Tintoretto, Jacopo (1519–1594)

views updated

Tintoretto, Jacopo (15191594)

Venetian painter of the Late Renaissance, who rejected the careful precision of contemporary painters for a freer, more energetic style and who was keenly skilled in the rendering of light, perspective, and sheer drama in his works. Born into a family of twenty-one children, he was the son of a dyer, whose occupation (tintore ) gave his son the nickname of Tintoretto. He was sent by his father to the workshop of Titian, who soon sent the boy home out of jealousy or contempt for his independent style of drawing. As a result, Tintoretto was largely self-taught as an artist, taking both Titian and Michelangelo Buonarroti as his models. He developed his own method of preparing paintings by constructing three-dimensional clay or wax models, posing them and using light from various angles to get the most dramatic effects.

Tintoretto's first major commission was a painting for the Scuola di San Marco, an important Venetian confraternity. He decorated the Scuola with paintings based on biblical stories, and his great skill in executing these works built up his reputation in Venice. Three famous worksThe Worship of the Golden Calf, The Presentation of the Virgin, and The Last Judgement were completed for the Church of the Madonna. Eventually these works were painted over, and most of his other church paintings and frescoes have not survived to modern times. For the Scuola di San Rocco, he contributed magnificent ceiling and wall paintings, including The Crucifixion, The Plague of Serpents, and Moses Striking the Rock. He was commissioned to paint all of the halls of the Scuola as well as the Church of San Rocco, a work that produced more than fifty paintings and on which the artist was occupied until his death in 1594.

In the meantime Tintoretto completed large frescoes in the Doge's Palace and the Sala dello Scrutinio, a seat of power in Venice, as well as many portraits of Venetian rulers and noblemen. Several large paintings on historical themes, including the Battle of Lepanto, were destroyed in a fire in 1577. Tintoretto's masterpiece, Paradise, is an immense canvas 74 feet (22.5m) in length by 30 feet (9m) high. Tintoretto's works reflect a new trend in art, the dramatic use of light and shade to tell a story, as well as exaggerated movements, dramatic poses, and distortion of figures. These would become key features of the art of the Baroque period that followed the Renaissance.

See Also: Titian; Venice