Friday, October 05, 2018

Venice: Palazzo Ducale – Tintoretto 1519-1594

photograph Jacopo Robusti il “Tintoretto” – courtesy MUVE and
Gemaldegalerie - Kunsthistorisches Museum - Vienna

Palazzo Ducale
Tintoretto 1519-1594

To celebrate the 500th anniversary of the birth, of Venetian painter Jacopo Tintoretto, one of the giants of sixteenth-century European painting, at Palazzo Ducale, in the Doge’s Apartment, the exhibition Tintoretto 1519-1594, until January 6, is curated by the American scholars and great connoisseurs of Tintoretto, Robert Echols and Frederick Ilchman. The exhibition, under the consultative direction of the director of the Musei Civici di Venezia, Gabriella Belli is jointly promoted with the National Gallery of Art in Washington, where it will go on show next year. The exhibition contains fifty autograph paintings and twenty drawings by Tintoretto, lent by great international museums, together with the famous cycles painted for the Doge’s palace between 1564 and 1592 – visible in their original position – the exhibition showcases all the visionary, bold and wholly unconventional painting of Jacopo Robusti, known as Tintoretto. The son of a dyer, Tintoretto knew how to challenge the tradition embodied by Titian, overwhelming it and choosing to innovate: not only with daring technical and stylistic solutions, but also with iconographic experiments that marked a turning point in the history of Venetian painting of the sixteenth century.

Susannah and the Elders – c. 1555
oil on canvas

  photograph Jacopo Robusti il “Tintoretto” – courtesy MUVE and
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Gift of Marion R. Ascoli and the Marion R. and Max Ascoli Fund in honor of Lessing Rosenwald

Two self-portraits with which the exhibition opens and closes are emblematic and revealing; one was painted at the beginning and one at the end of Jacopo’s career. In particular, in the youthful portrait executed around 1546/47, defined by the curators as the first “autonomous” self-portrait in European art, we can already sense the strength of personality, the ambition and the energy of painting that would connote the whole of Tintoretto’s career, but also the absolute novelty of his restless and sometimes mysterious art, with forceful brushstrokes interrupted by highlights of clumps of paint and that sought-after sense of the unfinished. 

Self-Portrait - c. 1546-1548
oil on canvas, 45 × 38 cm

Jacopo Tintoretto created a distinctive and enormously influential style, centering on three factors above all. The first is the painterly quality of his art, with its bold brushwork that emphasizes strong contours as it exploits and energizes the canvas surface. His innovative pictorial techniques enabled him to paint rapidly and — with his deft management of a busy workshop that facilitated ever-larger volumes of production—inspired countless later artists, from El Greco and Rubens to French painters of the romantic period. Second, Tintoretto’s efficient working methods were grounded in the fundamental building blocks of his compositions: muscular human figures in dynamic motion. Facial expressions and physical settings are of less consequence than the energies that flow through the active human body. Third, Jacopo deserves recognition as perhaps the most dedicated practitioner of religious painting in Italy, certainly in Venice, during the second half of the sixteenth century.”

The Curators
Frederick Ilchman and Robert Echols

 preface - catalogue - Tintoretto 1519-1594 Marsiglio

Study from a Model of a Standing Male Nude
black chalk – heightened with white – blue paper – recto and verso
Simone Bianco – Active 1512-1553
Portrait Bust in Antique Style – Julius Caesar
– Marble

Venus, Vulcan and Cupid – 1545-1546
Oil on canvas

“Contemplating Jacopo Tintoretto’s Crucifiixion at the church of San Cassiano in Venice, the writer Henry James exclaimed, “It seemed to me I had advanced to the uttermost limit of painting.” Today, five centuries after his birth, Tintoretto’s works continue to astonish. Even to audiences familiar with abstract expressionism, action painting, informalism, and the gigantic proportions of some contemporary art, Tintoretto’s superhuman scale, dynamism, bold brushwork, and often-hallucinatory combination of fantastic and quotidian worlds still push at the boundaries of what painting can encompass. Although often linked with Titian and Veronese as one of the foremost painters of sixteenth-century Venice, Tintoretto remains an artist unlike any other.” 
Gabriella Belli
- Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia
Paola Marini - Gallerie dell’Accademia - Venice
directors’ foreword - catalogue - Tintoretto 1519-1594 Marsiglio
Gabriella Belli

photograph Jacopo Robusti il “Tintoretto” – courtesy MUVE and Lent by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, John Stewart Kennedy Fund

Doge Alvise Mocenigo Presented to the Redeemer – 1571-1574
oil on canvas, 97 × 198 cm

 Photograph Manfredi Bellati

Tarquin and Lucretia – c. 1578-1580 - detail
oil on canvas
This story of the rape of the virtuous matron Lucretia by the son of the last king of Rome was frequently depicted as an allegory of wifely virtue.  Tintoretto presents a scene of brutality and struggle, as the villainous Tarquin drags Lucretia towards him with her own garment, toppling one of the bedposts and breaking her pearl necklace.  Notice home some of the falling pearls still hang in mid-air – a superb example of a Tintoretto Freeze- Frame.
  Photograph courtesy MUVE

Tintoretto at Palazzo Ducale - Sala degli Inquisitori – ceiling-detail
The Return of the Prodigal Son
Faith – Justice - Harmony – sides
Tintoretto an extraordinary storyteller, skilled director of painted actions, and sophisticated colorist, who used the full range of pigments available in the Venice of his time.  Tintoretto reveals himself as a fascinating interpreter in all the different genres he explored, from religious subjects to great history paintings, and from portraiture to profane and mythological themes, of which the exhibition offers illuminating examples thanks to loans from important museums all over the world and from some prestigious private collections. 
The Abduction of Helen – c.1576-1577
oil on canvas
The Wedding of Ariadne and Bacchus – 1578
oil on canvas
 A Young Man of the Doria Family – c.1560
oil on Canvas

 Jacopo Tintoretto and Workshop
The Nativity
– 1571 with reuse of earlier figures
oil on canvas
Mariacristina Gribaudi
President - Musei Civici di Venezia

Paola Marini – director Gallerie dell'Accademia di Venezia
Mattia Agnetti - Organizing Secretary MUVE
  Photograph courtesy MUVE

Minerva Protecting Peace and Abundance from Mars –
oil on canvas, 148 × 168 cm
Palazzo Ducale - Venice - conservative treatment - financed by Save Venice Inc – 2018
 Melissa Conn – director Venice office Save Venice Inc.
Daniela Ferretti – exhibition designer and director Palazzo Fortuny
 Jacopo and Domenico Tintoretto
Saint Justina with Three Treasures and Their Secretaries
– 1580 oil on canvas
 Self-Portrait – c. 1588
oil on canvas

 Around Venice – Project Tintoretto 500
Besides the two major exhibitions - The Young Tintoretto at the Gallerie dell’Accademia di Venezia and Tintoretto 1519-1594 at Palazzo Ducale don’t miss the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, one of the key points for the master’s activity, it is the custodian of an imposing series of paintings.  Also, the Patriarchal Curia with its many churches that still today conserve precious works by Tintoretto. Fundamental for all this has been the support of Save Venice Inc. which over these past two years has sponsored the technical examination and restoration of many of the artist’s masterpieces in Venice (eighteen paintings and the artist’s tomb), so allowing the public now to admire them in all their splendor, either in the two major shows or on a tour of the city specifically arranged by the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia in collaboration with the Patriarchal Curia.



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