The Prado selected 65 works by Tintoretto - 49 paintings, 13 drawings and 3 sculptures - coming from the collections of leading European and American museums and institutions. It is the first monographic exhibition to be devoted to the artist in Spain, as well as the first exhibition of this scale since the one held in Venice seventy years ago. It offers a rigorous and comprehensive survey of the artist’s whole career, and is itself the fruit of a lengthy and exhaustive research project which is reflected in the accompanying catalogue.
Making up for a museological neglect
Despite being one of the greatest names in the history of painting, Jacopo Tintoretto has been the subject of scant attention on the part of museums and institutions. This can partly be explained by logistical reasons, given that many of his masterpieces are large-format canvases and are still to be found in Venice in the original buildings for which they were painted. In addition, there are also attributional reasons related to his extremely extensive output, which is often confused with that of his followers and imitators. These reasons have resulted in museological neglect, and, since 1937 Tintoretto has only been the subject of exhibitions focusing on specific aspects of his work. The Museo del Prado intends to make up for this neglect, following an arduous process of research which has involved experts from the US, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Austria and Spain.
A rigorous selection
The experts have also worked together on a rigorous selection of works for the exhibition.The basic criterion has been quality. Tintoretto was a prolific artist as well as an irregular one; and tremendous care has been devoted to the present selection. The first sacrifice in this respect was made by the Museo del Prado itself, some of whose works attributed to Tintoretto have been excluded as they lack the required quality. This does not imply that all the works in the exhibition are entirely by his own hand. The notion of authorship in the 16th century was different from the one held today and artists’ workshops relied on assistants and collaborators. In some of the paintings on display, particularly the late ones, the involvement of assistants is obvious. This is the case with The Burial of Christ (church of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice), but it does not imply a decrease in quality or in Tintoretto’s unmistakable artistic style and personality.
All the major artistic genres
The exhibition reveals the wide range of registers in which Tintoretto worked and his interest in all major artistic genres. In particular, it focuses on his painting of religious narratives, the field in which he produced his most famous compositions. The exhibition provides the first chance in 400 years to see together two of his masterpieces of religious art, painted for the church of San Marcuola: The Last Supper (church of San Marcuola, Venice), and Christ washing the Disciples’ Feet : (Museo del Prado, Madrid). It also brings together some of his most important mythological paintings (such as : Venus, Vulcan and Mars, (Munich, Alte Pinakothek), and : The Origins of the Milky Way, (London, National Gallery), as well as examples of his work as a portraitist, including the <Self-portraits from the Philadelphia Museum of Art (Philadelphia) and the Musée du Louvre (Paris), and the : Portrait of Lorenzo Soranzo: from the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Vienna).
The exhibition pays particular attention to the artist’s creative process, placing great emphasis on the concept of “disegno” in the sense of a tool of learning, experimentation and composition, as well as on technical issues, the latter being an integral part of the exhibition. Drawing was exceptionally important to the artist, and the exhibition features a group of works on paper. These fall into three types: drawings of classical sculptures and sculptures by Michelangelo, drawn from small models which will be displayed alongside these studies; preparatory studies for entire compositions, of which the only surviving one, for Venus and Vulcan: (Berlin, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin) will be displayed; and preparatory studies of individual figures, often reused by Tintoretto for various different works.
The artist’s creative process
Exhibition catalogue, in Spanish and English, edited by Miguel Falomir, with contributions by the leading international experts on the artist. A reference point for future studies on Tintoretto. Editorial co-ordination and production: Ediciones El Viso. Editorial co-ordination of the English edition: Paul Holberton. .24 x 28 cm, 472 p., ill. in col. of the 63 works in the exhibition and 206 additional ill. in col. and b. and w. Published by Museo Nacional del Prado 35 euros (paperback) 48 euros (cloth)
ISBN: 978-84-8480-100-9 [paperback] 978-84-8480-101-6 [cloth]
The Museo del Prado will be holding an international conference on Tintoretto on 26 and 27 February whith the presence of leading experts in 16th-century Venetian painting.
Illustration : Self portrait, c 1588, oil on canvas, 62.5 x 52 cm París, Musée du Louvre, Département des Peintures
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