Tintoretto: Fall, Paradise, Death, Enriched Earth


Steeped as (some of the) people of this time were in the Bible, they were equally steeped in the Classics.




The Fall of Phaeton, 1541/42, oil on panel.  Tintoretto, 1519-1594. 

Gallerie Estensi, Venice, to the National Gallery, Washington, D.C. 2019. 

1 of 16 ceiling panels made for a Venetian aristocrat by the artist. 

Their subject were Greek myths.  Here, Phaeton, the son of the sungod Helios, has taken his father’s chariot and is driving it towards Earth.  Jupiter strikes Phaeton down with a thunderbolt to prevent the destruction of the earth. 

It may be a requirement of the composition that the fingers of the mortally wounded Phaeton’s outstretched right arm are bent towards the dying horse.

  But the reach catches your heart.









Paradise, c. 1583, oil on canvas.  Tintorreto, 1519-1594, Venetian.  Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid on loan to the National Gallery, Washington, DC 

A fire in 1577 on the ground floor of the Doge’s palace did damage to several rooms including the Sala del Maggio Consiglio where the Great Council met.  A commission was awarded to Veronese and Frederico Bassano to replace the damaged Medieval fresco. 

Tintoretto was awarded the commission when Veronese died in 1588 and Bassano was found tardy.  He was 70 at this time.

This is Tintoretto’s design which he himself painted.  It is thought to be the largest Old Master painting on canvas. 

The guidelines called for a focus on the conronation of the Virgin as depicted in Dante’s Paradise.





This is a photo from the web of the focal point of the painting as it appears in the council chamber.

It was painted by Tintoretto’s son, Domenico.

The Dove of the Holy Spirit is the axis of the composition.  Below and around are the ranked cherubim and seraphim and human beings. 

In this, Christ is not crowning his mother.  In the prepared drawing, he is. I am unclear why the variation.  There was, however, more than one preparatory drawing made for this assignment and negotiations may have made changes.







The artist was buried in his parish church, the church of the Madonna dell’Orte, next to his daughter, Marietta. His will directed his son, Domenico, to complete his unfinished commissions with customary care.





Detail of Self-Portrait above, c. 1588, oil on canvas, Tintoretto, 1518/19-1594, Venetian.  Loaned by the Louvre, Paris to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.



Some American art professionals have complained that the celebratory exhibition in Washington, DC is inadequate.  And so it should be because large parts of Venice itself would have had to have been brought to Washington to do this painter’s vast oeuvre justice. 

Tintoretto was the last of the three luminaries of the Venetian Renaissance    to die. (Titian, Veronese).


To leave enriched earth.