“I never was so utterly crushed to the earth before any human intellect as I was today before Tintoret”; so wrote Ruskin to his father after having visited the Scuola Grande di San Rocco. He then continued to say that, with regard to painting, he thought he had never until then known what it meant. Tintoretto delineated a figure with ten strokes and added as many colours. “I don’t believe it took him ten minutes to invent and paint a whole length. Away he goes, heaping host on host, multitudes that no man can number—never pausing, never repeating himself—clouds and whirlwinds and fire and infinity of earth and sea.”
The most Venetian of Renaissance artists, the man who most “marked” Venice with the unmistakable brand of his genius – called on by doges and aristocrats to beautify the buildings and churches of the city – he was in fact able to amaze and astound whole generations of art lovers. He amazed his contemporaries, impressed El Greco, Rubens, and Velasquez, and in many respects anticipated the sensitivity of contemporary artists. Now, five hundred years after his birth, he is returning to fascinate the public on the occasion of the celebrations that the whole of Venice will be organising for him, starting in September.
The young Tintoretto
Through some 60 works, the show The Young Tintoretto, curated by Roberta Battaglia, Paola Marini, and Vittoria Romani, will range over the first decade of the Venetian painter’s activity, from 1538 (the year in which there was first documented an independent activity by Jacopo Robusti, in San Geremia) to 1548, the date of the clamorous success of his first public work, the Miracolo dello schiavo, for the Scuola Grande di San Marco, today the pride of the Gallerie dell’Accademia: an exciting itinerary that reconstructs that extraordinary period of stimuli and experimentation as a result of which Tintoretto profoundly renewed Venetian painting, at a time when it was undergoing great changes.
The show brings together 26 exceptional paintings by Tintoretto and, at the same time, highlights the works from the museum’s permanent collection which will be seen from a new viewpoint, flanked as they are by loans from some of the most important public and private institutions in the world. From the Louvre in Paris to the National Gallery, Washington; the Prado, Madrid; the Uffizi, Florence; the Galleria Borghese, Rome; the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna; the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest; the Fabbrica del Duomo, Milan; the Courtauld Gallery, London; and the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford.
Following a chronological order divided into four sections, the itinerary will investigate the still strongly debated period of Tintoretto’s formation, which cannot easily be referred back to a recognized workshop or individual, by relating him to the Venetian artistic and cultural context of the 1530s and 1540s. In this way there will be clarified how Jacopo Robusti acquired and transformed his models in order to develop a dramatic and revolutionary style through the stimuli of Titian, Pordenone, Bonifacio de’ Pitati, Paris Bordon, Francesco Salviati, Giorgio Vasari, and Jacopo Sansovino, all represented in the show by significant works. There will also be exhibited paintings and sculptures by artists of Tintoretto’s generation and who worked in the same milieu, among them Andrea Schiavone, Giuseppe Porta Salviati, Lambert Sustris, and Bartolomeo Ammannati.