Discovering Tintoretto’s correct name is the first of many challenges when attempting to piece together his mysterious life. Another common name for Tintoretto is Jacopo Robusti, however multiple sources have said that this name is derived from a nickname that his father obtained while defending the Padua gates against imperial troops. Only recently has it been discovered that his original family name was Comin and not actually Robusti. As for the name Tintoretto, it is another nickname founded on actions of his father. As clothe Dyer by trade, or “tintore” in Italian, Jacopo picked up the name Tintoretto as a child “little dyer” and it stuck with him through most of his adult life [2]. His family originated from Brescia which was then known as a part of the Republic of Venice. Tintoretto stayed most of his life in Venice very rarely venturing out of the city. It is because of this that most of his works still remain in the churches and museums within the city itself.

Behind Titian, Tintoretto is known as the most prolific and talented Venetian painter to ever live. It is suggested that Tintoretto spent time training under Titian however that period was either short lived or nonexistent. Tintoretto operated a large workshop in Venice for many years resulting in countless assistants who were taught by the great painter. He had his greatest impact however was on the Greek painter El Greco who, it has been said, was a great admirer of the energy and intensity in Tintoretto’s work. Tintoretto is classified as a mannerist painter, which will be covered in greater detail during analysis of his most popular painting “The Last supper”.

Three major works from Tintoretto;

Tintoretto’s most famous painting is one of his many renditions of the famed biblical scene “The Last Supper”. This painting is an oil on canvas and was originally commissioned, along with many other paintings, to fill the walls of the newly built San Giorgio Maggiore church in Venice Italy, where is still resides today[1]. This painting will undergo further analysis later on in this report.

The Last Supper

The Last Supper

Another popular Tintoretto was commissioned after a fire had destroyed much of the Doge’s Palace in 1574[1]. His goal was to replicate Guariento’s 1365 “Coronation of the Virgin” which sat behind the dais where the Doge sat during council meetings. Tintoretto slightly changed the original scene which centered on Mary, and instead positioned Christ as the supreme authority. This painting is currently held in the Louvre Museum, and is commonly considered to be the largest oil on canvas ever done.

Coronation of the Virgin_Tintoretto

The final painting selected is not one of Tintoretto’s more well-known pieces, however because it is a self-portrait it must be included in this selection of works. This self-portrait is again oil on canvas and is also currently held in the Louvre museum in Paris. It was completed in 1588, which places it right before “The Last Supper” was commissioned.

Self Portrait

Self Portrait

Tintoretto’s “Last Supper” is likely his most famous because of his unique depiction of one of the most reproduced scenes in all of Renaissance art. Many things set this example apart from all others; most notably the setting and angle of the table, use of light and color throughout the painting, and the winged angelic figurers which take part in the scene. Tintoretto’s mannerist style of painting shines through in this piece by creating a dramatic and fluid scene by focusing on both light and motion [1]. Traditional adaptations of the last supper normally involve Christ sitting with his apostles with a rigid and solemn tone. This could not be more different, as the heavens are appearing to open and the angels are interacting with the apostles. The angle of the table and position of apostles does create a linear perspective through the back of the painting. Another unusual feature of this painting is that the center of the painting is occupied by multiple secondary characters and not by Christ or any of the apostles. This along with unusual setting of a Venetian Inn further distances this particular depiction of this scene from any other done previously. Earlier in his career Tintoretto had portrayed the Last Supper in a more classical sense with a frontal prospective with Christ in the middle, more closely resembling the famous mural from Leonardo da Vinci about 100 years earlier. However like da Vinci, Tintoretto distances Judas from all other disciples by not placing a halo of light around his head. In da Vinci’s last supper, Judas is in a corner, withdrawn, holding a bag of silver and tipping over a contain of salt, all pointing to his impending betrayal.

[1] Kren, Emil. Marx, Daniel. “TINTORETTO, Jacopo”. Web Gallery of Art. 8/13/2013

[2] “Jacopo Tintoretto (Robusti) Biography”. Jacopo Tintoretto, The Complete Works. Copyright 2002-2013. 8/14/2013