Tintoretto surprises us at Musée du Luxembourg

Tintoretto and studio, Christ and the adultery woman, ca 1547-1549, Palazzo Barberini

You might only know Tintoretto (1518-1594) for his fabulous paintings made at Scuola di San Rocco in Venice in 1564. I always make sure to go there whenever I visit the city of the Doges. But you will be surprised to find, here at Musée du Luxembourg, a very different artist, whose paintings of ladies are totally romantic and charming. I was mesmerized by what I discovered in this show devoted to his first 15 years.

Jesus among the doctors, La Disputa, ca 1539, Museo del Duomo, Milano

The exhibition starts with a map of Venice pointing out the key places for Tintoretto’s life and work. We are immediately transported in another world, that of a 16 th century cosmopolitan city, where artistic competition was fierce. The son of a dyer (thus his nickname of Tintoretto) Jacopo Robusti was confronted to color at a very early age. He studied in Titian’s studio and learned about perspective and anatomy. The first painting in the show is a self portrait executed at 30, where he shows his indominable ambition.

The Princess, St George and St Louis, 1551, Venice, Galleria dell’Accademia

Then appear immediately the very strong « Jesus among doctors » also called « La Disputa », painted around 1539. A huge book lies in the foreground and doctors are draped in extroardinary costumes. The composition is just astounding.

Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, ca 1546-1548, Bob Jones university, SC

Then « The Labyrinth of Love », lent by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, attracts the eye at the end of a gallery. Venice is partly represented in this bucolic garden where young couples fall in love. It is an amazing piece painted over 14 years.

Self portrait, ca 1547, Philadelphia Museum Art

A series of small paintings follow with « Cain and Abel » and « Wise Virgins and mad Virgins » which lead to  ” Christ and the adultory woman “, a masterpiece where architecture meets a court of justice  just like « Solomon and the Queen of Sheba » a painting lent by Bob Jones University in South Carolina. « The Princess, St George and St Louis » is also an overwhelming work with a dragon coming out from under the Princess’ dress. The armor reflects the young ladies’ figure.

Caïn and Abel, ca 1538-1539, Budapest, Szepmuveszeti Museum

The exhibition stops in 1555 when Tintoretto becomes very famous. It delivers another aspect of his art, inspired by sculpture and his own life with his lover and mother of Marietta. A few works are attributed to his studio where he already employed many assistants. They are nonetheless exceptional.

Esther beforeAhasuerus, ca 1554-1555, Museo del Prado Madrid

The exhibition is jointly curated by Roland Krischel from the Wallarf-Richartz Museum in Köln, and Michel Hochmann from Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris. “Tintoretto, birth of a genius” celebrates the 500 th anniversary of his birth  until July 1st at Musée du Luxembourg.

Tintoretto and studio, Labyrinth of love, 1538-1552, Lent by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

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