Published: January 23, 2007
Opening January 30, the Museo del Prado will present the most important exhibition on Tintoretto (1518–1594, born Jacopo Robusti) since the one held in the Palazzo Pesaro in Venice in 1937. The exhibition will remain on view through May 13.
“Tintoretto” will include some 70 works by the artist, loaned from the collections of leading European and American museums and institutions. The exhibition is the first monographic one to be devoted to the artist in Spain as well as the first exhibition on Tintoretto of this size and importance since the 1937 exhibition.
The Prado’s intention is to offer a rigorous and comprehensive survey of the artist’s long career and is itself the fruit of a lengthy and exhaustive research project that will be reflected in the accompanying catalog.
Despite being one of the greatest names in the history of painting — he is considered one of the greatest painters of the Venetian school and probably the last great painter of the Italian Renaissance and first became known as Tintoretto (little dyer) because his father was a dyer — Tintoretto has been the subject of scant attention on the part of museums and institutions. The limited number of exhibitions devoted to the artist 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.
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 has aimed to compensate for this neglect, following an arduous process of research that has involved experts from the United States, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Austria and Spain, who have also worked together on the rigorous selection of works for the exhibition.
Featuring a selection of 49 paintings, 13 drawings and three sculptures, the exhibit will reveal the variety of registers in which Tintoretto worked and his interest in all the major artistic genres. In particular, it will focus on his facet as a painter of religious narratives, the field in which he produced his most renowned compositions.
The exhibition will provide 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 will also bring together some of his most important mythological paintings as well as examples of his work as a portraitist, including the self-portraits from the Musée du Louvre in Paris and the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the “Portrait of Lorenzo Soranzo” from the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
The exhibition will pay particular attention to Tintoretto’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 included as 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 that 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 exhibit’s catalog, whose editorial director is Miguel Falomir, will be published in Spanish and English and includes contributions by the leading international experts on the artist.
To coincide with the exhibition, the Museo del Prado will be holding an international conference on Tintoretto on February 26 and 27, which will count on the presence of leading experts in Sixteenth Century Venetian paintings.
The museum is at Ruiz de Alarcon 23. For information, www.museoprado.es or 34 913 30 29 41.
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