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قراءة كتاب Tintoretto

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‏اللغة: English


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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
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Venetian Academy

  III. The origin of "The Milky Way" 24   In the National Gallery   IV. St. George and the Dragon 34   In the National Gallery   V. The Procurator Battista Morosini 40   In the Venetian Academy   VI. Queen Esther Fainting before Ahasuerus 50   In Hampton Court Palace   VII. The Risen Christ blessing three Senators 60   In the Venetian Academy   VIII. Adam and Eve 70   In the Venetian Academy


Sometime in the second decade of the sixteenth century there was born to one Battista Robusti, cloth-dyer of Venice, a boy to whom the name Jacopo was given. We know nothing of the childhood of the lad who, because his father's business was that of a "tintore" or dyer, was known to his companions as Tintoretto. But one, Carlo Ridolfi, who was born about the time when Tintoretto died, towards the close of the sixteenth century, tells us that the "little dyer," whose name is written so large in the history of sixteenth-century art, started very early to practise drawing, and used his father's working material in order to give his productions the colour they seemed to need. That he must have shown signs of uncommon talent at an early age is shown by the fact that he found his way to the studio or workshop of Titian, the greatest painter in the Venice of his time; a man whose position enabled him to require, from all who sought to become his pupils, a measure of proficiency that promised to make their work useful when the demands of patrons were more than one painter could hope to satisfy unaided. Only the lad who possessed undeniable gifts or powerful patrons could find a place in the workshop of the greatest painter of the day, and Tintoretto was quite without patronage. The story-tellers of the period assure us that pupil and master quarrelled, they even hint that Titian was jealous of the young student, and this of course is not impossible because we have plenty of instances on record in which jealousy has been found thriving within the studio. Then, again, clever lads are not always tactful, and an unbridled tongue may make hosts of enemies, and destroy the atmosphere of repose in which alone good work is possible. A brilliant painter might well have been a little intolerant of precocious pupils.

Entering into detail, Ridolfi tells us in his life of the painter that when Tintoretto was at work in Titian's studio he copied some of the master's pictures so cleverly that Titian told one of his other pupils to send the boy away, and Robusti was dismissed from the studio without explanation. It is a significant fact, at the service of those who accept the theory of jealousy, that throughout the years when Tintoretto was struggling for recognition Titian had no eyes for his young pupil's work, and was only led to praise a picture by seeing it unsigned and exhibited in the open. There were times when the elder painter could have placed commissions in the young man's way, but he seems to have preferred to help others, of whom Paolo Cagliari, known as the Veronese, is the only man whose work retains a large place in the public eye. But clearly Titian must have had some other motive as well as jealousy, for he himself had more work than he could possibly do, and the help of a clever pupil like Tintoretto would have been valuable in times of great stress when patrons were waxing impatient. Whatever the other motive may have been it escaped Ridolfi, and no other record of the early days is extant.


This portrait, to be seen to-day in the Accademia at Venice, is one of the most striking of the long series of the leading citizens of the Republic. Tintoretto painted many of these portraits, for he was for many years one of the official painters to the Republic. Venice holds the best of this work.

Looking at the work of the "little dyer" it seems reasonable to suggest that he acted as all great painters before and after him have done—that is to say, he sought what was best in the work around him, and having collected all the material he required, evolved his own artistic personality from a judicious selection. Artists do not come into this world ready made, and the period of the making depends upon the man. For many, life is not long enough, and it is one of the tragedies of art work that the mastery over technical difficulties is sometimes delayed until the eye is becoming dim and the hand uncertain. From the very first we find that Tintoretto was immersed in the affairs of his art, that he could not hold his hand, that he laboured with feverish energy, that no commission was despised, and that nothing was too large or too small for him to undertake. Throughout the days of his youth his industry was devoted entirely to mastering the difficult technique of his work, until foreshortening, perspective, correct anatomy, relative values, light, shadow, and relief, were his subjects rather than his masters. Then he was prepared to begin where so many great Venetian artists had left off.

It had been a reproach to the Venetians that for all their colour they were poor draughtsmen. Needless to add that this rebuke came from the schools of Florence, where men were more concerned with correct drawing than rich colour. But Tintoretto removed the