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Oil painting - Portrait of a Procurator of St. Mark's, Venice
  • Portrait of a Procurator of St. Mark's, Venice
    Tintoretto, Jacopo, born 1519 - died 1594
  • Enlarge image

Portrait of a Procurator of St. Mark's, Venice

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Venice (painted)

  • Date:

    18th century-early 19th century (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Tintoretto, Jacopo, born 1519 - died 1594 (painted by)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Miss Margaret Coutts Trotter

  • Museum number:

    1444-1882

  • Gallery location:

    On display at Osterley Park House, London

Jacopo Tintoretto (1519-1594) was the most prolific painter working in Venice in the later 16th century. His father was a cloth-dyer, a common and respectable occupation in Renaissance Venice and Jacopo’s adopted nickname ‘tintoretto’ meaning ‘the little dyer’ advertised his artisan background. In addition to his religious and mythological works, Jacopo painted many portraits of prominent Venetians. He worked in a quick, abbreviated style and his intentional the lack of conventional finish was seen by some as careless and caused controversy among his contemporaries. Beginning in the 1550s, Tintoretto and his studio received numerous commissions for portraits of Venetian civic leaders. The unidentified sitter in 1444-1882 wears a crimson velvet robe lined with ermine and richly patterned stole which identify him as a procurator, a Venetian civic official similar to a chancellor or senator. Standing in a three-quarter pose, the man turns his head as if to address the viewer, perhaps regarding the letter or documents he holds in his left hand. His sobre gaze and the voluminous bulk of his costume reinforces his high official status.
Although executed in a less gestural and somewhat 'flatter' painting technique, this type of portrait composition recalls Tintoretto's many portraits of Venetian officials of the late 16th century such as the Portrait of a Procurator in Washington and the Portrait of a Bearded Man in Berlin.

Physical description

A bearded man dressed in a crimson velvet robe lined with ermine, a richly patterned stole is draped over his left shoulder, he appears to hold a letter in his left hand

Place of Origin

Venice (painted)

Date

18th century-early 19th century (painted)

Artist/maker

Tintoretto, Jacopo, born 1519 - died 1594 (painted by)

Materials and Techniques

Oil on canvas

Dimensions

Height: 100 cm estimate, Width: 86.3 cm estimate

Object history note

Given by Miss Margaret Coutts Trotter, 1882
On loan to the National Gallery, London from 1895-1919

Historical significance: Jacopo Tintoretto (1519-1594) was the most prolific painter working in Venice in the later 16th century. His father was a cloth-dyer, a common and respectable occupation in Renaissance Venice and Jacopo’s adopted nickname ‘tintoretto’ meaning ‘the little dyer’ advertised his artisan background. We know little of his artistic training, although early sources report that he was expelled from Titian’s workshop after a short period, as a result either of the jealousy or incomprehension of his master.In addition to his religious and mythological works, Jacopo painted many portraits of prominent Venetians. He worked in a quick, abbreviated style and his intentional the lack of conventional finish was seen by some as careless and caused controversy among his contemporaries.
Beginning in the 1550s, Tintoretto and his studio received numerous commissions for portraits of Venetian civic leaders.
The sitter's crimson velvet robe lined with ermine and richly patterned stole identify him as a procurator, a Venetian civic official similar to a chancellor or senator. Standing in a three-quarter pose, the man turns his head as if to address the viewer, perhaps regarding the letter or documents he holds in his left hand. The unidentified sitter's sobre gaze and the voluminous bulk of his costume reinforces his high official status.
Although executed in a less gestural and somewhat 'flatter' painting technique, this type of portrait composition recalls Tintoretto's many portraits of Venetian officials of the late 16th century such as the Portrait of a Procurator (1952.5.79) in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, ca. 1575-85, and the physiognomy of the Portrait of a Bearded Man 1580 (Staatliche Museen, Berlin, n. 298b).

Historical context note

In his encyclopaedic work, Historia Naturalis, the ancient Roman author Pliny the Elder described the origins of painting in the outlining of a man’s projected shadow in profile. In the ancient period, profile portraits were found primarily in imperial coins. With the rediscovery and the increasing interest in the Antique during the early Renaissance, artists and craftsmen looked back to this ancient tradition and created medals with profile portraits on the obverse and personal device on the reverse in order to commemorate and celebrate the sitter. Over time these profile portraits were also depicted on panel and canvas and progressively evolved towards three-quarter and eventually frontal portraits. These portraits differ in many ways from the notion of portraiture commonly held today as they especially aimed to represent an idealised image of the sitter and reflect therefore a different conception of identity. The sitter’s likeness was more or less recognisable but his particular status and familiar role were represented in his garments and attributes referring to his character. The 16th century especially developed the ideal of metaphorical and visual attributed elaborating highly complex portrait paintings in many formats including at the end of the century full-length portraiture. Along with other devices specific to the Italian Renaissance such as birth trays (deschi da parto), wedding chest decorated panels (cassoni or forzieri), portrait paintings participated to the emphasis on the individual.

Descriptive line

Oil painting, 'Portrait of a Procurator of St. Mark's, Venice', Manner of Jacopo Tintoretto, 18th century-early 19th century

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Kauffmann, C.M. Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, p. 292, cat. no. 364.
National Gallery, London, An abridged catalogue, etc. London : H.M.S.O., 1906, p. 256, no. 1490.

Production Note

Formerly attributed to Titian (1893), this portrait appears to be a later work, perhaps of the 18th or early 19th century.

Materials

Oil paint; Canvas

Techniques

Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Procurators; Figure; Ermine (fur)

Categories

Paintings

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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