If the essence of art consists of shaping perceived 'reality', then this portrait by the Venetian Tintoretto is a shining example. On this dark canvas from 1561, he appears to have let the light itself choose what is revealed to the spectator: the face with the friendly expression, the hands, and, to a lesser extent, the head of the female statue at the bottom and the bases of the two columns on their plinth at the top. The dark palette and the highlights are typical of Venetian portraits from this period.The inscription on the dado tells us that this is the portrait of Giovanni Paolo Cornaro, son of Ermolao Cornaro, and that his age is 32. It is an official portrait of a static figure against a largely neutral and dark background. Cornaro was a member of a distinguished family and was a collector and antique dealer with a passion for Classical Antiquity. In 16th-century Italy, Greek and Roman antiques were in the process of being rediscovered, in every sense of the word, i.e., many new finds were made in this period. Tintoretto visualises Cornaro's cultural interest by adding the classical architectural fragment and the antique-style statue. Cornaro's hand resting on the statue's head speaks volumes.
SizeH: 102 cm
MediumOil on canvas