Jacopo Robusti Tintoretto:
Italian Tintoretto Galleries
The real name of Tintoretto was Jacopo Robusti, but he is better known by his nickname, meaning the "little dyer, " his father having been a silk dyer. The artist was born in Venice and lived there all his life. Even though his painting is distinguished by great daring, he seems to have led a rather retired life, concerned only with his work and the well-being of his family. His daughter Marietta and his sons Domenico and Marco also became painters, and Domenico eventually took over the direction of Tintoretto's large workshop, turning out reliable but un-inspired pictures in the manner of his father. Some of them are, on occasion, mistaken for works of the elder Tintoretto.
Tintoretto appears to have studied with Bonifazio Veronese or Paris Bordone, but his true master, as of all the great Venetian painters in his succession, was Titian. Tintoretto's work by no means merely reflects the manner of Titian. Instead he builds on Titian's art and brings into play an imagination so fiery and quick that he creates an effect of restlessness which is quite opposed to the staid and majestic certainty of Titian's statements. If Tintoretto's pictures at first sight often astonish by their melodrama, they almost inevitably reveal, at closer observation, a focal point celebrating the wonders of silence and peace. The sensation of this ultimate gentleness, after the first riotous impact, is particularly touching and in essence not different from what we find (although brought about by very different means) in the pictures of Titian and Paolo Veronese.
Tintoretto was primarily a figure painter and delighted in showing his figures in daring foreshortening and expansive poses. His master in this aspect of his art was Michelangelo. Tintoretto is supposed to have inscribed on the wall of his studio the motto: "The drawing of Michelangelo and the color of Titian." Unlike Michelangelo, however, Tintoretto worked and drew very quickly, using only lights and shadows in the modeling of his forms, so that his figures look as if they had gained their plasticity by a kind of magic. In the rendering of large compositions he is reported to have used as models small figures which he made of wax and placed or hung in boxes so cleverly illuminated that the conditions of light and shade in the picture he was painting would be the same as those in the room in which it was to be hung.