Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: Tintoretto from Philip's Encyclopedia

Italian painter, b. Jacopo Robusti. Tintoretto was the outstanding Venetian painter in the generation that succeeded Titian. Among his notable works are The Finding of the Body of St Mark (1562), The Last Supper (1592-94), and the huge Paradiso (1588-90) in the Doge's Palace, Venice. Some of Tintoretto's finest paintings are in the series of the life of Christ (1565-87).

Summary Article: Tintoretto, Jacopo (1519-1594)
From The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization

Real name: Robusti. Venetian painter. He received his nickname from his father's profession as cloth dyer (tintore). Unlike many of his contemporaries, he painted very few secular subjects. He was practicing as an independent artist by 1539, when he collaborated with others in the creation of cassone panels. In his early paintings he used classical backgrounds. He also used unusual perspectives as in St. George and the Dragon (1560), Christ Washing the Feet of his Disciples (1547), The Last Supper (1592-94), the Gathering of the Manna (1592), and the Entombment of Christ (1592). In the Last Supper the table is placed cornerwise while the apostles stretch away from Christ. In the early 1560s Tintoretto began his choir paintings, including the Last Judgment at the Church of the Madonna dell'Orto. At about the same time he was commissioned to produce three large paintings for the Scuola Grande di S. Marco: The Removal of the Body of St. Mark from the Funeral Pyre, The Finding of the Body of St. Mark, and St. Mark Saving the Saracen from Shipwreck.

Tintoretto's major work was the decoration of the Scuola di San Rocco (1564-1588), a grand religious confraternity of which he was a member. He decorated the whole of the Scuola, including the three ceiling panels in the Albergo, or meeting room. These paintings consisted of four scenes of the Passion, the central Crucifixion being 17 feet by 40 feet. There are 13 ceiling paintings in the upper hall, an altarpiece, 10 wall paintings of the Life of Christ, and a ceiling painting on the staircase. In the lower hall are eight scenes from the Life of the Virgin. Tintoretto's figures are humble, lowly people; his Last Supper takes place in a small rustic inn with simple fare, table settings, and furniture. Even his Discovery of the True Cross conforms to this style, with the Empress Helena wearing plain robes. His plebian emphasis was in keeping with the ideas of the Counter-Reformation.

Tintoretto's works bristle with energy and his colors are generally more somber and mystical than Titian's. He shares with Michelangelo an epic imagination and almost superhuman vigor. William James wrote of him, “We shall scarcely find four walls elsewhere which enclose within a like area an equal quantity of genius.”

SEE ALSO: Titian (1485-1576)

Suggested Readings
  • Rosand, D. (1982). Painting in cinquecento Venice: Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto. Yale University Press New Haven, CT.
  • Valconover, F. (1983). Jacopo Tintoretto and the Scuola Grande di San Rocco. Storti Venice.
  • George Thomas Kurian
    Wiley ©2012

    Related Articles

    Full text Article Tintoretto
    Chambers Biographical Dictionary

    properly Jacopo Robusti 1518-94 Italian painter He was born probably in Venice, the son of a silk dyer or tintore (hence his nickname of "Little Dyer

    Full text Article Tintoretto, Jacopo (1519-1594)
    The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization

    Real name: Robusti. Venetian painter. He received his nickname from his father's profession as cloth dyer (tintore). Unlike many of his contemporari

    Full text Article Tintoretto Il (1518 - 1594)
    A Biographical Dictionary of Artists, Andromeda

    The Italian artist Jacopo Robusti is always known by the nickname of Il Tintoretto, The Little Dyer, from the profession of his...

    See more from Credo