghi, an ornate Renaissance edifice situated at the foot of the Rialto Bridge, housed eighteen departments of state concerned with finance and commerce. The building was completed in 1529 and the rooms were to be decorated with paintings paid for by the patrician officeholders themselves. Tintoretto succeeded the Veronese artist Bonifazio de' Pitati, who supplied paintings to the camerlenghi through the 1530s and 1540s. The St Louis and St George and the Princess was commissioned for the Sala del Magistrato del Sale. It was customary for magistrates on their retirement to offer a votive painting of their name saints to the magistracy, and the picture was apparently commissioned by Giorgio Venier and Alvise Louis Foscarini, who retired on 13 November 1551 and 1 May 1552 respectively. The two magistrates' coats-of-arms are displayed in the centre of the platform on which the saints are standing. From 1777 to 1937 the picture hung in the antichiesetta, the small church, of the Doge’s Palace.
St Jerome and St Andrew. Canvas, 225 x 145.
The two saints, both aged but muscular nudes, are engaged in conversation. St Andrew stands with his cross, while St Jerome is seated with one book (perhaps the New Testament) on his knee and another book (perhaps the Old Testament) open on a lectern beside him. Like the St Louis and St George and the Princess, this large arched painting was commissioned for the Sala del Magistrato in the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi by two retiring magistrates: in this case, Andrea Dandolo and Girolamo Barnardo, who retired between September and October 1552. The picture was transferred to the Accademia in 1937 from the Doge’s Palace.
*Madonna, Three Saints and Three Donors. Canvas, 221 x 521.
The three saints, around the enthroned Madonna, are Sebastian, Mark and Theodore. The three donors are treasurers: they are accompanied by their secretaries, one of whom holds a sack of money. Some areas (including the faces) have been brought to a high level of finish, while others (such as the garments) are left remarkably free and unresolved. An inscription (bottom half) gives the date, 1566. Transferred from the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi to the church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo in 1817, and from there to the Accademia in 1883.
Assumption of the Virgin. Canvas, 240 x 134.
The figure of the Virgin, soaring heavenwards, is similar to that in the Assumption in the Gesuiti. There are three obvious portraits among the Apostles (one at the left edge and the others either side of the Virgin). A small altarpiece from the church, now demolished, of San Stin (Santo Stefanin or San Stefano Confessore) in Campo San Stin, near San Polo. Transferred to the Accademia in 1814 following the Napoleonic suppressions. Placed on deposit at the Cathedral of Torcello from 1928 until 1955, when it was restored (and returned to its original arched shape). Comparatively early (around 1550-55).
*Presentation of Christ in the Temple. Canvas, 239 x 298.
The Temple in Jerusalem is envisaged as a semi-circular Renaissance apse with classical pilasters and statues in shell niches. The Virgin Mary is about to hand the infant Jesus to the aged High Priest Simeon, while other mothers wait to be purified after childbirth and have their children circumcised. The pair of doves required for Mary's ritual purification are seen on the table. The picture was commissioned, probably around the mid-1550s, by the Scuola d'Arte dei Botteri (guild of coopers or barrelmakers). The little barrel on the altar step is a symbol of the Scuola's patronage. The Scuola, which was dedicated to the Purification of the Virgin, met in the church of Santa Maria dei Crociferi, and the picture originally hung on one of the side walls of the chancel. Tintoretto also painted the Assumption of the Virgin for the high altar of the church. (The Assumption is still in the church, now rebuilt and called the Gesuiti, though not on the high altar.) Opposite the Presentation, on the other side wall of the chancel, was a Visitation by Andrea Schiavone (commissioned by the varoteri, furriers' guild, and now lost). After the church was rebuilt in 1715-28, the Presentation was moved to the sacristy. Its transfer to the Accademia in 1906 pre-empted a sale to the National Gallery, London, that had already been approved by the Italian government.
*Deposition. Canvas, 227 x 294.
This powerfully dramatic picture depicts the moment after Christ has been taken down from the cross. The Virgin Mary swoons as her son's dead body is placed across her knees and Mary Magdalene throws her arms out in anquish as she looks into his face. Joseph of Arimathea, supporting Christ's shoulders, is allegedly a portrait of Tommaso Rangone (the Venetian physician and scholar, and patron of Tintoretto, Sansovino and Vittoria). The figure of the dead Christ closely resembles that in Michelangelo's famous marble Pietà in St Peter's. The picture came from the Venetian monastic church of Santa Maria dell'Umiltà, where it may originally have stood over the high altar. The church was taken over by the Jesuits in 1549-50 and the picture was probably commissioned a few years later. It was ignored by sixteenth-century writers, but was described by Boschini (1664) as being 'over the altar' of the church and by Zanetti (1771) as hanging 'over the large window'. The Umiltà monastery, situated on the Zattere between the Rio della Salute and the Dogana da Mar, was closed in 1806, and the picture was taken to the Accademia by 1821, when both the church and monastery were demolished to make way for the Seminario Patriarcale. Old repaint and darkened varnish was removed in a 2008-9 restoration. It was discovering during the restoration that the picture, now horizontal, was originally almost square, having additions some 30 cm. wide on each side.
*Crucifixion. Canvas, 282 x 445.
Over fourteen feet wide, the painting presents a teeming panorama of Golgotha – with Christ hanging dead on the cross between the two thieves, Roman soldiers throwing dice for his clothes and, at the base of the cross, the Virgin fainting into the arms of two Holy Women. Probably painted around the mid-1550s, some ten years earlier than the great picture in the Scuola di San Rocco. Originally in the Scuola del Santissima Sacramento in the Venetian church of San Severo. According to Ridolfi, the church fathers had wanted Veronese to paint the picture, but Tintoretto talked them into giving him the commission, promising that he would paint it in the manner of Veronese. The asymmetric composition, with the three crosses placed somewhat to the right, suggests that the picture hung on the left wall of the chapel. In 1793 it was moved to the Scuola del Rosario in Santi Giovanni e Paolo. Transferred to the Accademia in 1891. It was restored in the 1940s and again in 1966, and in 2017-18 underwent treatment to tackle cracking and flaking and remove discoloured varnish and old repaint. The British Royal Collection preserves a fine study, rapidly drawn in black chalk on blue paper, for the turbaned man standing at the foot of the ladder.
*Madonna in Glory with Saints. Canvas, 347 x 254.
The Virgin and Child, on a massive bank of cloud, are worshipped by five saints. The two female saints are Cecilia (identified by her organ) and Marina (who holds a child in her arms). The warrior saint, dressed in armour and bearing a martyr's palm, is usually identified as Theodore but is probably Secundus. St Cosmas and St Damian kneel below in their doctors' robes. From the Benedictine convent church of Santi Cosma e Damiano on the Giudecca. It hung over an altar, on the east side wall of the church, which contained relics of Saints Cosmas, Damian and Secundus. The inclusion of St Marina in the altarpiece must commemorate Abbess Marina Celsi, who founded the convent in 1481, while the presence of St Cecilia probably commemorates the nun Cecilia Morosini, whose father Gabriel was a major benefactor. The picture was probably painted between 1579 (when payment was made to a stonemason for the construction of the altar) and 1583 (when the altar and church were dedicated). Taken to the Accademia after the convent was closed in 1808. The lower part of the picture has been damaged, probably by candle smoke, and has been restored several times. Heavy repaint was removed in 1959. The clouds, now very dark, appear much brighter in old photographs. Tintoretto also painted an early Crucifixion for the church of Santi Cosma e Damiano; this is now on loan from the Accademia to the parish church at Selva del Montello (near Treviso).
Portrait of Jacopo Soranzo. Canvas, 106 x 89.
Jacopo Soranzo (1467-1551), head of one of Venice’s most aristocratic families, held the office of Procurator from 1522, and the building in St Mark’s Square that housed the Procuratoria is glimpsed on the right. The portrait was probably painted shortly before Soranzo’s death in November 1551. It was transferred to the Accademia in 1812 from the Procuratie de Supra in the Doge’s Palace. There is another portrait of the elderly Soranzo (the central fragment of a large family portrait) in the Castello Sforzesco at Milan. In the 1540s, Tintoretto had frescoed the facade of the Soranzo family palazzo in Campo San Polo.
Portrait of Alvise Mocenigo. Canvas, 116 x 97.
Alvise Mocenigo was Doge from 1570 to 1577. The portrait is first recorded in the seventeenth century in the Procuratia de Ultra of the Doge’s Palace. There is another version, probably from Tintoretto's workshop, at Berlin.
Resurrected Christ blessing Three Senators. Canvas, 92 x 417.
From the Magistrato dei Provveditori in the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi. The three persons have been identified as Giovanni Soranzo, Paolo Antonio Falier and Fantin Michiel, who were in office from September 1559 to July 1561. Their family coats-of -arms are bottom left. The picture was described as by Jacopo Tintoretto by the old writers (Boschini and Zanetti), but some modern critics have ascribed it to his workshop or to Domenico.
Portrait of Antonio Cappello. Canvas, 114 x 80.
The sitter was identified by an inscription (removed, along with nineteenth-century repainting, during restoration in 1959). Antonio Cappello was appointed Procuratore de Supra (responsible for the administration of St Mark's Basilica) in 1523 and held the prestigious position for some forty years. He is known for his role in managing major public construction and artistic projects, including the design of the Rialto Bridge, the building of the Biblioteca Marciana and the decoration by Veronese and Zelotti of the ceiling of the Stanza del Consiglio dei Dieci in the Doge's Palace. His palazzo (now the the Ca' Cappello Layard) on the Grand Canal was decorated with frescoes by Veronese and Zelotti that were praised by Vasari and Ridolfi. The portrait, thinly painted on coarse canvas, probably dates from the 1550s or early 1560s.
Portrait of Andrea Cappello. Canvas, 115 x 86.
The sitter is identified by the Cappello coat-of-arms, bottom right, and the initial ‘A’. He was elected Procuratore de Ultra (responsible for the administration of charity in the sestieri of Dorsoduro, Santa Croce and San Polo) in 1537 and died in 1564.
Portrait of Doge Girolamo Priuli. Canvas, 102 x 84.
Girolamo Priuli was Doge from 1559 to 1567. The Council of Ten paid Tintoretto 25 ducats for this – or another – portrait of the Doge on 23 December 1560. The execution appears to have been left largely to an assistant. Originally shaped as a lunette, it was cut down after it was taken to Vienna in 1838. Returned to Venice in 1919. There were formerly other versions at the Getty Museum (deaccessioned in 1992) and the Detroit Institute of Arts (deaccessioned in 2002).
Resurrection. Canvas, 159 x 232.
This picture was noted by Boschini (‘the risen Christ, with soldiers, by the hand of Tintoretto’) in the Sala dello Scudo of the Doge’s Palace. It was probably painted largely by workshop assistants.
Virgin and Child with Four Provveditori. Canvas, 188 x 146.
Painted in 1553 for the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi. It was the third canvas painted by Tintoretto for the Camerlenghi's offices. It differs from the first two paintings – the St Louis and St George and the Princess and the St Jerome and St Andrew – in representing the patrons by their portraits rather than by their name saints. While the two earlier paintings are of fully autogragh quality, the Virgin and Child with Four Provveditori was executed with substantial studio assistance. The picture, which appears to have been cut down by some 40 cm. at the bottom, was restored in 1953, when it was on loan to the Correr Museum. (Earlier photographs show it with a square rather than arched top.) It does not appear to have been exhibited for many years.
Venice. Museo Correr.
Santa Giustina and Three Donors. Canvas, 216 x 183.
This painting hung in the Sala del Magistrato of the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi. The inscription, bottom right, gives the date, 1580, and the initials and coats-of-arms of the three treasurers (Marco Giustiniani, Angelo Morosini and Alessandro Badoer). It is a late, routine composition, and was probably painted by an assistant (perhaps Domenico Tintoretto). Restored in 2017-18 (when repaint was removed from the saint's face). The two hundred or so paintings from the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi – the Venetian Exchequer near the Rialto Bridge – were dispersed after Napoleon conquered Venice in 1797. Many have ended up at the Accademia and Venice's other museums, some are in private collections and around a half are lost.
Venice. Ca d’Oro. Galleria Franchetti.
Portrait of Nicolò Priuli. Canvas, 125 x 105.
Probably one of Tintoretto's earliest portraits of a notable person. It is usually assumed to have been painted between 1545, when the Priuli was elected procurator, and 1549, when he died. It could conceivably be even earlier, as the sitter wears a plain black fur-lined garament rather than a procurator's official red robes. The letter 'N' and the Priuli coat-of-arms are shown at the base of the column, bottom right.
Venice. Palazzo Ducale.
*Atrio Quadrato. Ceiling. Doge Priuli before Justice. Canvas, 230 x 230.
The large central octagonal shows Doge Girolamo Priuli kneeling in homage before Justice, who presents him with her sword and scales. The other allegorical female figure is identified as Venice by Borghini (1584) and other early writers, but is now usually thought to represent Peace (she has a circlet of olive leaves on her upper arm). The saint accompanying the Doge is called Mark by early writers, but is almost certainly Jerome (Girolamo Priuli's name saint). Around the octagon are four rectangular Old Testament scenes in bronze-cloloured monochrome: the Judgement of Solomon (representing Wisdom); Solomon and the Queen of Sheba (representing Wealth); Samson defeating the Philistines (representing Strength or Power); and Esther before King Ahasuerus (representing Liberty). In the four corners are putti representing the Seasons. Girolamo Priuli was Doge between 1559 and 1567, and the ceiling was probably painted in the early or mid-1560s. The paintings and the elaborately carved and gilded wooden framework were both restored in 2018.
**Four Mythologies. Canvas, each about 150 x 160.
Richly coloured and highly finished, these are Tintoretto’s most famous mythological pictures. They represent the Seasons and the Elements
Mercury and the Three Graces represents Spring and Air. The Grace in the centre gives a white rose to the one on the right, who holds a sprig of myrtle. The Grace leaning back on the left rests her hand on a dice. Mercury, wearing his winged helmet and holding his caduceus, appears in the upper left background.
The Marriage of Ariadne and Bacchus represents Autumn and Water. Ariadne, sitting on a bank, is offered the ring by Bacchus, standing in the water. Venus, hovering overhead, crowns her with stars and guides her hand towards Bacchus.
Minerva dismissing Mars represents Summer and Earth. Mars, in armour, is pushed away by MInerva, who protects Peace (wearing an olive wreath) and Abundance (holding a cornucopia).
Vulcan’s Forge represents Winter and Fire. Armour and weapons lie discarded on the floor of the forge as Vulcan and his assistants fashion tools. Olive trees grow in the winter landscape.
According to Ridolfi, the four paintings are also political allegories, symbolising respectively: the ‘favours bestowed by the Senate on its deserving citizens’; Venice’s ‘prosperity’ and ‘freedom’; the ‘Republic’s wisdom in keeping war far away from the state’; and ‘the unity of the Venetian Senators in the administration of the Republic’. They were painted in 1577-78 for the Atrio Quadrato (Tintoretto receiving 217 ducats, 1 lira and 16 soldi on 10 November 1578), and transferred to the Anticollegio nearby in 1716. Restored in 2017.
Sala del Collegio.
*Four Votive Pictures of Doges.
These canvases are presumed to have been painted between 1581 (when they received no mention in Francesco Sansovino’s Venetia Città Nobilissima) and 1584 (when they were recorded in Borghini’s Il Riposo). Tintoretto appears to have acted mainly as a designer, delegating the execution of the canvases to a number of different workshop assistants.
Over the entrance: Doge Andrea Gritti before the Virgin (360 x 500). The kneeling Doge Gritti is introduced by St Mark to the Virgin, who is enthroned on a pedestal at the top of a steep flight of steps. St Marina ('Marina the Monk') holds a martyr's palm. Two Franciscan saints, Bernardino of Siena and Louis of Toulouse, stand at the right edge. The picture is a replacement for (and partial replica of) one by Titian, which was painted in 1531 and destroyed in the fire of 1574.
The other three canvases hang on the long wall opposite the fireplace. Over the door to the Sala del Senato: the Marriage of St Catherine with Doge Francesco Donà (360 x 470). The subject was chosen because Doge Donà (or Donato) was elected on St Catherine's Feast Day (24 November 1545). The kneeling Doge, introduced by St Mark, watches reverently as the Christ Child slips the wedding ring on St Catherine's finger. St Francis, the Doge's name saint, appears on the right, displaying the stigmata on his hands. Two angels descend with a gift of fruit.
In the middle of the wall, opposite the windows: the Virgin in Glory with Doge Niccolò da Ponte (360 x 520). Angels hold a canopy over the Holy Family, which appears on clouds. Three saints, also on clouds, intercede on behalf of the kneeling Doge. St Anthony Abbot, commonly invoked for protection against disease, is identified by his tau-shaped staff with a tiny bell attached to the handle. St Mark, patron saint of Venice, stands behind the Doge. St Nicholas of Bari, the Doge's name saint, is accompanied by child angels – one (overhead) holding his bishop's mitre and an olive branch and another (on the ground) gathering his three gold balls. In the background is a glimpse of Venice viewed from the lagoon. Ridolfi says the picture was signed, but no trace of a signature remains.
At the left end of the wall: Doge Alvise Mocenigo adoring the Saviour (390 x 660). The Doge, kneeling in the centre of the picture, is introduced by St Mark to Christ, who swoops in from the left, accompanied by an angel. The saints on the right (John the Baptist, Louis of Toulouse, Nicholas of Bari and an unidentified kneeling saint) are probably name saints of members of the Doge's family, and the two men in contemporary dress at the extreme right edge are probably the Doge's brothers, Giovanni and Nicolò. In the background is a view of the Piazzetta San Marco, with the Campanile on the left, the Libreria Marciana on the right and warships at anchor in the distance. A vigorous, unfinished compositional oil sketch for the painting (bozzetto) once belonged to John Ruskin and is now preserved at the Metropolitan Museum, New York.
Tintoretto's workshop also painted the figures in grisaille around the clock.
Sala del Senato.
Doge Loredan praying to the Virgin. Canvas, 380 x 360.
The Doge implores the Virgin to save Venice (the Piazza San Marco is seen in the background) from the plague. The picture is described as a work of Tintoretto by Ridolfi (1642) and other early writers; but while the conception is possibly his, the execution is clearly not and is now variously attributed to his workshop, his son Domenico or to Palma Giovane. Also by Tintoretto’s workshop (or school) are the Descent from the Cross with Doges Pietro Lando and Marcantonio Trevisan Adoring, over the throne, and Venice exalted among the Gods, the centrepiece of the ceiling.
Sala delle Quattro Porte.
The ceiling was designed by Palladio and the stucco work was carried out by Giovanni Cambi (‘Il Bombarda’). The frescoes by Tintoretto and his assistants in the vault were probably painted in 1578-81. They have suffered badly from old restorations. In the large central rectangle (500 x 290) Jove Proclaims Venice Queen of the Sea. Francesco Sansovino, who devised the program, described the subject as follows: 'Venice is guided by Jove to these waters, for she was created by the order of God, so that religion and Christian liberty might be preserved there'. Jove has descended from Olympus, where Apollo is seated with the other gods. He resembles Christ and Venice is personified as a statuesque beauty holding the baton of military power. He takes her by the hand and points her towards the sea. In one of the two large circles (290 in dia.) Juno bestows Gifts on Venice. The goddess presents a peacock, and her attendants hold a thunderbolt, tambourine, pomegranate and hawk. In the other large circle Venice proclaims Liberty. She is held aloft by two attendants and triumphantly displays a broken yoke and chain. Two supporters brandish Phrygian caps on spears, while Envy (with writhing snakes) lies among the vanquished. The eight smaller ovals represent territories subject to Venice: Verona (with its Roman arena), Istria, Brescia (with armour), Padua (with books), Fruili, Treviso (with a sword), Vicenza (with fruits of the earth) and Altino (with ruins).
Sala del Maggior Consiglio.
*Paradise. Canvas, 700 x 2200.
At the top centre of the vast composition, Christ and the Virgin Mary are seated in glory on clouds filled with angels. The Archangel Gabriel, holding the lily of the Annunciation, approaches the Virgin from the left, while the Archangel Michael, with his sword and scales of justice, is to the right. The Four Evangelists are seated in an arc, below, holding their Gospels. Adam and Eve, praying in penitence, are just to the right of St John. Old Testament patriarchs and prophets (including Moses with his tablets, King David and a turbaned KIng Solomon side by side, and Noah holding up his ark) are towards the left of the picture.The Four Doctors of the Church (Jerome as cardinal, Gregory as pope, and Augustine and Ambrose as bishops) are towards the right. The rest are Christian saints and martyrs. There are said to be some eight hundred figures in all.
The gigantic canvas, hanging above the benches of the Signoria, was once the largest oil painting in the world. It replaced Guariento’s fourteenth-century fresco of the same subject, which was damaged beyond repair in the fire of 1577. In the early 1580s the Senate invited several prominent artists, including Francesco Bassano, Veronese, Palma Giovane and Tintoretto, to submit designs for a painting of Dante’s Paradise. As a result of this competition, the commission was given to Veronese and Francesco Bassano; but when Veronese died in 1588, neither he nor Bassano had started on the picture, and the commission must have passed to Tintoretto. The actual execution was probably largely by Domenico Tintoretto, with the help of other assistants. The picture was probably completed in 1592, just two years before Tintoretto’s own death. It has been restored many times. (The repainting done in 1755 by Francesco Fontebasso seems to have been especially invasive and was much criticised at the time.) A thorough modern restoration was carried out in 1982-85.
Tintoretto's earlier ideas for the Paradise are recorded in two large compositional oil sketches: one in the Louvre and the other in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum (Madrid). Both include the Coronation of the Virgin in the centre of the composition, but differ substantially from the final painting.
The Triumph of Doge Niccolò da Ponte. Canvas, 1170 x 690.
The Doge, standing with his senators at the top of an impossibly steep monumental stairway, is offered the olive wreath of peace by Venice, who is seated on a cloud surrounded by airbourne allegorical figures. On the stairs, secretaries to the Senate bring petitions and ambassadors of Venice's dominions bring the charters and keys of their subject terriorities. Towards the foot of the steps, soldiers lounge with their weapons, shields and furled banners. This huge ceiling picture was executed by Tintoretto’s workshop in 1581-84. According to Ridolfi, it received a hostile reception from some senators, who complained that Tintoretto ‘had dashed it off as a practice work’.
Sala dello Scrutino.
Battle of Zara. Canvas, 640 x 1060.
The Venetians recaptured the city of Zara in 1346 after it had been taken by King Louis of Hungary. The picture is recorded by Girolamo Bardi in 1587, but not by Borghini in 1584, which suggests that it was painted between these two dates. According to some critics, it was executed partly by Andrea Vicentino, who was responsible for several of the other battle scenes in the room.
Saletta degli Inquisitori.
The central octagon (203 x 203) depicts the Return of the Prodigal Son and the four surrounding rectangular canvases (72 x 210) show allegorical female figures representing Justice, Faith, Charity and Fortitude, Probably painted around 1566-67. Restored in 2018. The room – one of the stanze secrete – may only be visited by prior reservation.
Venice. Scuola di San Rocco.
The grandiose Renaissance Scuola was built between 1517 and 1560. Tintoretto's stupendous decoration of the rooms began four years after the building work was completed and continued over the next two and a half decades (1564-88). It remains almost completely intact. It comprises twenty-seven canvases for the ceiling and walls of the Hall of the Hostel (Sala dell'Albergo), twenty-five canvases for the ceiling and walls of the Upper Hall and eight large canvases for the Lower Hall.
*St Roch in Glory. Canvas, 240 x 360.
This canvas, the central oval in the carved and gilded ceiling, is the first of Tintoretto’s paintings for the Scuola, done in June 1564. Vasari, who visited Venice in 1566, tells the story of the competition for the decoration of the room. When the other competitors (Giuseppe Salviati, Veronese, Zuccaro and Schiavone) had exhibited their drawings and designs, Tintoretto unveiled his picture, which he had secretly fixed up in the centre of the ceiling. In the uproar that followed, Tintoretto donated the picture to the Scuola. The St Roch in Glory now stands out among the canvases of the Albergo because of the use of high quality pigments (including expensive ultramarine blue), which have retained their original brilliance. Among the smaller paintings on the ceiling are five representing the other Scuole Grandi of Venice.
**The Crucifixion. Canvas, 536 x 1224.
This enormous painting hangs over the benches of the officers of the confraternity, stretching over forty feet across the whole of the wall opposite the entrance. The inscription (bottom left) gives the artist’s name and the date, 1565. On 9 March 1566 Tintoretto was paid 250 ducats for the work. Tintoretto portrayed himself, on the right of the picture, as a labourer leaning on a stone bank and contemplating the scene. The painting received immediate acclaim. The first of many engravings was made in 1582 by Agostino Caracci for Cardinal Ferdinando de’ Medici. Ridolfi says that when Agostino showed Tintoretto his engraving, Tintoretto was so delighted with the result that he ‘embraced Agostino with great emotion and praised him extravagantly’. (Caracci's copperplate was acquired by the dealer Daniel Nijs, who took it to Flanders and supposedly faced it with gold to prevent its deterioration.)
The extent to which the colours have darkened is revealed by a small strip of framed canvas (58 x 25) depicting Three Apples that is normally displayed beneath the Crucifixion. The strip of canvas, a fragment of the frieze, was discovered folded under the framing during a 1905 restoration and the colours, protected from the light, have retained their original freshness. A restoration of the Crucifixion was underway from early 2023 and is expected to take two years.
*Scenes from the Passion.
After finishing the Crucifixion in 1565, Tintoretto painted in 1566 and early 1567 three other scenes from the Passion of Christ on the opposite wall. The compositions have been ingeniously adapted for the unusual architectural spaces. On the right, Christ before Pilate (510 x 380); over the door (wedged into a rectangular section missing a triangular section at the bottom), the Crowing of Thorns (260 x 350); and on the left, the Ascent of Calvary (515 x 390).
Upper Hall. Ceiling.
**Old Testament Scenes.
The Scuola took the decision to decorate the ceiling on 6 May 1574. On 2 July 1575 (when the woodwork was finished and being gilded) Tintoretto offered to paint the large central square (840 x 520) free of charge, promising to finish it by Saint Roch’s Feast Day, 16 August. The subject (from Numbers 21: 6-9) is the Brazen Serpent, which alludes to the Scuola’s function in caring for the sick. (When the picture was painted, the plague was raging in Venice.) The vengeful God the Father appears explosively in the heavens amidst a throng of acrobatic angels. The hillside, below, is covered by the writhing bodies of those bitten by the 'fiery serpents' sent to punish the Israelites for their disobedience. On the summit of the hill, Moses is seen urging the people to save themselves by gazing upon the bronze serpent coiled around a cross.
On 20 January 1577 Tintoretto started work on the other two main ceiling paintings (each 550 x 520). Their subjects refer to the Scuola's charity in feeding the poor, and probably also have Eucharistic associations. The canvas at the far end of the room depicts Moses Drawing Water from the Rock (Exodus 17: 2-6 and Numbers 20: 2-11). God the Father – a huge figure astride a cloud in the top right corner – observes as Moses strikes the rock face with his rod. The water, spouting from the rock in great arcs, is caught by the thirsty Israelites in bowls, jugs and pans. The other canvas depicts the Miracle of Manna (Exodus 16: 2-4). Shepherds shelter with their sheep under a makeshift canopy, slung between olive trees, as God the Father appears as a radiant image in the darkening sky. Pellets of bread (manna) fall like large snowflakes on the hungry Israelites.
The eighteen smaller ceiling canvases were probably painted in 1577 and 1578. Of these, the eight diamond-shaped sections painted in chiaroscuro were replaced by copies by Giuseppe Angeli in 1777-78.
**Life of Christ. Ten Canvases, each about 540 high.
On 27 November 1577, Tintoretto undertook to paint ten canvases and an altarpiece for the Upper Hall, promising to deliver three finished paintings each year on Saint Roch’s Feast Day. He was guaranteed an annual income of 100 ducats. The ten huge canvases for the walls were finished, on schedule, in the summer of 1581. Their subjects are typologically related to the Old Testament scenes on the ceiling. (Thus the Fall of Man foreshadows the Temptation of Christ, Jacob’s Ladder the Ascension and Moses drawing Water from the Rock the Baptism.) The altarpiece, the Apparition of St Roch, was not painted until 1588 and is considered to be partly (or largely) the work of assistants.
**Life of the Virgin. Six canvases, each 425 high and 480-590 wide.
The earliest of the series, the Adoration of the Magi, was finished in July 1582. The last, the Circumcision, hung in August 1587, is the only one of the series not largely from Tintoretto’s own hand. The six pictures, which had been made dark and gloomy by repainting, dirt and old varnish, were thoroughly restored, like most of Tintoretto’s paintings in the Scuola, at the end of the 1960s and early 1970s. They are the finest of the artist’s late works.
At the far end of the Lower Hall are two vertical canvases (425 x 210) depicting solitary female figures – one reading and the other meditating – in twilight wooded and watery landscapes. The figures are traditionally called Mary Magdalene and Mary of Egypt, but both seem more likely to represent the Virgin Mary. A thorough restoration of the two canvases was completed in January 2019.
*The Visitation. Canvas, 158 x 237.
Elizabeth appears to catch Mary as she stumbles; St Zacharia stands on the right; Joseph appears lower down on the left. The picture hangs high over an arch on the main staircase, opposite Titian’s Annunciation. It was taken down in 1936, and was displayed until recently in the Upper Hall. It has now been returned to its original location. It is recorded, together with the altarpiece of the Apparition of St Roch, in a receipt for 16 ducats signed by Tintoretto on 15 May 1588.
Portrait of a Man. Canvas, 72 x 57.
The middle-aged man, with hands crossed in devotion on his chest, was traditionally identified as Tintoretto himself. The date, 1573, is inscribed on the background. The portrait is sometimes displayed in the Upper Hall.
Restoration work on paintings in the Scuola was carried out by Domenico Tintoretto as early as 1602. Subsequent restorations are recorded in 1672-73 (canvases in the Sala dell'Albergo), 1678 (Assumption of the Virgin), 1696 (Pool of Bethesda), 1777 (ceiling canvases in the Upper Hall) and 1834 (Assumption of the Virgin). In the 1850s, John Ruskin described canvases 'hanging down in ragged fragments'. Before the major restoration of 1969-74, the paintings were so dark that the subjects were sometimes almost indecipherable. All the canvases in the Scuola were restored again in 1993 in preparation for the four-hundredth anniversary celebrations of Tintoretto's death.
Venice. Libreria Sansoviniana. Great Hall of the Old Library.
*Philosophers. On separate canvases, 250 x 160.
Five or six of the ten full-length paintings of ancient philosophers in simulated niches around the walls are usually attributed to Tintoretto and his workshop (the four on the right wall nearest the entrance from the Correr Museum and one or both of those on the adjacent end wall). All the paintings have lost their inscriptions, and the only philosopher that can be positively identified is Diogenes (wrapped in a simple cloak and with a hefty tome open across his knee). Payments to Tintoretto are recorded in 1571 and 1572. The paintings were transferred to the Doge’s Palace in the eighteenth century but restored to their original location in 1815. Two were taken to Vienna in 1838 during the Austrian occupation and returned in 1919, while others were damaged when the Campanile collapsed in 1902.
Venice. Ca' Rezzonico. Mestrovich Collection.
Christ taken down from the Cross. Canvas, 140 x 70.
The dead Christ is supported under the arms by John the Evangelist, who is half in shadow. Mary Magdalene holds Christ's right foot with one hand and places her other hand on her breast. Two elderly donors, probably husband and wife, meditate on the tragic scene. This intense devotional picture might have been painted as the altarpiece for a small family chapel. Attributed to Tintoretto in 1969 (by Pallucchini) and dated around 1560.
Portrait of Francesco Gherardini. Canvas, 70 x 60.
The inscription, on the right, gives the sitter's name (in abbreviated form), his date of birth (1498) and the date of the portrait (1568). Francesco Gherardini was a nobleman from Lendinara, a town in the Veneto, some 70 km from Venice.
The collection of sixteen paintings donated to the Commune of Venice by Ferruccio Mestrovich has been housed since 2001 in the Browning Mezzanine of the Ca' Rezzonico.
Venice. Museo Diocesano (Sant’Apollonia).
Christ blessing with Saints Mark and Gall. Canvas, 172 x 105.
An altarpiece from the little church of San Gallo, near St Mark's Square, which was originally the chapel of a hostel for pilgrims (Ospizio Orseolo). Extremely damaged and repainted in the eighteenth century by Gaspare Diziani. The attribution is traditional, but the picture’s condition probably makes any serious judgement of it impossible. A four-year restoration was completed at the beginning of 2016.
Venice. Scuola di San Fantin (Ateneo Veneto). Library.
The Virgin appearing to St Jerome. Canvas, 276 x 194.
St Jerome, kneeling under a ramshackle wooden shelter, turns from contemplating his crucifix to gaze up at the Virgin, hovering above, supported by angels. The lion also turns its eyes upwards. This undocumented altarpiece may date from the late 1570s or early 1580s – and was certainly completed by 1588, when it was engraved by Agostino Carracci. It was commissioned for the altar of the Sala dell'Albergo Grande in the Scuola Grande di San Fantin. The Scuola, whose mission was to provide religious consolation to condemned prisoners, was closed in 1807 by Napoleonic decree, and the building (situated near La Fenice opera house in Campo Fantin) is now the seat of the Ateneo Veneto (an institute for the promotion of science and the arts). The picture was transferred to the Accademia in 1913 but returned to the former Scuola in 1973. Restored in 2018. The atmospheric landscape background may have been painted by one of Tintoretto's Flemish assistants. The Ateneo Veneto is not a museum, but admission is sometimes granted to visitors.
Venice. Palazzo Patriarcale.
'Santa Caterina Cycle'. Six canvases, each 116 x 227/8.
The six subjects are: St Catherine refusing to Worship Idols; St Catherine disputing with the Doctors; St Catherine scourged with Chains; St Catherine tended by Angels in Prison; St Catherine tortured on the Wheel; and the Beheading of St Catherine. The paintings came from the Augustinian church of Santa Caterina in Cannaregio, where they were hung around walls of the choir, either side of Veronese's famous altarpiece of the Marriage of St Catherine (now in the Accademia). They are undocumented but were described as works of Tintoretto by seventeenth-century writers (Stringa (1604), Ridolfi (1648) and Boschini (1674)). Modern opinion unanimously regards them as studio works: Tintoretto could conceivably have provided some compositional sketches, but the execution appears to have been left to his son Domenico and other assistants. They probably date from the 1580s. The church of Santa Caterina was closed in 1807, but the six paintings remained in situ until 1904. They are now kept in the nineteenth-century Patriarchial Palace, next to St Mark's Basilica. The building is not open to the public. The paintings were the focus of an exhibition (Il Ciclo di Santa Caterina) held at the Museo Diocesano in 2005-6.
Venice. Basilica of San Marco.
Designs for Mosaics.
Many of the medieval mosaics on the arches and domes of the interior were remade in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Tintoretto, Titian, Veronese and many lesser artists provided designs. Tintoretto was paid for cartoons in 1568-71 and again in 1588. He designed some of the scenes of the Life and Miracles of Christ in the left transept and on the arch over the iconostasis, and was also responsible for several figures of saints and prophets.
Venice. Gesuiti (Santa Maria Assunta). Left transept.
*Assumption of the Virgin. Canvas, 440 x 260.
The apostles (two left holding the burial shroud) watch in awe as the Virgin is borne to Heaven by a host of angels. The end of the antique sarcophagus, which bears a legible relief of Noah making an offering after the flood, resembles an altar, and an array of liturgical objects (candle, censer, holy water sprinkler, ciborium and book) are displayed in front of it. The picture was painted for the high altar of Santa Maria dei Crociferi (demolished in the early eighteenth century to make way for the present Baroque church). It probably dates from the mid or late 1550s and is unusually highly finished and opulent in colour. Ridolfi tells the story that Tintoretto, learning that the church was intending to give the commission to Veronese, offered to paint the picture ‘in the exact style of Paolo so that everyone would believe it was from his hand’. In fact, Tintoretto seems to have painted two versions of the altarpiece. The first (perhaps rejected or removed because of its unorthodox composition or iconography) is now in a church at Bamberg, Germany. After the church was rebuilt in 1715-28, the Assumption was placed in the shallow left transept of the new Baroque church in the ornate marble altar of the Zen family.
Tintoretto also painted for the Crociferi, at roughly the same period as the Assumption, the Presentation of Christ in the Temple (which hung on a side wall of the chancel and is now in the Accademia) and the Marriage at Cana (which hung in the monks' refectory and is now at the Salute). All three paintings were praised by early writers (Ridolfi, Boschini and Zanetti) and have been accepted by modern critics as autograph works with little, if any, workshop intervention.
Venice. Madonna dell’Orto.
Madonna dell'Orto was the parish church of Jacopo Tintoretto, who lived on the nearby Fondamenta dei Mori. The remains of the painter and his family were interred there in the nineteenth century (memorial in the chapel to the right of the chancel). There are ten canvases by Tintoretto in the church.
*Choir. Making of the Golden Calf; Last Judgement. Canvas, each 1450 x 580.
Measuring almost 15 metres high, these are two of the tallest canvases ever painted. Described by Ridolfi as early works, but usually dated about 1560 by modern critics. According to Ridolfi, Tintoretto secured the commission by offering to charge only for expenses and he was paid only one hundred ducats for the two giant canvases.
The canvas to the left of the altar combines two episodes from the Book of Exodus. The lower part, often called the Worship of the Golden Calf, actually represents the Making of the Golden Calf. Aaron (seated on the far right) tells the Israelites to strip off their gold jewellery, which is being piled up in front of him and will be used to cast the idol. Meanwhile, workmen bring a model of the calf already prepared in clay or wax. The upper part of the canvas depicts Moses Receiving the Tablets of the Law. God the Father, accompanied by a host of wingless angels, descends headlong through the heavens with the tablets of stone. Moses, waiting naked on the mountaintop, throws his arms wide in prayer or submission.
The composition of the Last Judgement, to the right of the altar, clearly depends in some degree on Michelangelo’s fresco in the Sistine Chapel (which Tintoretto would have known from prints), but it may also have been influenced by Titian's Trinity (painted for Charles V in 1554). At the apex of the picture, Christ is seated in judgement with the sword of vengeance and lily of mercy. He is flanked by the Virgin and John the Baptist, who proffer advice as interceders. Angels sound the Last Trump, and saints and martyrs ascend to Heaven on banks of cloud. In the centre of the composition, naked figures are swept away in a raging flood, and the dead are carried by demons onto Charon's ferry. The Archangel Michael is seen on the left, weighing souls. At the bottom of the picture, decaying corpses are resurrected from their graves.
Vasari, who saw the Last Judgement shortly after it had been painted, was impressed by its ‘terrible yet capricious invention’, but lamented the lack of care which marred what would have been a ‘stupendous creation’. Closely scrutinised, it seemed to him painted ‘da burla’ (as a joke). Early Venetian writers (including Ridolfi and Boschini) ranked the two choir paintings among Tintoretto's most important works.
Below the two towering canvases are five arched pictures of female figures representing Virtues: from left to right, Temperance, Justice, Faith, Prudence and Fortitude. The middle canvas, Faith, was not part of Tintoretto's original programme and is attributed to the seventeenth-century painter Pietro Ricchi.
**Right nave. Presentation in the Temple. Canvas, 429 x 480.
Praised by Vasari as the ‘best executed and happiest’ picture in the church. It was painted to decorate the outer doors of the church organ, and was originally two canvases that became a single picture when closed. The organ was situated above the sacristies at the end of the right nave – approximately where the Presentation hangs today. The low viewpoint emphasizes the steepness of the curving stairway. Gold leaf has been used for the mosaic pattern on the steps. The mother or wet nurse sitting on the steps with the little girl in the bottom right corner and the woman standing on the right with the child on her hip may both represent Charity. According to a recently discovered account of Tintoretto’s family history (reputedly by his son-in-law Sebastiano Casser), Tintoretto portrayed his daughter Marietta as the child Mary and Marietta’s mother, a German woman with whom he was passionately in love, as St Anne.
*Apse. Vision of the Cross to St Peter; Execution of St Paul. Canvas, each 420 x 240.
St Peter, looking up from a book of scripture, has an apparition of angels carrying a wooden cross. The gold and silver keys of Heaven dangle across his knee. The other canvas was called the Beheading of St Christopher by Ridolfi, and this title is repeated for Andrea Zucchi's print (1720). St Paul is, however, the more likely subject. The saint, kneeling in prayer beside an ancient Roman breastplate and helmet, is about to be beheaded with a huge two-handed broadsword. An angel descends from Heaven with a laurel wreath and martyr's palm. These two brilliantly coloured pictures were painted for the inner doors of the church organ (destroyed in 1865). They now hang in the apse, either side of the high altar.
Tintoretto agreed to provide paintings for the organ in 1548 for the fee of five scudi, two bushels of flour and a cask of wine. However he evidently dragged his feet, since a new contract for the pictures was signed on 6 November 1551, allowing additional payment of thirty ducats. Delivery was fixed for early summer 1552, but payments continued until May 1556.
*Contarini Chapel (fourth in the north aisle). Martyrdom of St Agnes. Canvas, 400 x 200.
The picture follows the account of the saint's martyrdom in the Golden Legend. The thirteen-year-old girl wears the white dress and long hair that miraculously covered her after she had been publicly stripped naked and taken to a brothel. A lamb, her familiar attribute, is beside her. She prays for the life of her rejected suitor Lucinius, who had been strangled by the Devil. He lies grey-faced in the foreground, while his father, the Prefect, stands on the right in red robes with his hands outstretched in amazement. The hostile crowd behind accuses Agnes of witchcraft and angels descend from Heaven with her martyr's crown. The picture remains in situ as the altarpiece of the chapel, which is dedicated to St Agnes and contains marble busts of members of the Contarini family. Art historians have disagreed over the likely date of the altarpiece, which was once considered an early work, but has been more recently dated to the mid-1560s or even late 1570s. Pallucchini and Rossi (1982) link the commission to the death of Tommaso Contarini in 1578.
Venice. San Cassiano. Chancel.
*Resurrection. Canvas, 450 x 225.
Commissioned by the Scuola del Santissimo Sacramento in January 1562 and finished in 1565. St Cassian (left) and St Cecila (right) are crowned with flowers by plump putti. The bottom centre of the picture, showing an angel playing the organ and a putto working the bellows, is at present hidden behind the pinnacle of the Baroque altar.
*Crucifixion. Canvas, 341 x 371.
The composition is highly original, even for Tintoretto. As Ruskin commented: 'The horizon is so low, that the spectator must fancy himself lying full length on the grass, or rather among the brambles and luxuriant weeds.' The three crosses are viewed from an acute angle on the extreme right. On the left, St John the Evangelist stands by the Virgin Mary, who has collapsed to the ground. The turbaned man (Nicodemus?) at the bottom of the ladder holds up a sign with the letters I.N.R.I. (the Latin initials for 'Jesus of Nazareth, KIng of the Jews'). In the background, Roman spears form a menacing forest against the stormy sky. The figure of Christ appears to have been taken from an engraving made in 1548 by the Haarlem printmaker Dirck Coernhert after a drawing by Maerten van Heemskerck.
*Descent into Limbo. Canvas, 342 x 373.
The risen Christ, radiating divine light, bursts through the Gates of Hell. Adam and Eve emerge from Limbo, with the heads of Old Testament patriarchs visible in the gloom behind them. (Eve was completely naked originally, but small clouds were later painted over her loins.) One angel (Satan?), holding a chain, flies down into the depths of Hell, while another angel (MIchael?) flies up towards Heaven. A squared sketch for the figure of Eve is preserved in the Uffizi.
The two pictures were painted for the Scuola del Santissimo Sacramento in 1568, when Cristoforo de' Gozi (a rope merchant) was Guardian (he must be one of the donors on the right of the Descent into LImbo).
Restored in 1996.
Venice. San Felice. Third South Altar.
Saint Demetrius. Canvas, 188 x 88.
St Demetrius of Thessalonica is a military saint, revered by the Orthodox Church but rarely represented in Western art. The donor, shown bottom left, half-length with his arms crossed on his chest, is Zuan Pietro Ghisi. He is identified by his initials (Z. P. G.) and his insignia (a red and white shield) on the face of the podium. He died in 1539, but the altarpiece is generally dated around 1545. He is depicted as a relatively young man, and it has been conjectured that his son modelled for the portrait. The picture was described as a work of Tintoretto by Francesco Sansovino (1581). This attribution – made by a generally reliable source during Tintoretto's own lifetime – passed unquestioned until 1995, when a study was published (by Robert Echols in Artibus et Historiae) giving the Saint Demetrius, and many other works usually ascribed to the young Tintoretto, to the little known Giovanni Galizzi. Galizzi was a Bergamasque painter, who worked in Venice from the early 1540s until his death in 1565 and may have passed through Tintoretto’s studio. The reattribution remains controversial. The picture is in a somewhat fragile condition and was restored three times between 1941 and 1993.
Venice. San Giorgio Maggiore. Choir.
*Gathering of the Manna. Canvas, 377 x 576.
The Israelites are at work, gathering the manna from heaven, grinding it in a mill, forging, making shoes, washing, sewing and spinning; Moses sits with Aaron in the right foreground. The daily gift of manna to the Israelites in the wilderness provided an Old Testament parallel to the institution of the Eucharist, and the picture is a companion to the Last Supper, which hangs on the opposite side of the chancel. The two huge pictures were Tintoretto’s last important commissions, probably painted from 1592 until the year of his death in1594. Though superb works, assistants must have had a large hand in their execution.
*Last Supper. Canvas, 365 x 568.
The great table divides the picture diagonally. On the far side of it, Christ gives bread to one of the apostles in the manner of a priest administering communion, and other apostles argue among themselves about the meaning of Christ’s words. On the near side, servants go busily about their business. A girl washes plates. A cat drinks from her bowl. A dog steals a bone. The air is filled with ethereal angels, illuminated by a lamp and the radiance surrounding Christ. The picture is Tintoretto’s last version of this subject, which he painted at least nine times.
*The Deposition. Canvas, 288 x 166.
A desolate night scene. The limp body of Christ is lowered into the tomb. The Virgin Mary, overcome by grief, collapses into the arms of two Holy Women. On the horizon, the hill of Calvary is seen against the dying light. This picture, like the Gathering of Manna and Last Supper, dates from the very end of Tintoretto’s life. It still hangs in the Cappella dei Morti (the mortuary chapel of the Benedictine monks) for which it was painted. Work began on the chapel in 1592. In 1594, the year Tintoretto died, he was paid seventy ducats for the altarpiece. While his son Domenico is often thought to have been responsible for much of the execution, the composition must be Jacopo's and has great emotional force. John Pope-Hennessy (The Renaissance Portrait (1966)) seems to have been the first to suggest that Joseph of Arimathea, the old man supporting Christ’s head, is a self-portrait. Recent restorations, carried out both before and after the picture was exhibited at Washington in 2019, treated the picture for mould and removed discoloured varnish and thick repaint.
Four other altarpieces in the church (Stoning of St Stephen, Martyrdom of SS. Cosmas and Damian, Resurrection with St Andrew and Donors of the Morosini Family and Coronation of the Virgin) are described by Ridolfi as works of Tintoretto, but are now given to his workshop.
Venice. San Giuseppe di Castello. First altar on the right.
St Michael overcoming Lucifer. Canvas, 380 x 180.
Lucifer is represented as an Ottoman warrior, with Turkish beard and armour and crescent-moon horns. The senator kneeling as donor on the right is Michele Bon (who recurs identically in the Resurrected Christ and Three Avogadori in the Doge’s Palace). The picture hung over the altar in front of his tomb. A relatively late, largely workshop production (around 1582).
Venice. San Lazzaro dei Mendicanti.
St Ursula and Companions. Canvas, 330 x 178.
According to the Golden Legend, St Ursula was a British princess who embarked on a pilgrimage to Rome with 11,000 virgin attendants and was martyred by Huns at Cologne on her way home. The picture shows her disembarking at Cologne with the Pope, a bishop, and her long train of attendant maidens. An angel with a martyr's palm appears overhead. Painted for the church of San Salvatore (annexed to the hospital of the Incurabili on the Zattere) and transferred to San Lazzaro dei Mendicanti in 1817. Generally regarded at one time as an early work; but considered comparatively late by some more recent critics and ascribed at least in part to a workshop collaborator. San Lazzaro, now the church of the civic hospital of Venice, is difficult to visit. (The main entrance on the Fondamenta dei Mendicanti is usually closed and the normal way in is now through the hospital complex.)
Venice. Santa Maria dei Carmini. Fourth altar on the right.
Presentation of Christ in the Temple. Canvas, 350 x 195.
Mary and Joseph present the infant Jesus to the aged High Priest Simeon, who recognises the child as the Messiah (Luke: 2, 22-35). The pair of doves held by the young attendant were part of the ritual purification required by Mosaic law. The candles allude to the tradition of celebrating the Feast of the Presentation (Candlesmas) with candlelit processions. The picture was painted for the Scuola dei Pesci-Vendoli (the Confraternity of Fishmongers), whose altar was dedicated to the Purification. (The marble frame has a relief of a fish, bottom right.) The dozen figures, including the two candle bearers, in the dark background may represent the members of the confraternity.
The altarpiece is recorded by Vasari (1568) as a work of Andrea Schiavone but by Ridolfi (1648) as a work of Tintoretto (though with the comment that ‘many believe it to be by Schiavone’). Doubts about the picture's authorship have persisted, and an attribution to Polidoro da Lanciano (published by Detlev von Hadeln in the 1922 Burlington Magazine and adopted by Giulio Lorenzetti's popular guidebook Venice and Its Lagoon) had some currency in the twentieth century. However, the question of attribution now appears to have been more or less settled in favour of the young Tintoretto. A recent contribution (Joseph Hammond's article in the January 2013 issue of Artibus et Historiae) draws attention to unusual iconographical features (the candles and the inclusion of a second mother waiting to present her child) that are repeated in Tintoretto's later Presentation at the Accademia and Circumcision at the Scuola Grande di San Rocco. The picture has usually been dated to the early or mid-1540s – discounting the date of 1548 inscribed on the frame. It was restored in 2001.
Venice. Santa Maria Mater Domini.
*Finding of the True Cross. Canvas, 228 x 508.
St Helen, mother of the Emperor Constantine, is said to have discovered the True Cross on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and to have proved its authenticity by placing it on the body of a dead youth, who was thereupon restored to life. To the right, a man brings the Empress the nails from the Cross on a plate. This huge canvas was painted for the Scuola del Santissimo Sacramento (three members of which are portrayed as onlookers on the right). It cannot be an early work, as some critics have claimed, because the Scuola was not founded until 1551 and was only granted rights to hang paintings over its benches and hold Masses in the church in 1561-62. Ridolfi singles the picture out for special praise, noting the Queen ‘painted in a majestic attitude with her retinue of ladies so dressed as to seem drawn from antiquity’. The picture (which was restored in the eighteenth century by the painters Antonio Marinetti and Giovanni Battista Mingardi and again in the nineteenth century by Sebastiano Santi) has lost much of its colour. The sky now appears rust-brown. The church, previously usually shut, is now open several mornings a week.
Venice. Santa Maria del Rosario (Gesuati). Third altar on the left.
*Crucifixion. Canvas, 297 x 165.
The group grieving at the foot of the cross comprises the fainting Virgin and the Holy Women tending her, Mary Magdalene (gazing ecstatically at Christ), John the Evangelist (leaning forward at the right edge with hands across his breast), Joseph of Arimathea (the turbaned man in the left background), Nicodemus (the pharisee in the right background) and possibly St Peter (the balding man behind the cross). The picture is usually dated around 1560-65. It was painted for the old church of the Poveri Gesuati, where it is recorded by Francesco Sansovino (1581). It was transferred to the new church, rebuilt by the Dominicans, which was consecrated in 1743.
Venice. Santa Maria della Salute. Sacristy.
*Marriage at Cana. Canvas, 435 x 545.
Tintoretto painted many Feast pictures, but only one of this subject: the miracle of the turning of water into wine at the marriage feast at Cana (John: 2, 1-11). The wedding guests are seated, men on the left and women on the right, along either side of the long table, which, in a typically original composition, is seen from the end rather than the side and converges towards Christ sitting at the head. In the right foreground, servants fill the stone jars with water. The man in the very centre of the picture, standing behind the female guests, has been supposed to be a self-portrait. Signed, and said originally to have borne the date 1561.
This huge canvas was praised by early writers (Ridolfi, Boschini and Zanetti) as one of Tintoretto's finest works. It was painted for the refectory of the monastery of Santa Maria Assunta dei Crociferi at Venice. The order of Roman monks known as the Crociferi (or cross-bearers) was suppressed by the papacy in 1656 and their monastery was demolished to make way for the present church of the Gesuiti. Paolo del Sera, Leopoldo de' Medici's agent in Venice, attempted to buy the painting from the monks, but the sale was blocked by the Venetian Senate and painters' guild, and the picture was transferred to the Salute some time after 1657. In 1852, John Ruskin tried to persuade the National Gallery to buy the picture for £5,000, but his proposal was turned down by the Gallery trustees. A thorough restoration – the first for more than thirty years – was carried out in 2016.
Venice. Santa Maria Zobenigo (Santa Maria del Giglio). Sanctuary.
Two Paintings of the Evangelists. Canvas, each 260 x 150.
These two canvases (one representing Luke and Matthew and the other Mark and John) originally decorated the inside of the doors of the church organ. The pictures (representing the Conversion of St Paul) on the outside of the doors are now lost. In April 1552, Tintoretto signed a contract with the Procurator Giulio Contarini to paint the canvases for twenty ducats. Despite an additional payment later that year, the pictures had still not been delivered by March 1557, when Tintoretto was given a very short time – just sixteen days – to finish them or face a fine of twenty-five ducats (as well as returning all the money already paid to him and forfeiting the unfinished pictures). The finished organ shutters are recorded by Vasari, who criticises their hasty execution. When the church was rebuilt in 1678-81, they were moved to the choir behind the high altar.
Venice. San Marcuola.
*Last Supper. Canvas, 157 x 443.
Judas, seated on the near side of the table, hides his purse with the twenty pieces of silver behind his back. The serving maids on the extreme left (bringing a chalice) and right (carrying an infant and accompanied by a toddler) probably personify Faith and Charity. Painted for the Scuola del Sacramento based at the church, and thought originally to have hung over the bench and table at which members of the Scuola sat. An inscription on the empty stool in the centre gives the date: 27 August 1547. The picture is the earliest of Tintoretto’s many representations of the subject in Venetian churches, and the earliest surviving dated picture that is indisputably his work. There are marked similarities with Giuseppe Salviati’s Last Supper, which was painted, probably a few years earlier, for Santo Spirito in Isola and is now in Santa Maria della Salute. A Washing of the Feet, also painted by Tintoretto for the Scuola; was replaced by a copy in the early sixteenth century and is now in the Prado. The Last Supper was so heavily repainted in the eighteenth century that it was sometimes considered a copy. The repaint was removed in 1937.
Venice. San Marziale.
Saint Martial in Glory. Canvas, 376 x 181.
St Martial (San Marziale in Venetian dialect) was the first bishop of Limoges. He is shown in glory above St Peter and St Paul, who are depicted seated on clouds holding enormous tomes. The picture is Tintoretto's earliest documented altarpiece. He was paid 20 ducats on account on 8 March 1548 and a further 30 ducats on 4 and 12 December 1549. The picture was painted for the high altar of the church, but it is now situated over the second altar on the right. A restoration in 2017-18, the first since 1959, removed discoloured varnish and grime. The picture is now much brighter, but some colours have darkened and altered irreversibly. St Paul's robe, now very brown, was originally green.
Venice. San Moisè. Left of the high altar.
Christ Washing His Disciples’ Feet. Canvas, 290 x 570.
This huge canvas is still in its original (rather cramped) position – the left wall of the Chapel of the Sacrament. The main incident is pushed to the extreme right of the picture, where, on a platform raised on steps, Christ dries the feet of St Peter. The Agony in the Garden, sketchily executed, is seen through an arch, upper left. The picture, described by Ridolfi as a work of Tintoretto, is probably a very late studio collaboration (early 1590s?). The portraits on the extreme left of the kneeling Rector and Guardian of the Scuola del Sacramento were probably painted by Domenico Tintoretto. Eighteenth-century repaint was removed in a 1960s restoration; but the picture is not in good condition and now very dark, and has been rather neglected by critics.
Venice. San Pietro in Castello.
The mosaic is the altarpiece of the Cappella Lando in the north transept (closed by an iron grille). It was executed by Arminio Zuccato from a design attributed to Tintoretto. (The attribution seems to have been suggested first by Henry Thode in his 1901 German monograph.) The date on the mosaic, sometimes given as 1570, should probably be read as 1575. The chapel was restored in the early 2000s.
Venice. San Polo.
West wall (left of entrance).
*Last Supper. Canvas, 228 x 535.
Christ rises to his feet to give the sacrament, pieces of the bread he has broken, to two disciples. Judas is probably the disciple on the far left, turning his back and preparing to leave with his bag. The spectator standing reverently on the right is presumably a member of the Scuola del Santissimo Sacramento, which commissioned the picture. The disciples' sharing food with the beggar lying on the floor and the young child probably alludes to the Scuola's charitable mission. The records of the Scuola suggest that the picture was painted in 1574 or 1575. The dynamic composition has similarities with the earlier Last Supper in San Trovaso. The removal of dirt and darkened varnish in a 2011-12 restoration revealed some general abrasion of the paint surface caused by old attempts at cleaning.
First altar, right.
Assumption of the Virgin with Saints. Canvas, 320 x 170.
St Elizabeth of Hungary (with her crown lying on the ground beside her) and St Veronica (displaying her veil with Christ's image) kneel in the foreground. John the Evangelist (holding his chalice with a snake) and St Peter (keys dangling from his wrist) stand behind them, and Lorenzo Giustiniani (with his distinctive aquiline profile) appears in the right background. The object (a box divided into compartments) in the centre foreground has been interpreted either as a container for medicines (an attribute of St Elizabeth) or a box of paints (beneath Tintoretto's signature). The altarpiece dates from around 1576. It is one of Tintoretto's rare signed works, but appears to have been executed largely or wholly by his assistants.
Venice. San Rocco.
Choir and Right Wall of Nave.
Scenes from the Life of St Roch. Five canvases, each 230/300 x 670.
The earliest of the series is *St Roch among the Plague-Stricken, which was painted in 1549 according to a note of 1565 in the records of the Scuola di San Rocco. The scene is set in the lazzaretto (plague hospital). St Roch, shown in his usual pilgrim's garb, inspects the ulcerated leg of the man on the bed. The dog that healed the saint by licking his ulcers and fed him by bringing him small pieces of bread is shown lying by the bed. Vasari (for once) praised Tintoretto’s draughtsmanship (‘the nude figures very well conceived and a dead body in foreshortening that is very beautiful’).
Three further pictures were commissioned by the Scuola on 13 April 1567. *St Roch in Prison is perhaps the masterpiece of the series. The dying saint, lying on the bed in the centre, is visited by an angel. His ever faithful dog is by the bed. The interior of the prison is represented with shocking realism. A prisoner is chained to the wall on the left, while the prisoner next to him pleads to the guard through a small circular window. A prisoner in an underground dungeon puts his head and his arm with a severed hand through the iron grating in the floor. while a kneeling man lowers food down to him through the grating.
St Roch Healing the Animals also dates from 1567, but seems to have been executed with substantial workshop assistance. After contracting the plague in Piacenza, the saint, 'sore sick and almost lame', retreated to the woods, where sick animals came to him and were cured. A lion (symbol of Venice) is followed by a cow, unicorn, lamb and camel, while the saint's faithful dog is shown with bread in its mouth. Restored in 2018.
St Roch arrested at the Battle of Montpellier is considerably later (probably late 1570s or early 1580s) and appears to have been executed in large part by the workshop. The saint, accused of being a spy, is shown in the right foreground being dragged away by soldiers. The battle rages on the right, with horses rearing and their riders thrown violently to the ground. The picture was moved to the right wall of the nave in 1937, but returned to the choir after restoration in 2018.
St Roch in the Desert was once assumed to have been painted around 1567 but is now usually placed later (early 1580s). The saint is shown reclining in prayer in a makeshift shelter, while his faithful dog emerges from behind the hillock on the right with bread in his mouth. The landscape has been attributed to a Flemish assistant, Paolo Fiammingo, while the groups of figures at the two sides were added in 1729 by the Venetian painter and restorer Santo Piatti. The picture hung on the right wall of the nave. It was moved to the choir in 1937 (switched with St Roch arrested at the Battle of Montpellier) but returned to its previous position in 2018 after restoration.
Right Wall of Nave.
*Christ heals the Paralytic (Pool of Bethesda). Canvas, 258 x 560.
The subject, uncommon in Renaissance painting, is from John 5: 1-11. The pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem was periodically visited by an angel, and whoever first touched the water after this would be cured of illness. When Christ heard a man, who had been sick for thirty-eight years, complain that others always stepped into the water before him, he healed him with the words 'Take up thy bed and walk'. The picture views the scene from the pool, and shows the 'great multitude of sick people, blind, lame and paralyzed' crammed into a loggia of Ionic columns. The low coffered ceiling adds to the claustrophobic effect. The picture was painted in 1559, Tintoretto receiving payments of 15 scudi on 2 April and 60 lire on 15 October. It originally decorated the doors of an enormous silver cupboard, and was divided into two halves. These were joined together in 1674-75, when the picture was restored by the painter Angelo Vidali. The picture was moved to its present position, on the right wall of the nave, in 1729. It was cut down substantially during a restoration in 1937 in the mistaken belief that the bottom part, showing the edge of the pool, was not original. The complete composition is shown in Lefebvre's engraving (published in 1786) and old copies. Tintoretto painted another, entirely different version of this subject some twenty years later for the Scuola Grande di San Rocco.
Inner Façade (formerly).
St Roch before the Pope; Annunciation. Canvas, each 340 x 320.
This pair of paintings, which probably date from the 1570s or early 1580s, originally decorated the shutters of the church organ. They were painted as four back-to-back canvases (originally arched and each measuring 340 x 120). The St Roch before the Pope was seen when the shutters were closed over the organ pipes and the Angel and the Virgin of the Annunciation was seen, either side of the pipes, when the shutters were open. The Annunciation seems the finer work; the St Roch before the Pope is in poorer condition and was probably executed (and possibly also designed) largely by Tintoretto's workshop. The shutters were dismantled when the organ was replaced. In 1738, Santo Piatti was paid to join together the two halves of the paintings, which were enlarged by adding strips of canvas 40 cm. wide to each side. The pictures were subsequently installed either side of the main door. Following restoration in 2013-18, the two canvases were moved to the Scuola Grande di San Rocco. (They are hung high on the wall of the staircase leading to the Sala del Tesoro, where they are hard to see.)
Venice. San Silvestro.
*Baptism. Canvas, 283 x 162.
This magnificent picture was painted for modest patrons – the Scuola dell’Arte dei Peateri (Guild of the Bargemen). Relatively late; but before 1584, when noted by Borghini in Il Riposo. When the church interior was being remodelled in 1836-43, the picture was retouched and widened to fit a nineteenth-century altar. It was restored and returned to its original dimensions in 1937. Cleaning in 2003-4 removed darkened varnish and repaint, and revealed the three damaged and repainted cherubs' heads, above the dove of the Holy Spirit, that had been covered up in an earlier restoration. There are other versions, largely or wholly by Tintoretto’s workshop, in the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Prado, the church of San Giorgio in Braida in Verona and the church of San Pietro Martire on Murano. Tintoretto also painted an Agony in the Garden for San Silvestro; sold to Sir Henry Layard in 1862, it was exported to England but destroyed by fire in 1884.
Venice. San Simeone Grande (San Simeon Profeta).
Last Supper. Canvas, 285 x 415.
On the north wall, near the main door. Judas, wearing yellow, has his hand behind his back, hidding his purse with the twenty pieces of silver. A contemporary priest, dressed in a white cassock, is inserted rather incongruously at the left edge. The composition is in some respects similar to the Last Supper painted in 1559 for San Felice (now in the church of Saint-François-Xavier in Paris). The Simeone Grande picture is probably somewhat later: it could have been commissioned in 1560, when the Scuola del Sacramento was assigned its chapel in the church, or in 1571, when the Scuola’s banco (bench and table) was moved to another part of the church. Two of the figures (Judas and a standing Apostle) recur in the mosaic designed by Tintoretto in 1568 for St Mark’s.
Venice. Santo Stefano. Sacristy.
*Last Supper (349 x 530); Washing of Feet (333 x 231); Agony in the Garden (334 x 293).
These three large canvases were painted in 1576 for the Scuola del Santissimo Sacramento in Santa Margherita, where they were described by Boschini in 1584. The Last Supper hung in the aisle of the church above a bench and table (banco) at which members of the Scuola sat, and was flanked by the Washing of Feet and Agony in the Garden. The pictures were paid for by Negrin de' Zuan (a wool merchant). They were probably designed by Tintoretto but executed in considerable part by assistants (perhaps Aliense and the young Domenico Tintoretto). The church of Santa Margherita, situated in the large Campo Santa Margherita, was closed in 1808 during the Napoleonic suppressions and Tintoretto's three canvases were transferred to the sacristy of Santo Stefano. The Last Supper, with the table raised on steps and Christ seated at the near end, is similar in general composition to the version in the Upper Hall of the Scuola Grande di San Rocco.
Venice. San Trovaso.
*Last Supper. Canvas, 221 x 413.
In the Cappella del Sacramento (north transept). In the Riposo (1584) Borghini noticed in the chapel the Last Supper and a Foot-Washing by Tintoretto. The Foot-Washing is almost certainly the damaged picture in the National Gallery, London, which seems to have left the church sometime in the eighteenth century and has been replaced by a copy. On the evidence of the date carved on the entrance pillar, the chapel was dedicated in 1556; but the Last Supper may have been painted some years later and is often dated around the early or mid-1560s. It hangs on the right wall of the chapel. It is sometimes said that it was originally on the left wall; but there seems no strong documentary evidence for this idea, and the picture was probably composed to be seen from the right (with the table projecting towards the viewer). The strong emphasis on the humble (old patched clothes, plain meal, rough wooden table and wicker chairs) reflects the values of the Scuola that commissioned it. The overturned chair might belong to Judas, who is probably the shadowy figure crouching furtively by the door. The ghostly white figures walking in brilliant daylight in the arcades behind Christ probably represent the Holy Family. It has been conjectured that the smartly dressed young servant at the left edge is a portrait of one of Tintoretto's children.
Temptation of St Anthony. Canvas, 282 x 165.
In the chapel to the left of the high altar. The hermit saint is shown tormented by two seductive she-devils (with chains and fire) and a horned demon (with a scourge), who tear at his clothes and trample on his crutch and book. His ripped monk's habit assumes the form of a cross behind his back. Christ appears in a blaze of light to relieve his suffering. The altarpiece was commissioned by Antonio Milledonne, Secretary of the Senate, and probably executed in 1577, the date inscribed on the altar. The picture was certainly completed by 1582, when it was engraved by Agostino Carracci. The saint is said to be a portrait of the donor.
Adoration of the Magi; Expulsion of Joachim from the Temple. Canvas, 415 x 575.
These large pictures hang on either side of the choir. They are from the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, where the Expulsion was mentioned by Ridolfi as a late unfinished work. Their execution is usually ascribed largely to Domenico Tintoretto.
Venice. San Zaccaria.
*Birth of the Baptist. Canvas, 270 x 204.
Often interpreted as the Birth of the Virgin; but called the Birth of the Baptist by Sansovino (1581) and painted for a church dedicated to Zacharias, the father of the Baptist, who could be represented as the old man at the right edge. The picture was originally placed behind the nuns' choir of the old church of San Zaccaria, and seems to have been moved to its present position around 1595. Once considered a fairly early work (around 1550), but recently dated to the early 1560s. The glowing colours can be better appreciated since a restoration in 2001. There is another version (which repeats the central group but has a horizontal format and a good many differences) at St Petersburg.
Verona. Museo di Castelvecchio.
Adoration of the Shepherds. Canvas, 173 x 255.
Considered a very early work, similar in style to pictures of the same subject at Cambridge and Prague, and perhaps dating from the early 1540s. Acquired in 1957.
Contest between the Muses and Pierides. Wood, 46 x 90.
The subject is from Ovid's Metamorphoses (Book V). Nine muses make music (one plays the organ, two play lutes, two sing, one plays a viol and one a bass viol, one plays a recorder and one blows air into the back of the organ). The Pierides have been turned into chattering magpies and fly off with their musical instruments and scores. This small, sketchily executed panel may have belonged to a keyboard instrument. (It is listed in a 1869 catalogue as the cover of a spinet.) Once thought to be by an artist of the Veronese School, it was attributed to Tintoretto by Berenson (1932). Very early (mid-1540s). Formerly in the Casa Cossali, and later the Nodari and Bernasconi collections.
Virgin and Child ('Madonna Allattante'). Canvas, 98 x 80.
The suckling Madonna is seated on a crescent moon with a huge gold and yellow sun behind her. There is obvious allusion to the Woman of the Apocalyse (Revelation: xii, 1), who was 'clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet ... ' Attributed to Tintoretto as a very early work (1540-45). Restored in 1995-96.
Four Old Testament Scenes. Wood, each 22 x 77.
The four small horizontal panels retain their gilded framing. They represent: Samson slaying the Philistines; Transport of the Ark of the Covenant; Judgement of Solomon; and Belshazzar's Feast. They belong to a group of similar paintings (usually – but not necessarily accurately – called cassone panels) that were attributed to Andrea Schiavone until the 1920s but are now usually regarded as early works of Tintoretto. The four Verona panels are arguably inferior to some others in this group (eg. the seven Old Testament scenes at Vienna), and they may have been executed by an assistant or associate of Tintoretto working in his style. Together with the Madonna Allattante, three portraits attributed to Tintoretto's studio or school, and ten other art works, the four panels were stolen from the museum in November 2015. The stolen paintings were recovered some six months later by Ukrainian border guards, who found them buried in shrubbery on a small island in the River Dniester (near Odessa).
Vicenza. Museo Civico.
*St Augustine healing the Lame. Canvas, 255 x 175.
Probably a work of Tintoretto’s first maturity, about contemporary with such masterpieces as the Miracle of the Slave of 1548 (Accademia) and Saint Roch Healing of 1549 (San Rocco). The unusual subject is taken from the Golden Legend: St Augustine appeared to forty crippled pilgrims at Pavia, healed them and equipped them with crutches and walking sticks. According to Ridolfi, the picture was painted for the Godi altar in San Michele in Vicenza. The church was demolished in 1812 and the picture was bequeathed to the museum in 1826 by Paolina Porto Godi Pigafetta Bissari. The picture was overcleaned in 1975 (when colour was removed from the draperies in the mistaken belief it was old repaint). Restored for the 2007 Tintoretto exhibition held in Madrid.
Vienna. Kunsthistorisches Museum.
*Susanna and the Elders. Canvas, 147 x 194.
The Old Testament heroine Susanna is portrayed very like a Venus – fully nude, surrounded by cosmetics and jewels, and gazing into a mirror. Her pose was probably inspired by the Crouching Venus – an antique sculpture that Tintoretto could have known through prints by Marcantonio Raimondi or Albrecht Altdorfer. This famous picture is almost certainly the one described by Ridolfi in the possession of the painter Niccolò Renier in Venice in 1642: ‘Susanna bathing very naturally, and an old man stretched on the ground hidden among some branches watching her, and from the garden his companions look out furtively’. In 1677 it was in the possession of Giovanni Roetta, the musical director of St Mark’s, but it had arrived in Vienna by 1712, when it was engraved by Jakab Männl. Generally dated to the mid-1550s. Discoloured varnish was removed in a restoration of 2006, but the landscape has darkened irreversibly. The Narcissus in the Colonna Gallery, Rome, is identical in size and was possibly intended as a pendant.
Saint Jerome. Canvas, 147 x 106.
The muscular saint sits cross-legged, supporting the Vulgate on his knee. Possibly the ‘nude St Jerome’ by Tintoretto mentioned by Ridolfi in the Palazzo Priuli near Santa Maria Nuova. Like the Susanna and the Elders, it is recorded in 1677 in the possession of Giovanni Roetta. Though catalogued as a work of Tintoretto in Vienna in 1783, it was re-attributed in 1893 to Palma Giovane (by Wickhoff), and it was only in the later twentieth century that the attribution to Tintoretto regained general favour. Similarity with Tintoretto’s Philosophers in the Libreria Marciana suggests a date around the early 1570s.
Flagellation. Canvas, 118 x 106.
Late work (1585-90). The picture seems to have been influenced by Titian's late Mocking of Christ (now at Munich), which was bought by Tintoretto from Titian's son Pomponio after Titian's death in 1576. Acquired on the art market in 1923. There is another version in Prague.
Saint Nicholas of Bari. Canvas, 114 x 56.
The saint, robed as a bishop and balancing three golden balls on a book, stands on the seashore as a storm rages around him and a ship is tossed by the waves. Sometimes thought to be a fragment cut from the lower right-hand side of a large altarpiece. Recorded as a work of Tintoretto in the 1659 inventory of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm's collection.
Portrait of Lorenzo Soranzo. Canvas, 112 x 95.
Bottom left is the date, 1553, and the age of the sitter, 35. Between these figures is a monogram with a star, which was read by Suida (1946), who identified the sitter as Lorenzo Soranzo, as ‘L.S.’. The identification is confirmed by another portrait of Lorenzo, in the Uffizi, which is inscribed with his name. He also appears in Tintoretto’s huge group portrait of the Soranzo family in the Castello Sforzesco at Milan. Recorded in the Imperial Gallery since 1824. X-rays have shown that Tintoretto re-used an earlier portrait of another man, simply painting over the head and adapting the inscription.
Portrait of Sebastiano Venier. Canvas, 105 x 84.
In the background is a vivid view of the Battle of Lépanto (1571). Venier, who was capitano generale da mar (Admiral of the Venetian Fleet), is portrayed three-quarter-length in the attitude of a commander, wearing gleaming armour and holding his ceremonial baton. He returned to Venice a hero after the victory, and was unanimously elected Doge in 1577 at the age of 81. He died less than a year later, in March 1578, supposedly heartbroken by the damage done to the Doge's Palace by the fire of December 1577. Ridolfi refers to a portrait of Venier in the ‘apparel of a general’ in the possession of the Barbarigo family in Venice. The portrait in Vienna has sometimes been considered a studio replica. It is recorded in the 1659 inventory of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm’s collection.
Another portrait of Sebastiano Venier was formerly in the Palazzo Mocenigo (where it was discovered by Giuseppe Fiocco and published as a work of Tintoretto in the 1932 Burlington Magazine). It shows the admiral full-length receiving a message from a page, while the great sea battle rages in the background. It was auctioned at Sotheby's in 2004.
Portrait of a Thirty-Year-Old Man in Armour. Canvas, 116 x 98.
He wears a magnificent suit of armour trimmed with gold and rests his hand on his helmet. The inscription ‘ANOR XXX’ at the foot of the column gives his age. Through the open window, there is a view of the sea with a galley rowing into the sunset. Probably comparatively early (dated about 1560 by Tietze (1948), about 1550 by Rossi (1974) and 1555-60 by Garton (2008)). Recorded in the 1659 inventory of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm’s collection.
Old Man and a Boy. Canvas, 103 x 83.
The inscription ’65 M3’ to the left of the chair probably refers to the old man’s age, ie. 65 years 3 months. (An old attribution to Tintoretto's daughter Marietta Robusti – published by Erika Tietze-Conrad in a 1934 issue of the Gazette des Beaux-Arts – was based on a misreading of 'M3' as 'MR'. The inscription became clearer when the portrait was cleaned in 1937.) From Archduke Leopold Wilhelm’s collection.
Portrait of a Young Man with Red Beard. Canvas, 106 x 86.
The young man, with short curly hair and red beard, wears a dark fur-lined coat and is seated in a 'Savonarola' armchair. He looks calmly out of the picture and makes a slight gesture towards the viewer with his right hand. A dating of 1558-62 (proposed by Johannes Wilde in his 1938 museum catalogue) appears to have been generally accepted. First recorded in 1720 in Storffer’s painted inventory of the gallery.
Portrait of an Old Man. Canvas, 92 x 60.
This portrait of an old, white-bearded man was probably painted in the late 1560s or 1570s. A small copy – made by David Teniers the Younger around 1656 for the catalogue (Theatrum Pictorium) of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm's collection and now in the Courtauld Institute Galleries in London – shows the portrait to have been slightly cut down on both right and left. The portrait features in the satirical 1985 novel Old Masters: A Comedy by the Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard. In the novel, an 82-year-old music critic sits for four or five hours every other day on the same bench in the museum gazing at the portrait.
Portrait of Marco Grimani. Canvas, 96 x 60.
Marco Grimani was a Venetian senator. This portrait – showing him three-quarter length dressed in his ermine-lined crimson velvet robes – must have been painted just a few years before his death in 1583. One of several versions; that in Madrid is also of particularly good quality. Recorded at the gallery since 1730.
Seven Old Testament Scenes. Wood, each 29/30 x 154/157; one 29 x 76
The subjects are: Solomon and the Queen of Sheba; Belschazzar’s Feast; the Transport of the Ark; Nathan’s Prophecy to David; David and Bathsheba; Samson pulling down the Temple; and the Adoration of the Golden Calf (cut down) The long narrow panels decorated wooden chests. Formerly ascribed to Schiavone, they were attributed to Tintoretto, as very early works, by Baron Detlev von Hadeln in 1922. Probably dating from the middle or late 1540s, they are close in style to a group of three furniture panels in London (two in the Courtauld Institute and one in the National Gallery). The whole series may have been designed by Tintoretto, but the execution appears to have been left partly to his workshop assistants or associates. Solomon and the Queen of Sheba is perhaps the finest of the series. The panels were described in the 1635 inventory of the Duke of Buckingham's collection as 'seven Italian Trunks, histories of Old and New Testaments'. The Buckingham pictures were sold in 1649-50 to Archduke Leopold Wilhelm, and the seven Old Testament scenes were sent to Prague Castle. It was probably at this time that they were detached from their chests and displayed as easel pictures. Transferred from Prague to Vienna in 1880.
Portrait of a Woman. Canvas, 98 x 75.
The portly, fairly-haired young woman in a burgundy velvet dress, a string of peals falling almost to her waist, is portrayed full frontally, her left arm resting on a table covered by a patterned carpet. Engraved as a work of Titian in the Theatrum Pictorium – David Teniers’s 1660 catalogue of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm’s collection. One of several Titianesque portraits attributed to the young Tintoretto in 1930 by Johannes Wilde; the fragmentary head of a woman in Budapest is another. A slightly later suggestion was that it might be a self-portrait by Marietta Tintoretto. The attribution to Jacopo Tintoretto was supported by Paula Rossi in her 1974 catalogue of his portraits. It has not been universally accepted, but the portrait was included in the major Tintoretto exhibitions held recently at Madrid (2007), Paris (2009), Rome (2012) and Venice (2018).
Warsaw. Muzeum Narodowe.
Portrait of a Venetian Admiral. Canvas, 82 x 62.
He wears black armour trimmed with gold. A sea battle is viewed through the window at the left edge. Acquired by the museum in 1935 with the collection of Jan Poplawski. It was once ascribed to Jacopo Bassano and has also been given to Domenico Tintoretto. X-rays have revealed that it was painted over an earlier unfinished portrait.
Washington. National Gallery of Art.
*Votive Picture of the Mocenigo Family. Canvas, 216 x 417.
The Doge Alvise Mocenigo and the Dogaressa Loredana kneel on either side of the enthroned Virgin and Child. Alvise’s brother Giovanni stands on the left and two nephews (in black) stand on the right; the two boys shown as musical angels are believed to be grandsons of Giovanni. Four of the portrait heads were painted on separate pieces of canvas that have been sewn on. It has been suggested that these portraits were painted from life on small canvases, which were then attached to the large canvas. Alternatively, the inserted pieces could have been cut from an earlier group portrait that had been irreparably damaged or abandoned when unfinished. The execution of much of the painting may have been left to assistants. It must have been painted between 1570, when Alvise was elected Doge, and 1574, when Loredana died. It was described by Ridolfi in the house of Toma Mocenigo. Formerly in the collection of Marquis Hippolythe de Gouvelle of Brittany, it was acquired by Samuel Kress in 1953 and bequeathed to the National Gallery in 1961.
Conversion of St Paul. Canvas, 152 x 236.
Probably a very early work (about 1545?). The general composition seems to have been influenced by Titian's Battle of Spoleto (painted for the Doge's Palace in 1538 and destroyed by fire in 1577). Tintoretto may also have borrowed from a Conversion of St Paul painted by Pordenone around the mid-1530s (now lost but known through a drawing in the Morgan Library, New York), while the fallen figure of St Paul (centre foreground) seems to be derived from Raphael’s tapestry design of the Conversion of St Paul for the Sistine Chapel. In the surrounding chaos, horses rear in terror, bolt in panic, and even somersault down a stairway. Possibly one of two pictures by Tintoretto of this subject mentioned by Ridolfi, one in the house of Senator Gussoni and the other in the Cornaro collection. Very probably the picture of this subject recorded (with almost identical dimensions and an attribution to Andrea Schiavone) in 1809 at the Palazzo Pisani in Campo Stefano. First certainly recorded in 1857 in the collection of Lord Kinnaird of Perthshire, Scotland. By the Second World War, it had passed into the hands of the famous Italian dealer Alessandro Contini Bonacossi, who sold it with fifteen other paintings to Samuel H. Kress in 1954. At Washington since 1961.
Portrait of a Procurator of St Mark’s. Canvas, 139 x 101.
The elderly sitter's splendid crimson robe has open 'ducal' sleeves, revealing the ermine lining. Over his right shoulder is the stola d’oro, showing that he belonged to the knighthood of that name. This powerful portrait – one of Tintoretto's largest – is probably a fairly late work (1575-85). It is first recorded in 1886, when it was loaned to the Royal Academy's winter exhibition by the Earl of Wemyss of Gosford House in Scotland. By 1929 it was with the dealers Wildenstein & Co. of New York. Acquired by Kress in 1949. Identifications of the sitter as Francesco Duodo (on the basis of a portrait bust by Alessandro Vittoria) and as Giovanni Donà (on the strength of an inscription on a copy) appear to have been abandoned. Restored in 2017-18.
Portrait of a Gentleman. Canvas, 111 x 88.
The still youngish man, full bearded and wearing a dark fur-trimmed robe, turns towards the viewer as he poses against a green curtain with his arm resting on the parapet beneath an open window, The detailed landscape viewed through the window has been recently attributed (by Robert Echols) to the young Flemish painter, Marten de Vos, who worked as Tintoretto's assistant for a time in the 1550s. Acquired in Bologna in 1839 by the London 'speculator' William Buchanan; subsequently (1887 to 1927) in the Holford collection at Dorcester House, London; and bequeathed to the Washington gallery in 1943 by the American banker Chester Dale.
Portrait of a Man as St George. Canvas, 84 x 71.
The man, leaning over a table, holds a banner with the cross of St George. A knight's helmet lies in front of him on the table. A dragon, sketched with a few quick brushstrokes, appears in the dark background behind him. Nothing is known of the history of this unusual portrait before 1932, when it was acquired by Kress from Contini Bonacossi. Until 1979 it was catalogued as a work of Dosso Dossi. Doubts about the attribution remain. In his 2019 entry to the National Gallery's online catalogue, Robert Echols proposed the name of Giuseppe Caletti, a seventeenth-century painter and engraver active mainly in Ferrara.
Worship of the Golden Calf. Canvas, 159 x 272.
The worship of the idol is shown in the left distance. In the centre, Aaron assembles gold jewellery for its manufacture. The two scenes are framed on left and right by groups of fashionably dressed men and women, who seem to play no part in the action. On the right, a mother, seated with another woman at a small table, offers a piece of fruit to her child. The young man at the left edge, looking out at the viewer, has the aspect of a portrait. The canvas appears to have been cut down substantially at the top, since only the bottom half of Moses on the mount is shown. Little is known of the provenance of the painting, which was acquired by Kress from the dealer Contini Bonacossi in 1935. At first, the picture was generally accepted as an autograph early work. Subsequent criticism has rejected the early dating and ascribed the execution partly or wholly to Tintoretto's workshop. Some critics have seen the hand – particularly in the landscape – of a Flemish assistant or follower (Paolo Fiammingo?).
Susanna. Canvas, 150 x 103.
Probably the picture described by Ridolfi (1648): ‘Senator Lorenzo Delfino has … six scenes from the Old Testament placed over doors: namely … Susanna in the garden, and the two old men, emerging in the distance from a pergola …’ Ascribed to Tintoretto’s studio by Shapley in her 1973 catalogue of the Kress paintings and to Domenico Tintoretto by Robert Echols in his 2019 entry to the National Gallery's online catalogue. Once in the Fisher collection at Egremont House, Sudbury Hill, Middlesex, and later with David Koetser in Zurich. Acquired by Kress in 1936.
Summer. Canvas, 106 x 193.
Summer is represented as Ceres – a Michelangelesque fair-haired beauty reclining in a field of wheat. Grapes hang from a vine overhead, a gorgeous parrot perches on a broken branch, and two great tits alight on a rose bush. From a series of paintings representing the Four Seasons: Spring, personified as Flora, is in the Chrysler Museum, Norfolk; Autumn, personified as Bacchus or Vertumnus, is in a private collection (sold at Sotheby's, New York, in May 2018); and Winter is untraced. The series has been identified with that mentioned by Ridolfi as forming part of the ceiling decoration of the Casa Barbo at San Pantaleon. The decoration was completed by a central octagon representing an Allegory of the Dreams of Men; this is now at Detroit. Bought by Kress in 1957 from the New York dealer Frederick Mont.
Christ at the Sea of Galilee. Canvas, 117 x 169.
The scene is from John, 21: the seven apostles lower the net over the side of the boat, and Peter climbs out to walk towards Christ, standing on the shore in the left foreground. Christ appears in a similar pose and position in a Raising of Lazarus by Tintoretto (formerly in the Kimbell Art Museum and now in a private collection). As a Tintoretto, the Christ at the Sea of Galilee has been dated as early as the mid-1550s (by Pallucchini and Rossi) and as late as 1591-92 (by De Vecchi). The elongation of Christ and the eerie colouring and intense blues recall El Greco, to whom the picture was once attributed. A more recent suggestion (made by Robert Echols in a 1996 article in Venezia Cinquecento) is that it could be a late work of the Flemish-born Lambert Sustris. Acquired by Kress in 1952 from the collection of the New York investment banker Arthur Sachs.
Madonna of the Stars. Canvas, 93 x 73.
The Virgin is seated in Glory, adoring the Child lying across her knees (a pose perhaps prefiguring the Pietá). The stars, forming a halo round her head, refer to the Immaculate Conception. The canvas has been cut down, and it has been conjectured that (like Madonnas by Tintoretto at the Pitti Palace and Berlin) it could have shown the Virgin seated on a crescent moon. The colour (the yellow background and the Virgin's pale red dress) is unusually light for Tintoretto. Some critics have doubted whether the picture is wholly autograph. Acquired before 1921 by Ralph Harman Booth, the Detroit newspaper editor and publisher, from a dealer in The Hague. One of eight pictures given to the National Gallery by his widow, Mary Booth, in 1947. The cherubs' heads and stars in the background had been overpainted and were only discovered when the picture was cleaned after its acquisition.
Weimar. Staatliche Kunstsammlungen.
Portrait of Jacopo Sansovino. Canvas, 49 x 36.
A smaller version – more freely painted and of the face alone – of the portrait in the Uffizi. It was probably a preliminary study or ricordo painted from life.
Worcester (Massachusetts). Art Museum.
Portrait of a Lady (Veronica Franco?). Canvas, 61 x 46.
Veronica Franco (1546-91) was a Venetian courtesan. She was renowned in her own day as a beauty, poet, musician, letter-writer and conversationalist, and has been characterised in recent times as a protofeminist. She is the subject of a 1992 biography (The Honest Courtesan by Margaret Rosenthal) and 1998 film (Dangerous Beauty). Tintoretto is known to have painted her portrait, which she praises in a letter addressed to the artist. ('I wondered for a while whether it was a painting or an apparition set before me by some trickery of the devil, not to make me fall in love with myself, as happened to Narcissus.' The letter was published in Lettere Familiari (1580).) The sitter in the Worcester portrait resembles – in features, hairstyle and costume – the engraved likeness of Franco used as a frontispiece in her Terse Rime (a collection of poems published in 1575-76). Her name is inscribed in block capitals on the lining of the canvas, but the date of the inscription is uncertain. The portrait was acquired in 1948 from a private collection in Venice. It has sometimes been accepted as Tintoretto's, but is more commonly now given to his son Domenico or to a follower. Two portraits in the Prado (Woman revealing her Breasts and Woman covering her Breasts) are similar in size, character and style, and may represent the same woman.