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Tintoretto (1518 – 1594) was an Italian painter of the Venetian school. His contemporaries noted the speed with which he painted and the unprecedented boldness of his brushwork. For his phenomenal energy in painting, he was termed “Il Furioso”. His work was characterised by his muscular figures, dramatic gestures and bold use of perspective.

Tintoretto loved all the arts and as a youth played the lute and various instruments, some of them of his invention, and designed theatrical costumes and properties. He was also well versed in mechanics and mechanical devices.

For the sake of his work, Tintoretto lived in a mostly retired fashion, and even when not painting, he prefered his working room surrounded by his collection of casts. He kept his work methods secret, which he shared only with his assistants.

A Tour of Tintoretto’s Art

  • The Origin of the Milky Way
    • “The Origin of the Milky Way” by Tintoretto depicts the myth about the infant Heracles who was brought to the Greek goddess Hera to be nursed as an infant. In the ancient Greek version of the tale, Hera nursed Heracles out of pity, but he suckled so strongly that in pain, Hera pushed him away. Her milk sprayed across the heavens and there formed the Milky Way.

      Fortunately for Heracles, he acquired supernatural powers with the divine milk. In the Roman version of the myth, the Roman god Jupiter wished to immortalise his infant son Hercules, whose mother was a mortal. To achieve this end, he held Hercules to the breasts of the sleeping, and unaware Roman goddess Juno and her milk spurted upwards to form the Milky Way. Museum: The National Gallery, London

  • Saint George and the Dragon
    • “Saint George and the Dragon” by Tintoretto depicts the legend of the saint slaying a dragon that demanded human sacrifices and thereby rescuing the princess chosen as the next offering. The earliest Byzantine icons representing Saint George as a horseman killing the dragon are dated to the 12th century.

      Pictures of Saint George and the Dragon became popular in the Byzantine art of Eastern Europe and was introduced into the Western Christian art tradition by the Crusades. The small size of this canvas suggests it was painted for personal use and not for display in a large church. Museum: The National Gallery, London

  • Self-Portrait as a Young Man
    • “Self-Portrait as a Young Man” by Tintoretto is an early and forceful self-portrait, created with the aid of a mirror. Portraits of artists became popular with collectors during the Renaissance.

      Tintoretto was known as a recluse who prefered his own company, who rarely smiled. Museum: Victoria and Albert Museum

Self-Portrait as a Young Man


A Tour of Artists you should Know

Tintoretto Quotes


“You can never do too much drawing.”


“Beautiful colours can be bought in the shops, but good drawing can only be bought from the casket of the artist’s talent with patient study and nights without sleep.”


“Grant me paradise in this world; I’m not so sure I’ll reach it in the next.”
– Tintoretto


Photo Credit: 1) Tintoretto [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons