Jacopo Tintoretto was one of the preeminent Venetian painters of the sixteenth century, renowned for his monumental narrative scenes and his insightful portraits of patricians and citizens. In celebration of the five hundredth anniversary of the artist's birth, this exhibition explores an innovative and little-studied aspect of Tintoretto's portraiture: small-scale, informal portrait heads characterized by immediacy, intense observation, and startling modernity. These works capture both the appearance and the spirit of the sitter, and are painted with the artist's famous prestezza, or quickness.
The exhibition brings together for the first time approximately ten portrait studies from European and American museums and private collections, drawing them into a larger discussion of the artist's portraiture and approach to painting. The exhibition also highlights significant facets of artistic practice in the Tintoretto workshop, in particular the dynamic relationship between Jacopo and his son Domenico, through a series of figural drawings and a painting in The Met collection, The Finding of Moses.
"The Met honors [Tintoretto's] 500th birthday by bringing together portrait studies and taking a broader look at this notoriously speedy artist's approach . . ." —New York Times
". . . these small works give rare insight into his process and shrewd perception of the sitter's personality." —Galerie
". . . provokes re-examination of [Tintoretto's] larger narrative works . . ." —Magazine Antiques
The exhibition is made possible by the Robert Lehman Foundation and the Placido Arango Fund.
In this Now at The Met article, exhibition co-curator Alison Manges Nogueira muses on the vibrant modernity and astonishing immediacy of Jacopo Tintoretto's small-scale portraits.
Jacopo Tintoretto (Italian, 1518/19–1594). Portrait of a Man (Self-Portrait?), 1550s. Oil on canvas, 19 3/8 x 14 7/8 in. (49.2 x 37.8 cm). Private collection