Tintoretto

from The New Book of Knowledge®

ART HISTORY ON DEMAND > Artists

When the Venetian painter Tintoretto was born in 1518, the Italian Renaissance was coming to a close. During that age, artists had developed many new painting techniques. Skillfully using these techniques, Tintoretto added to them and helped to produce the style of the 1500's known as mannerism.

Tintoretto's real name was Jacopo Robusti. Because his father was a dyer of silks, Jacopo was nicknamed Tintoretto, which means "little dyer." At 14 young Tintoretto studied briefly with the master painter Titian.

Mannerist painters, among whom Tintoretto was a leader, stressed technique. Tintoretto worked very quickly and often painted the same subject time and time again. With each picture the sense of depth was increased with daring use of perspective. Figures were shown in twisted, sometimes violent motion. Important action was illuminated by glaring rays of light, which were like spotlights on a stage. Tintoretto's color effects were veiled, mysterious, and unearthly, with brilliant streaks of heavenly light.

Tintoretto also painted many pictures on ceilings, often using illusionism. This form of painting creates the illusion (leads the viewer to believe) that what is painted is actually real. By 1548, Tintoretto's work was in great demand, so he opened a workshop in Venice and took student assistants. At least two of his own eight children worked in the studio. Tintoretto, who had produced some of the great glories of Venetian painting, died on May 31, 1594.

Reviewed by Howard Hibbard
Columbia University

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