25 February - 10 June 2012
curated by Vittorio Sgarbi*
High commissioner Giovanni Morello
Scientific Coordinator Giovanni C.F. Villa
Exhibition texts by Melania Mazzucco
‘The most fearsome brain painting has ever known’ is how Giorgio Vasari described Jacopo Robusti (or Canal), better known as Tintoretto (1519-1594). This revolutionary artist is one of the main Italian 16th century painters never to have had a major monographic exhibition devoted to his work to date. If we igno re the thematic exhibition of his portraits held in Venice in 1994, the last exhibition of his work was held in 1937, also because it is virtually impossible to move his huge Venetian canvases.
The exhibition at the Scuderie del Quirinale aims to fill that gap by fully illustrating the three main themes that distinguish the great Venetian master’s work: religion, mythology and portraiture. A section specially curated by Vittorio Sgarbi will expand the exhibition to include work by all of those artists who moved in Tintoretto’s circle and with whom he interacted, from Titian to Bonifacio Veronese, to Giovanni Demio, Lambert Sustris, Parmigianino, El Greco, Schiavone and Paolo Veronese.
This astounding exhibition opens and closes with his two selfportraits, one of himself as a nonchalant and cocky young man, from the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, and the other of himself as a grave old man with a magnetic gaze, from the Louvre in Paris, with a lifetime of tumultuous and passionate art unfolding in between.
Also on display are the artist’s extraordinary large canvases, from the spectacular Miracle of the Slave painted in 1548 for the Scuola Grande di San Marco and the Stealing of the Dead Body of St. Mark (both now in the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice) which allowed him to grab the limelight as one of leading lights on the Venetian art scene for nigh on half a century, to the poignant Deposition (1594) from the Monastery of San Giorgio Maggiore, possibly the last work in which it is possible to identify the hand of the master.
Other famous works on display include what is considered to be one of his first acknowledged paintings, Jesus Among the Doctors (1542) lent by the Milan Cathedral’s Diocesan Museum, and such celebrated masterpieces as the Madonna of the Treasurers and the Creation of the Animals, both from the Gallerie dell’Accademia, or the St Mary of Egypt and the St Mary Magdalen from the Scuola Grande di San Rocco. Visitors also have the privilege of being able to witness the unprecedented and spectacular juxtaposition of the Last Supper from the Venetian church of San Trovaso with another version of the same subject, from the church of San Polo, painted five years later and restored specifically for the exhibition at the Scuderie del Quirinale. Alongside the large canvases with their dramatic impact and their tense, rapid brushwork, visitors are also able to explore the artist’s intense historical and mythological works, including, for example, two octagonal panels depicting Apollo and Daphne and Deucalion and Pyrrha, two of the fourteen made in 1541 for the ceiling of Casa Pisani and now in the Galleria Estense in Modena, or the splendid Susanna and the Elders from the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
A commentary in the shape of texts penned by Melania Mazzucco, a writer who has devoted numerous novels to, and written unforgettable pages on, Tintoretto and his circle, accompanies visitors step by step, room by room, from the beginning to the end of the show. And last but by no means least, the catalogue, published by Skira, contains previously unpublished essays by the greatest international scholars and experts on the life and artistic career of Jacopo Tintoretto, that ‘tireless manual labourer’ as his fellow Venetian and art critic Boschin called him, providing us with the definitive description of the man and the painter, ‘but without intending in any way to demean him’, as the great art critic Roberto Longhi pointed out, describing him in his turn as ‘a natural genius, a great inventor of dramatic tales that unfold in a choreography of vibrant light and shade... an endlessly entertaining performance.’
So then, let the show begin…
*Professor Sgarbi curated the Tintoretto exhibition courtesy of Promoter Arte