The first exhibition to focus specifically on Tintoretto’s work as a draftsman, Drawing in Tintoretto’s Venice provides new ideas about his evolution as a draftsman, about the dating and function of the so-called “sculpture drawings,” and about Tintoretto’s place in the Venetian tradition.
Jacopo Tintoretto (1518–1594) was among the most distinctive artists of the Italian Renaissance, but his drawings have never received the attention they deserve and remain unfamiliar even to many scholars. Drawing in Tintoretto’s Venice will be the first exhibition since 1956 to explore the drawing practice of this major figure of the Venetian Renaissance and will offer an entirely new perspective on Tintoretto’s evolution as a draftsman, his individuality as an artist, and his influence on a generation of painters in northern Italy.
The exhibition begins with drawings by Tintoretto’s predecessors and contemporaries, including Titian, Veronese, and Jacopo Bassano, to show his sources as well as his individuality. Tintoretto’s distinctive figure drawings are the heart of the show, which includes both preparatory drawings and a group of his studies after sculptures by Michelangelo and others that document the teaching practice in Tintoretto’s workshop. The exhibition also considers artists whose drawing style was influenced by Tintoretto’s, particularly his son Domenico Tintoretto and Palma Giovane. A final section of the exhibition considers an interesting group of drawings—always connected with Tintoretto and his followers—that has recently been proposed as the work of the young El Greco, dating from his time in Venice.
The exhibition brings together more than seventy drawings and a small group of related paintings from nearly two dozen public and private collections in Europe and the United States, including the Morgan Library & Museum, the National Gallery of Art (NGA), the Uffizi, the Louvre, and the British Museum, among others. Organized to mark the five-hundredth anniversary of the artist’s birth, this presentation coincides in New York with the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition of Tintoretto portraits. When it travels to the NGA in March 2019, it will join a major retrospective of his paintings.
Whether or not you go, the exhibition catalog, Drawing in Tintoretto’s Venice, offers a complete overview of Tintoretto as a draftsman. It begins with a look at drawings by Tintoretto’s precedents and contemporaries, a discussion intended to illuminate Tintoretto’s sources as well as his originality, and also to explore the historiographical and critical questions that have framed all previous discussion of Tintoretto’s graphic work. Subsequent chapters explore Tintoretto’s evolution as a draftsman and the role that drawings played in his artistic practice—both preparatory drawings for his paintings and the many studies after sculptures by Michelangelo and others—thus examining the use of drawings within the studio as well as teaching practices in the workshop. Later chapters focus on the changes to Tintoretto’s style as he undertook ever larger commissions and accordingly began to manage a growing number of assistants, with special attention paid to Domenico Tintoretto, Palma Giovane, and other artists whose drawing style was influenced by their time working with the master.
All of the drawings in the exhibition are discussed and illustrated, and a checklist of the exhibition is also included in the volume, but the book is a far more widely ranging account of Tintoretto’s drawings and a comprehensive account of his work as a draftsman.
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