Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Introduction to the Exhibition—Tintoretto: Artist of Renaissance Venice

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I am Dodge Thompson, Chief

of Exhibitions,

and it is my great pleasure,

on behalf of our new Director,

Kaywin Feldman--

and I see Kaywin right here.

It's amazing.

She is everywhere since she's

been here.

Kaywin, could you stand up

so that people have a visual?

[APPLAUSE]

To welcome you to the first day

and the inaugural lecture

of the exhibition Tintoretto,

Painter of Renaissance Venice.

From its earliest days,

Washington did not know

whether it wanted to be more

like Rome or like Venice.

But by the middle

of the 19th century,

it looked more like Venice.

The canal system was originally

conceived by George Washington

in 1785, and it was ultimately

meant to connect

with Pittsburgh, almost 250

miles away.

This print of 1852

shows what is the Smithsonian

Castle.

This, the main canal,

the great canal, is now where

Constitution Avenue is.

Constitution Avenue wasn't named

until 1931.

This is the original conception

by Robert Mills

of the Washington memorial,

but it was value-engineered

at the time of the Civil War.

And this is the original "water

gate," where water

from the Potomac came into the--

[LAUGHTER]

Regardless, for the next four

months, Washington will most

emphatically be Venice

on the Potomac,

with three exhibitions

celebrating

the 500th anniversary of Jacopo

Tintoretto, the greatest artist

actually born in Venice.

The National Gallery has one

of the world's great collections

of Venetian art,

including deep holdings

of the famous painters

of the Renaissance and later

Venice--

Bellini, Carpaccio, Giorgione,

Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese,

Tiepolo, and Canaletto.

And lest we think

that Venetian art and artists

peaked in the 18th century,

we should recall

that

the great Neoclassical sculptor,

Canova,

and the modernist painter,

Modigliani, both studied

at the Art Academy in Venice

and are well represented

in the National Gallery's

collection.

This year, to commemorate

the 500th anniversary

of the birth of Tintoretto,

the Gallery has organized

Tintoretto, Artist

of Renaissance Venice.

The main presentation will be

enriched by two

additional exhibitions, one

on Drawing

in Tintoretto's Venice,

organized by the Morgan Library

and Museum,

and Venetian Prints in the Time

of Tintoretto,

organized by the Gallery's print

department.

In a moment, the two guest

curators for the exhibitions,

Robert--

sorry-- the main exhibition,

Robert Echols and Frederick

Ilchman will each speak

about the exhibition's

highlight.

Frederick and Robert, could you

please stand?

[APPLAUSE]

Robert Echols

is an independent scholar

and curator.

He began his career as an art

historian

working at the National Gallery

in, dare I say, 1989,

cataloguing

in Venetian paintings

in the permanent collection

and helping with the preparation

of the landmark painting

exhibition, Titian, Prince

of Painters, in 1990.

That exhibition was also

a 500th anniversary exhibition

and also partnered

with the museums of Venice.

Robert wrote his PhD

dissertation on Tintoretto's

early career.

Since then, he has been

a leading scholar in separating

the works of Tintoretto

from those by his workshop

and followers.

In addition to co-editing

and contributing

to the exhibition catalog,

Robert's catalog entries

on the Gallery's

permanent collection

of Tintoretto and Tintoretto's

circle paintings were published

online this very week

after a 15-year campaign

involving many other leading

scholars.

So you can see that online

and see Robert's work elsewhere.

Frederick Ilchman, currently

the Chair of the Department

of Europe

department at the Museum of Fine

Arts Boston, also wrote his PhD

dissertation on Tintoretto.

For the last 15 years,

Frederick and Robert have

collaborated on Tintoretto

research and played a major role

in groundbreaking exhibitions

in Madrid, Boston, Venice,

and now in Washington.

Frederick is also Chairman

of Save Venice, the largest

non-profit dedicating

to restoring art

and architecture in Venice.

And as a lead-up

to the exhibition, Save Venice

restored no fewer than 19

paintings, 4 of which

are in the exhibition

on the main floor

that you'll see later today.

Robert.

[APPLAUSE]

Thank you, and buongiorno.

[LAUGHTER]

Buongiorno, buongiorno.

OK.

Frederick and I are incredibly

excited to be here to see

the fruit of so much work

over the last five years

realized.

And we are so thrilled

by the exhibition, which

is absolutely beautiful.

I should start out by saying

that Frederick and I are going

to alternate.

I will start, then he will give

a middle section,

and I'll conclude.

I want to start out by just

quoting a few of the things that

have been said about Jacopo

Robusti, called Tintoretto

in his lifetime

and the centuries since then.

Giorgio Vasari, the painter

and author of The Lives

of the Artists in 1568,

so a contemporary of Tintoretto,

called him "the most

extraordinary brain

that painting has ever

produced."

El Greco, talking about one

of his paintings in Venice,

called it "the most beautiful

painting in the world."

Peter Paul Rubens purchased five

paintings by Tintoretto that he

kept

in his permanent collection.

Diego Velzquez, in Venice,

bought paintings by Tintoretto

to send home to the King

of Spain for the royal

collection.

Henry James, to skip ahead

a few centuries,

said that Tintoretto was

the biggest genius who ever

wielded a brush.

He went on to say,

"if Shakespeare is the greatest

of poets, then Tintoretto

is assuredly the greatest

of painters."

In his day, Tintoretto was

an avant-garde painter.

He was a challenger.

He provoked controversy.

If his pictures may seem

somewhat less astonishing today

than they did in his own day,

it's primarily because he

anticipated and indeed

influenced so many

of the developments

over the subsequent centuries.

First and foremost, Tintoretto

was a painter

of the human figure.

It's the bodies

and its energies, not the faces,

that convey meaning and emotion

in his paintings.

His protagonists are

like Michelangelo sculptures

brought to life.

They're always in motion.

They swivel.

They turn.

They reach.

They push forward.

They pull back.

His paintings are filled

with motion and energy.

He builds his compositions based

on the interaction

of the figures to one another,

the energy that flows

between them.

Space itself seems energized.

It seems to expand and contract.

The laws of space and of gravity

seem not to operate.

Tintoretto's always looking

for new ways

to depict a traditional subject.

He'll often move

the primary action

to the background

or the middle ground

of a painting

and put secondary figures up

front.

Often they seem to be leaping

out of the canvas

through the picture plane

into our own space.

From the beginning, Tintoretto

paints big.

And over the course

of his career, his paintings

get bigger and bigger.

He devises super-paintings

capable of dominating

huge spaces.

This painting

of the crucifixion, in reality,

is just about the size

of the image you see here.

The actual painting may even

be a little larger.

To everything he does,

Tintoretto brings a sense

of spectacle, of showmanship.

He wants to overwhelm

the viewer.

His depiction of the crucifixion

is too large to be taken

in at once.

So your eyes wander around

the painting as you come to one

episode, one vignette

after another.

And this creates a sense

of the action unfolding

over time.

It's cinematic.

It's

like a cinematic spectacular.

And, in fact, no lesser figure

than Jean-Paul Sartre

referred to Tintoretto

as "the first film director."

At the same time,

Tintoretto's depictions

of these biblical events

especially are brought--

he brings them down to Earth.

He portrays them in terms

that his contemporaries,

his viewers,

would have recognized.

For example, here we see

the laborers who are pulling

the cross with the good thief

crucified upon it, in just

the same way that the workers

in Venice's Arsenale,

its great shipyard,

would have heaved up

a mast on a newly-created ship.

Down at their feet,

you see the tools of their trade

that would have been absolutely

familiar to working Venetians--

a saw, an ax, some newly

sharpened wooden stakes that are

going to hold the cross up,

a ladder, and rope.

Now, to implement

these gigantic visions,

Tintoretto developed a very

innovative pictorial technique.

He studied, we know, with fresco

painters,

the painters who fresco

the outside of buildings

in Venice,

also with furniture decorators

who actually worked outside

in Piazza San Marco,

painting

little decorative figures

on chests and that sort

of thing.

These were low prestige

painters, but Tintoretto learned

from them because they had

to work fast,

and that's what Tintoretto

wanted to do.

He wanted a technique that would

enable him to cover

these large pieces of canvas

as rapidly as possible.

He was always ready to move on

to the next commission.

Sometimes Tintoretto appears

to be drawing in paint.

He uses this kind of drawing

technique at all levels

of the painting.

He leaves the mark of the brush

visible on the canvas,

and that's something that was

unexpected in his day.

To contemporary viewers,

this was controversial.

And a constant refrain

in contemporary writing

about Tintoretto

is that his paintings look

like they've not been finished.

He needs to not be in such

a hurry,

to take more time to bring

things to a more careful finish.

And today, we, after centuries

of 17th-century painting

of Impressionism,

of Expressionism,

we're used to this kind

of dynamic, evident brushwork.

But at the time,

it was new and controversial.

He lays out broad areas of color

boldly, indicating light

and shade

with a few zigzagging, very

quick, rapid indications.

A painting like this

could almost

be a contemporary painting.

And, in fact,

successive generations

of painters

learned from Tintoretto.

We would say it's possible

to draw a direct line from

Tintoretto's dynamic

and expressive brushwork right

through Rubens, Delacroix,

Gricault up to de Kooning

and the Abstract Expressionism,

Expressionists, onto painters

of our own day like Gerhard

Richter and Anselm Kiefer,

gestural painters, painterly

painters, both of whom are

deeply devoted to Tintoretto.

And here you see a very recent

painting

by a young Spanish painter named

Jorge Pombo, who explicitly

takes his inspiration

from Tintoretto.

So Tintoretto was

the dominant painter

in the second half

of the 16th century in Venice,

a golden age of Venetian

painting.

He's an important figure in art

history, played a major impact,

had a major impact

on the development

of Western painting.

Why isn't he better known?

His name may be familiar,

but he has nowhere

near the profile

of his contemporaries

like Michelangelo, Titian, or El

Greco.

He's not well represented

in American museum collections

with the exception

of the National Gallery, which

has a fine Tintoretto

collection,

and, as Dodge mentioned,

contributed four paintings

to the exhibition in Venice

and here.

The same is true of Tintoretto's

exhibition history.

The first Tintoretto exhibition

ever was held in Venice in 1937,

and 70 years passed before there

was another Tintoretto

exhibition.

The exhibition that opens

here is the first ever outside

of Europe, the first ever

in North America.

So why this comparative neglect

of this major artist?

One reason is the sheer size

of Tintoretto's paintings

and the logistics involved

in transporting them.

To bring paintings

across the Atlantic,

if you're flying

in a normal flight, 6 feet

is about the maximum height that

can be accommodated in the cargo

hold.

Even with a gigantic 747 cargo

plane, 10 feet

is about the highest dimension

that can be accommodated.

And that is for the painting

crated, put into safety crates

with all kinds of protection.

So for Tintoretto,

these are medium-sized and even

smallish paintings.

There are

other logistical reasons.

Many of his greatest paintings

are in Venice.

And that means getting them out

of the spaces that, you know,

where they're hanging,

you have to go

around narrow hallways,

steep corners, steep staircases.

And in Venice, there

is a particular problem

that, inevitably, there's going

to be a water journey.

You have to get the painting

on the boat.

So there was generally a feeling

since 1937, for a long time,

for 70 years, that it was simply

not possible to have

a Tintoretto exhibition outside

of Venice.

Another problem

is that Tintoretto can be

a hard artist to understand,

and in particular,

because he was something

of a victim of his own success.

Towards the end of his career,

he had far more commissions

than he could handle himself.

He developed a large studio,

so he had many assistants

working for him.

And he had many imitators

and followers.

And one of the problems

with Tintoretto studies

in the 20th century

was that his oeuvre had expanded

to include works by all

these followers, studio

assistants, imitators.

Many of these

were mediocre works.

Some of them were very fine

works.

And the one you see here,

here in the National Gallery,

is one of those.

This is a painting

that, if the exhibition had been

held 30 years ago,

would definitely have been

included.

It was considered to be one

of Tintoretto's masterpieces.

But on the basis of research

that I've done,

and Frederick agrees,

the painting is now attributed

by the National Gallery

to Circle of Tintoretto,

probably Lambert Sustris,

a rather

mysterious northern painter who

painted in Venice under the name

of Lamberto d'Amsterdam.

And if you want to read more

about this, as Dodge mentioned,

the new volume of the very

complete systematic catalog

has just gone online.

You can take a look

at this painting,

at the research, the reasons,

the arguments that it's not

by Tintoretto,

and some fascinating X-rays

of two different compositions

that lie under the surface here.

But I'm getting a little far

afield here,

and I'm going to turn

the lectern over now

to Frederick.

I'll be back in a while,

after he has made

his presentations.

But he's going to review

key landmarks in Tintoretto's

career and the Venetian context

that helped shape this artist.

So, Frederick.

[APPLAUSE]

Buongiorno.

[LAUGHTER]

Excellent.

So as Bob said, this is

a real thrill to be here to see

a sort of pipe dream

of a dozen years ago, like, what

would it be like to do

an exhibition for our painter's

500th anniversary?

And now to see it on view,

and through the skill

of the National Gallery,

and the talents of the design

department,

be

such a beautifully-presented,

beautifully-lit exhibition

with just gorgeous wall colors,

one room after another.

So who was Tintoretto?

And what were his high points?

Why is he important?

So his family name was Robusti,

but he's called Tintoretto.

That's his nickname.

And I'll get to that

in a second.

But the key thing is we know

his death date, which was May

31 in 1594 at the age of 75.

So he was born sometime in 1518

or 1519,

which means

that his 500th birthday is

either 2018 or 2019,

and conveniently, that gives us

a two-year span to hold

a celebration.

But this artist deserves it.

Born in Venice, died in Venice--

this is really key.

So many other major figures

of the Venetian Renaissance

were out-of-towners.

They came to Venice for work.

It was a bustling, commercial

capital.

But Tintoretto alone was born

there in the city.

And this is his family,

his profession.

His father was a dyer,

a tintore.

And this woodcut from a book

on the trades of Venice

shows people dying cloths

or dying silk and wool.

And his father was a tintore,

and so he was then

the tintoretto, the little dyer,

the son of the dyer.

And he adopted this nickname.

Unlike some painters and artists

who wanted grander names,

interestingly, he identified

more with a sort of artisan

class, sort of solidarity there.

Also, he's described as being

a kind of small guy

with a lot of personality,

really sort of thought big.

There's one description

from when Tintoretto was still

a young man--

he said he was a bit

like a peppercorn that

overpowers all the flavors

in a stew--

so a little guy with a lot

of energy.

Let's look at Venice

of Tintoretto's time.

Now, I admit,

this is the 17th century map,

not a 16th century map.

But the crazy thing is Venice,

although going

through a building boom,

still looks fundamentally

the same.

Later, where you have all

the key monuments, the backwards

S of the Grand Canal,

the different neighborhoods--

this was the largest

industrial area

of the whole Renaissance.

This is the Arsenale that Robert

mentioned a minute ago, which

created the ships that would

form the basis of the Venetian

Navy and its merchant fleet.

And the crazy thing also, 2019,

you could still use this map

to get around Venice.

I mean, it's really that intact.

And it's not just

a beautiful intact city

with the highest concentration

of historic architecture

in the world, it also really

is the city of Tintoretto.

But let's go back a step

and think

about the Venetian aesthetic,

the visual culture, what people

in Tintoretto's time,

and particularly, Tintoretto

himself, how they saw the world.

Well, the basic piece,

of course, is the Church of San

Marco.

You know, in 828, the Venetians

were able to steal the body

of Saint Mark

from Alexandria in Egypt

to bring it to Venice.

Suddenly, Venice now had its,

you know, NFL franchise

or its basketball team.

It was now a big, big league

city.

And they built

as the private chapel

of the Doge

and the splendid reliquary,

in effect, for the relics

of this evangelist, Mark-- built

this beautiful church very much

in the Byzantine style.

You can see tiny windows, very

thick walls.

This is a great example

of Romanesque, or also called

Byzantine, architecture.

The key thing is the lower walls

are covered

with beautiful stones, marbles,

and various things, and then

the floors as well.

And then all the other walls

and the forms, the ceiling,

the vaults, are all covered

in beautiful golden mosaics, so

gold and glass,

and various precious and

semiprecious stones.

And if you look up in San Marco,

you see

these beautiful services.

And, of course, they are

the lives of Saint Mark,

the life of Christ,

key stories from Christian faith

as a kind of permanent point

of reference

for all later artists.

These are 11th, 12th century

mosaics, extremely beautiful,

and they--

with even lighting, they're

beautiful, but imagine if they

were entirely lit with shafts

of light, or even better, light

of multiple candles.

That would make this whole--

all the services glow

like heaven above.

And an important reminder

about mosaics

is each little piece,

each tessera,

is set specifically just

off center from its neighbor,

which means it gives a more

effective shimmering gleam

and glow.

And this is what the--

this would've been sort

of second nature

to the Venetians,

to come

into this important church

often, and understand this way

of creating

shimmering, faceted forms.

But, of course, it's not just

Byzantine aesthetic of icons

and mosaics, but also the very

physical setting of Venice.

Remember, city of pathways,

city squares, but also

canals and open bodies of water.

And in Venice, one

of the key things

is the reflection of light off

of moving water, so an almost

completely smooth surface

of that water there,

a little ripple there, and then

the sun reflects off

and shatters in millions of bits

on the underside of that bridge.

So it makes even a very humble

bridge in a sort

of out-of-the-way corner

in Venice turn back

into a golden dome of San Marco.

And this is the kind

of aesthetic that Tintoretto

and other people in Venice

would have grown up with.

But there's another-- not just

the golden glow of Venice,

but also the sort of more

surprising or disorienting

Venice.

And think of that spaces

like this contemporary

photograph, how you will have

strong shafts of light and deep

pools of shadow

next to each other.

Venice is full of chiaroscuro

effects.

Also, you have to know where

you're going.

If you go straight ahead

on the path

on the left upper bridge,

you go straight ahead, down

into the canal.

So you need

to be aware of your setting

and know these juxtapositions.

And these sharp changes

of direction and color

are completely

important to experiencing

Venice.

And this is something

that Tintoretto did.

He learned to see there

as a boy.

He thought

about the Venetian aesthetic

of mosaics and reflected water,

but also one

of tight, cramped spaces

and big, open areas.

Now, a painter of an earlier

generation who really makes

the case for Venice

as a thriving commercial hub

is, of course, Carpaccio.

And a picture like this

reminds us that this was

a commercial center.

It was full of businessmen,

and for good reason.

Shakespeare named his play

The Merchant of Venice.

There is a kind of horror vacui,

so much detail in this picture,

it's been described

as an eyewitness-style.

The ostensible subject

is an exorcism which

is happening

in the upper-left corner

with a relic of the True Cross.

That is a piece of the cross,

the wooden cross, on which

Christ was crucified that is

causing this exorcism.

It's freeing this young man

of the devil,

and that's the miracle.

But in a way, the other miracle

is what's happening everyday

in Venice.

We have the wooden Rialto

Bridge, then a drawbridge,

commerce from all

around the world.

Then there's just so much detail

in this--

the chimney pots, the laundry

hanging--

that it really convinces you

that all the details are there.

This miracle surely happened.

But even if this is a bit

like the mosaics,

covering every inch

of the canvas, in this case,

it's hard to figure out

the subject.

And that's something

really Tintoretto resolves

to do.

By the time his art really

coalesces, he is an artist who

is telling stories

in new and innovative ways.

But it's clear

that a real miracle is

happening.

You don't have to go looking

for it.

So this is a very important

self-portrait.

He's about 29 or so years old.

We believe it's

right on the brink of his sort

of breakthrough as an artist.

It shows the young man,

Tintoretto himself,

looking out at us with a kind

of scowl on his face.

A bit arrogant-- he's sort of

desperate to make it,

but also confident that he will.

And everywhere you see

in this little picture, which

packs a real punch,

there is just wonderful details,

little highlights

on his forehead,

his nose, that mark--

light coming down on his face,

those highlights, very loosely

painted hair,

the scraggly beard, and no signs

of setting or status.

There's no sort of costume

or indication

of the room he's in.

Instead, it's a focus

on

that extraordinary, confident,

strong glare of Tintoretto

himself.

And this is really the moment

just before he begins--

makes it big.

And it gives you a sense

of his strong personality.

Robert and I believe this is

just

about the first loosely-painted

self-portrait in Western art.

Earlier self-portraits are quite

meticulous and inward.

This one is kind of explosive,

outward.

And you think you can draw

a line

towards the loosely-painted

self-portraits of later artists

like Rubens and Courbet,

particularly.

I mean, this could almost be

a 19th-century painting-- you

know, onto van Gogh, Czanne,

and later.

Now, as a young artist,

Tintoretto really was faceted as

by three-dimensional work,

and what could be more

sculptural than Michelangelo?

He may have never-- certainly

didn't meet Michelangelo.

He may have never even seen

a Michelangelo original.

We're not sure.

But he certainly would have seen

many, many works

inspired by Michelangelo,

that his drawings, prints,

small sculptural models in clay,

or wax, or bronze.

So he would study

these sculptures, which are not

clearly the originals,

in the Medici Chapel,

but rather a small work you put

on your table.

That way you could look at it

from strong angles--

directly above, from the feet,

et cetera.

And he would use, based

on blue paper,

using mostly black chalk

and charcoal

for the darks and white chalk

for the lights

to bring out the figure,

rippling muscles in full three

dimensions.

As his art became more

sophisticated, he began to make

fun of the mythological topics

that his rival

and 30-year senior artist,

Titian, specialized in.

This is a funny picture--

Venus and Mars Surprised

by Vulcan.

Venus is the goddess of love

and beauty.

She's married to Vulcan,

but her boyfriend is Mars,

over here.

And unfortunately, her husband

came home a little early,

and Mars is still wearing

his armor.

He's hiding under the table,

while meanwhile Vulcan, rather

humiliatingly,

inspects his wife right there.

The family dog is now

about to give away poor Mars--

his presence.

And, you know, saying, shh,

shh, stop it, dog.

Meanwhile, in the background,

Cupid there, who is Venus's

sidekick there,

pretends to be sleeping,

but he's watching everything.

And keep in mind, the right arm

here, bent just this way

over a cushion, and you'll see

that it's a deliberate reference

to a very beautiful,

erotically-charged fixture

of just a couple of years

earlier,

a year earlier, the Danae

by Titian.

So what for Titian is

a glorious, beautiful theme

is something of a bawdy bedroom

farce by Tintoretto.

So this shows an artist who

wanted to make his own way,

make his own statements

and, indeed, upset

the traditions and the artists

of the past.

Compare that to the Carpaccio

painting I showed you a minute

ago with all the hubbub

and commerce of Venice.

This, instead, is a focus that's

quite

extraordinary on the miracle

happening.

So this is a set

of posthumous miracles of Saint

Mark.

And what happens in this story

is there is a slave who goes

from Provence in southern France

to Venice,

makes his own pilgrimage

to worship at the relics

of Saint Mark.

When he comes back, his owner

is--

the sort of feudal lord here--

is furious because he's a good

pagan, and they don't--

you know, doesn't like when

his slaves and servants go AWOL.

So what happens is they punish

him.

They say, we're going to use

these big stakes to poke out

your eyes.

And these tools have no effect.

We're going to use a mallet

to shatter your legs,

and the mallet itself breaks.

And you see

this wonderful left-to-right

motion as these figures

here, one after another

of the tortures

are rendered ineffective.

And it gradually dawns on them

that their miracle is happening.

This figure shows the bits

of the broken mallet, and then

this figure here, who

is the feudal lord,

is utterly astonished.

It's a moment of conversion

for him.

They're all going to go get

converted

and follow Saint Mark,

because Saint Mark is not just

the inspiration for the slave,

but also Saint Mark is swooping

in from above, a bit

like Superman

to rescue the slave down below.

And this was

an extraordinary piece.

It's about as big on the screen

as it is in person--

a demonstration piece,

Tintoretto's breakthrough.

He is quoting Sansovino,

and Raphael, and Titian,

and Michelangelo,

and making references to all

these artists and paintings just

so beautifully.

You really see

both complete sense

of the anatomy, the human body,

beautiful passages of zigzag

paint rendered on the surface.

This is an artist who's saying,

not just that he understands

Sansovino, Raphael,

Michelangelo, Titian, et cetera,

but he's insisting that he

belongs, from now on,

in their company.

So this is Tintoretto by the end

of the 1540s.

He is now in his early 30s,

and he's emerged as a very

powerful artist.

One painting which we really

love and makes very clear

is that we are told

by his biographer

that Tintoretto wrote

on the wall of a studio,

to inspire him

as a young artist, "Il disegno

di Michelangelo e il colorito di

Tiziano," so we translate that,

Robert

and I, as "the draftsmanship

of Michelangelo

and the paint-handling

of Titian."

And whether or not he actually

wrote that motto on the wall

to inspire him, his work,

starting from The Miracle

of the Slave,

and works like this,

show completely that fusion.

You have life-sized figures,

big muscular, Michelangelesque,

strongly rendered with the firm

contours,

very three-dimensional,

projecting into our space, very

sculptural,

but also beautiful brushwork.

And you see that all over,

particularly on the princess's

beautiful dress or the dragon

that's been killed right here.

This is an artist who's trying

to fuse those two

different ideas or ideals

and is succeeding brilliantly.

This picture was actually done

for the treasury building

of Venice near the Rialto

Bridge--

two different treasurers.

They had 16-month terms.

These were Venetian aristocrats,

who kind of ran

the various finance committees

of the Venetian government.

And then, at the end

of their term, they would,

at their own expense,

commission pictures

of their named saints.

So if your name were Francesco,

you'd have Saint Francis--

that kind of thing.

So we have a Giorgio, wants

his Saint George,

and Alvise, same Venetian word

for--

dialect word for Louis.

So once we've got Giorgio

and Alvise, or Louis,

they commissioned their painting

from Tintoretto to celebrate

their term of office.

And, indeed, these would be then

placed in the treasury building

as a kind of continued

decoration.

But this picture

is so different.

It's not just two saints

standing there kind of calmly.

No, it spills out

into our space--

the dragon with its beady

eyes, and there is a bit

of the spear right

through its head.

Another bit of the spear

comes out towards us.

The two coats of arms, which

identify the figures,

are right in front of us.

And there's

an extraordinary reflection.

The princess there, who's really

just an attribute, an identifier

of Saint George,

is now occupying the front area.

And look, she's seeing

her own reflection in his armor.

It's

an extraordinary comparison,

really.

Painting and sculpture trying

to see which one can show more

three dimensions.

And then another thing-- point

important to make--

he was controversial not just,

as Robert said,

for his loosely-painted,

unfinished-seeming pictures,

but also for taking

some improprieties.

And this, the princess here

in the painting, was criticized

for being too suggestive

in her pose, astride the dragon.

That was seen as not--

seen as far too sexual

and suggestive.

Apparently you're supposed

to ride your dragon side-saddle.

Who knew?

[LAUGHTER]

But this picture, what was

criticized-- and this gives you

a great example of Tintoretto

sort

of pushing buttons and trying

to make his paintings

exciting and as talked about as

possible.

Now, one of the great subjects

in Christian art

and the one single subject most

connected with Tintoretto

is the Last Supper.

And he did nine of these,

and this is probably his finest.

But think

of the Florentine tradition

of Last Suppers in the 1400s--

long table, parallel

to the picture plane, all

the men-- all the disciples are

sitting on one side generally,

all kind of lined up, kind

of a team picture--

and this, though, so much more

exciting.

The table, now, is kind

of square.

It's pointing out to us, jutting

towards us.

The table top is flipped up

so you can see what's on it.

And instead of all the figures

being posed similarly, each one

is having a different reaction

to the statement, one of you

present here has betrayed me,

or will betray me.

And it does

an extraordinary effect.

This apostle has just put down

the jug of wine.

He's putting his--

he's swiveling when he hears

the statement.

This one is leaning in.

He's sitting on a very humble

stool.

And it's almost

like the movement

of an accordion,

in and out as the figures

swivel, pivot, lean in,

or start back in astonishment.

And another key thing

about this, part of the implied

energy is also the specificity

of the setting.

As Robert said it earlier,

about the tools of the people

at the crucifixion,

look how simple-- the rush chair

is overturned here,

a simple stool.

The table is, in fact, on kind

of saw horses,

so very simple legs.

The figures also have patched

clothing.

And this shows a very important

solidarity Tintoretto had

with the poor

and the downtrodden.

For his entire career,

he believes, in his paintings,

that really they are the most

deserving of Christ followers

and makes clear in picture

after picture.

Now, in May, 1564,

is the most notorious episode

in Tintoretto's career.

The Scuola Grande di San Rocco,

which

is the charitable brotherhood,

a confraternity,

has been building

this beautiful, deluxe meeting

house.

And now it's time to decorate

the interior with paintings.

May of 1564, there's

a competition.

A short list comes.

They ask for major painters

in Venice, though Tintoretto was

the only one who was born there.

He was also the oldest

by that time.

So probably he had more

at stake.

All the artists are told-- all

four-- they should arrive with

a drawing saying how they would

depict Saint Roque in glory,

so San Rocco--

San Rocco in glory.

And you can imagine each

of them--

the other artists would have

their drawing and say, well,

here I'm going to put God

the Father, here Saint Roque,

some angels,

some beautiful, heavenly light.

But when it comes time

for Tintoretto

to show his drawing,

he doesn't have a drawing.

And the other artists are very

suspicious.

No, when it's time

for Tintoretto to show

his drawing, he instead

has pulled aside a big piece

of cardboard

on the ceiling, showing, not

a drawing, but a completed oil

painting installed

in its intended position.

[LAUGHTER]

So clearly, Tintoretto had

someone on the inside to help

him--

measurements, get a key to get

it up there, but he's

able to completely subvert

the competition.

And he tells

the frustrated other artists,

well, this is how I make

drawings-- implying, why do you

care about judging the drawing

when the important thing is

the finished painting?

That's what you're looking

to get done.

And then he also turns

to the ruling--

the Banca, the officers

of the Scuola, and he says

that, I'm making this a present

of my--

showing my devotion to Saint

Roque, giving this to the Scuola

as a gift.

He also knew that the Scuola had

a policy, that all gifts

large or small must be accepted.

So this is how he--

[LAUGHTER]

--so this is how he gets

his foot in the door,

by devious means, but it allows

him to start in decorating this.

And this picture is, in fact,

full of conspicuously expensive

pigments.

He was really trying to show off

and make sure

that

this auto-generated commission,

or victorious gambit,

would work.

So then he goes on and spends

the next 25 years decorating

three large rooms, walls

and ceilings,

in the Scuola Grande di San

Rocco--

more than 50 paintings,

canvases, by him that

devotes much of the rest

of his career.

He's made a member

of the Scuola.

There's really no ensemble

like this.

There are more than-- as I said,

more than 50 paintings.

It's really sort of Venice's

Sistine Chapel.

And it's hard to think

of an equivalent

of that many truly great oil

and canvas paintings in one

building,

still intact hundreds of years

later.

As he is moving along in San

Rocco, he also begins to take up

a subject that his rival,

and 30 years older painter,

Titian, had done so beautifully.

We think it's quite interesting

that right around the time

that Titian dies in 1576,

Tintoretto takes up

these subjects.

This is a kind of very amusing,

joyful picture, not as cynical

as the Venus and Mars and Vulcan

of earlier.

But the story is that Jupiter

here, king of the gods,

has identified by this eagle

with thunderbolts.

That's Jupiter's attribute.

He has a child

with a human woman.

And he would like to give

this baby--

little baby Hercules-- all

of the strength and immortality

of the gods.

But for that, he needs

the mother's milk of a goddess.

So rather naively, Jupiter

thinks that he can take

this baby

and have it suck at the breast

of his wife, Juno,

while she's sleeping.

[LAUGHTER]

And, of course, it doesn't work

because she immediately wakes

up.

And you can see the smile

on her face, and she swivels

her body, throws out her arms,

and so the milk spills.

And some of the milk,

as the little baby is sucking so

energetically,

flies up into the heavens

to make the stars of the Milky

Way.

And other milk flies down

to the Earth to create

a new flower, the lily.

And it's a funny, but joyous

and sort of cheerful painting,

and it is painted

with conspicuously expensive

materials.

Particularly note, there's

a deep blue cape over the back

of Jupiter, and then

this deep blue blanket here

on this sort of celestial bed,

and those are made

of ultramarine blue-- oltremare,

brought from over the sea.

It's ground-up lapis lazuli

from Afghanistan,

a conspicuously expensive

pigment, and one that gives this

a kind of deluxe presentation

right from the start.

So Tintoretto is not just

painting his own pictures.

He's running a workshop.

And this picture shows

a Venetian workshop

and an artist that worked

with Tintoretto, Odoardo

Fialetti.

And this shows the kind

of division of labor

that would have occurred

in the later years

of Tintoretto's workshop

in the 1570s, 1580s,

up till his death in 1594,

where you have

in the back someone

working on a canvas doing

landscapes and sky.

You could subcontract

your landscapes in a painting

to an assistant.

And meanwhile, this is probably

Tintoretto himself with that hat

and that nose we've seen before,

sitting at the center of all

the action,

working on a picture.

People are preparing materials

in the background.

And then some pupils,

and including a very young

child, are making drawings

from sculpture.

So drawing from sculpture

and learning three dimensions

on a two-dimensional surface

was a really key part

of the curriculum.

Now in the studio,

there were two sons

of Tintoretto and one daughter.

And it's one of the sort

of tantalizing mysteries

of Venetian studies

is that we do not know enough

about Marietta Tintoretto.

She was his beloved daughter

and trained as an artist.

And she says-- that she's given

Marietta Tintoretta,

and Pittrice, so female painter.

She gets her own biography, one

of the first women artists

to have a separate biography

as an artist.

And we're told that she does

many portraits.

She works with her father.

And she is invited

by major aristocrats

to come and be a court painter.

But although she undoubtedly

worked on many of the big group

efforts

and did

many individual portraits,

thus far, we have not been

able to identify any Marietta

paintings with certainty.

But my co-curator, Bob Echols,

had, a decade ago,

a very interesting intuition,

and I've been following this,

and we want to push

this further.

Noticing at the San Trovaso

Last Supper,

you've got all the apostles,

disciples, around the table,

slightly off to the side here

with the red leggings would be

Judas, not quite part

of the group,

but still observant, and then

another figure at the far left

who seems, on the whole,

further out.

And this is a page boy, standing

there holding some more food as

if one of the servants

at the Last Supper.

And it's a very distinct face.

It's not the kind of generic,

kind of handsome face

we see in other Tintorettos.

It seems very portrait-like,

and Bob's intuition was, maybe

this is not a page boy,

but a page girl.

Could this be the young Marietta

Tintoretto, 10 or 11?

As we're told

by that biographer,

that Tintoretto so loved

his little daughter that he

would dress her up as a boy

and take her with him wherever

he went.

On all his errands,

he taught her to paint.

And so we wonder, could this

here show Marietta at about 11,

and then maybe this show

her at about 30?

So no way to prove it,

but indeed we love this idea,

because it helps explain a quite

unusual detail on the left side

of that painting.

Meanwhile, the eldest son,

Domenico, quite

an accomplished portrait painter

in his own right, doing pictures

of this quality

during his father's lifetime,

he became the foreman

of the workshop and was really

running

the day-to-day operations

in the later '80s and '90s.

And then, after Jacopo's death

in 1594, continues the workshop

for many, many more years.

And indeed, on Tintoretto's

last, latest commissions,

those are very much

collaborations between father

and son.

And this work, a very beautiful,

haunting Entombment of Christ,

typically called, or generally

called Tintoretto's

last painting--

Robert and I believe

that the composition is totally

the father.

I mean, it's a brilliant idea.

You've got Calvary, where

the crucifixion was,

in the background and that kind

of zigzag motion.

Here you see the Virgin Mary

fainting.

Just 20 seconds earlier,

the body of her son

had been on her lap,

and she's mourning his death.

And then, when the helpers pick

up the body to take it

for burial,

that's when it really hits her,

that he's really dead,

and there's no coming back,

and that's when she faints.

And then the figures bring body

forward.

This was an altar piece--

is an altar piece for the Church

of San Giorgio Maggiore,

in the Chapel of the Dead.

And as they hold the body up,

of course, it reminds us

of the Eucharist, the communion

service where the priest holds

up the bread--

body of Christ in the bread,

body of Christ here

in the painting,

lowering him onto the slab,

or even, you could argue,

bringing him down

through the picture plane

into our space,

where you could place his body

on the actual altar table,

making clear the mystery

of the Mass.

Even if most or nearly all

of the execution

was done by Domenico Tintoretto,

the son, it's clearly Jacopo,

the father's brilliant design

and concept.

But a wonderful example

of collaboration

late in the game

for the Tintoretto household.

And from just a few years

before that,

we have

this extraordinary painting,

kind of book into his career.

This is a self-portrait

by Tintoretto.

It's six years before he dies.

He goes on after this to manage

the studio, seek commissions, do

deals, instruct his pupils,

try to help out his children.

But this is more or less

the moment when he ceases

to paint a lot himself.

Unlike the very aggressive

and confident, sort

of itchy self-portrait

as the young man,

he now is, indeed,

retrospective, looking

in on himself, or maybe

not so much at us, but past us.

He's done well financially--

simple tunic in the first

painting, now you can see fur

collar--

but boy, is he tired.

It's been quite a career.

And it's fascinating that

douard Manet, the great painter

of Parisian boulevards

and flaneurs in the 1860s found

this, one of the greatest

paintings of all, and Manet

said, every time he went

to the Louvre, he would go

to see this.

And he even made a copy of it

himself.

And again, shows the inspiration

that a Renaissance painter

from Venice

could have

on great, great artists

of later periods.

So now that we've surveyed some

of the real high points,

you can see that Bob and I are

faced

with a fundamental challenge.

How do you capture this artist

in a museum exhibition?

Can one do justice here

in America to a painter so

identified

with the enormous canvases

of his hometown?

So to lead you through our goals

in preparing this exhibition

and how we overcame

the various challenges,

my co-curator returns

to the lectern.

Thank you.

[APPLAUSE]

So our fundamental goal

was to mount an anniversary

celebration that would capture

the essence of what so impressed

Tintoretto's contemporaries

and has continued to awe

visitors to Venice, like Henry

James, over the centuries.

For those who don't really know

Tintoretto, we wanted to present

the full scope

of his accomplishment

and demonstrate what

a powerful and innovative

painter he is.

And for those who do know him,

or think they know him,

we wanted to provide

some new perspectives,

some new ways of approaching

certain aspects of his art,

new attributions, attention

to newly cleaned and previously

underrated pictures.

So here is the floor plan

of the exhibition.

Many of you

have been through it.

This is the Garden Court.

You enter up this way,

come around.

Out here, this is where

the video is shown,

and then out to the final room.

So the exhibition progresses

roughly chronologically,

but we wanted to give each room

a theme that focuses

in on some particular aspect

of Tintoretto's art.

And we've given a rubric

to each room, so the very first

room, we call the Mark

of the Brush, and we're really

emphasizing Tintoretto

as an innovator and avant-garde

painter, and particularly

focusing

in on his distinctive,

innovative brushwork.

And then in the next room, which

we call Breakthrough,

we show how he moved

beyond the kind of lack

of controlled wildness,

over-the-top quality

of his earlier paintings,

and brought it into control.

The third room, called Heroic

Bodies, really focuses

on his study of sculpture

and Michelangelo.

Then we have a room that covers

portraiture throughout

Tintoretto's entire career.

We move onto Tintoretto

as storyteller, that focuses in

on his narrative techniques

and shows

that fabulous Last Supper

that Frederick was showing you

from the Church of San Trovaso.

Then we have a room dedicated

to Tintoretto at work, where we

try and get under the skin

of Tintoretto's paintings,

show how they were made,

show how he used drawings

and prepared his compositions.

Then the next room is the Mantle

of Titian, which shows him

moving into this new subject

matter

after the death of Titian, more

secular subjects, more sensual,

and aimed at a more aristocratic

audience.

Previously, he'd been working

primarily for the churches

and confraternities of Venice.

And now that Titian was dead,

he was going after the kings,

the Holy Roman Emperor,

and the really big

international European market.

And then finally, we show

paintings from the very end

of his career, his sacred,

religious paintings, a very

meditative, in a room called

Sacred Meditations.

Now, in Venice, the show

was in Venice, which made things

a little simpler.

You could leave the Palazzo

Ducale.

You could walk upstairs

to the Hall of the Maggior

Consiglio,

and see his great Paradiso

painting there.

You could go out to the Church

of San Rocco.

You could

go to the other churches

in Venice and see Tintoretto's

paintings in the sites where--

many of them still in the sites

for which they were

commissioned.

So the last room

of the exhibition in Venice

had this enormous map

and showing where Tintoretto's

paintings are located

all around Venice.

The visitors could also take

this map with them when they

left.

And Frederick and I,

and another young scholar,

also edited a new guide

to Tintoretto's paintings that

are still on public view

in Venice.

So in some ways, the exhibition

in Venice

was less of a challenge

because we could put

the highlights together.

But the exhibition just opened

out

into this city-wide celebration

that spread all over the city.

We were very fortunate

in putting together this

exhibition in being able

to partner with major Venetian

institutions, the civic museums,

the Gallerie

dell'Accademia, which is

the national museum,

the church--

the Scuola Grande di San Rocco,

the site of his two

major cycles, as Frederick

referred to it, the Tintoretto's

kind of Sistine Chapel,

the Curia, the churches

of Venice.

And so we were able to get

major loans from Venice,

and this was really

critical to the success

of our exhibition.

We also have

this wonderful exhibition space

here in the Gallery that

actually can accommodate larger

paintings than we were

able to accommodate in Venice.

So here you see a great painting

from the Accademia.

It is 17 feet long, so almost as

big as the image you see here.

This was actually too big to fit

into the exhibition space

in the Doge's Palace in Venice.

The registrar there tried

to figure out how to get it

around some of the corners,

and in through some

of the doors, and it was not

possible.

But we were able, thanks

to the generosity

of the Accademia,

and to the size

of the exhibition space here,

to bring it in to the National

Gallery.

It actually couldn't come

in-- it was so big.

It's the biggest painting

in the exhibition,

so big that it couldn't come

in through the normal way

of ingress into the Gallery.

The Gallery had to rent a crane

to bring it in.

But we are so glad to have it

here.

We also have

major prestigious loans

from the great museums

of the world.

So we have paintings

from the National Gallery

in London, like this.

We have paintings

from the Louvre,

from the Prado in Madrid,

from the Kunsthistorisches

Institute in Vienna, on, and on,

and on, Berlin, Dresden, the Met

in New York.

And this is a group of the--

kind of core group

of the iconic paintings

of Tintoretto

that provides the basis

of the exhibition.

But we also wanted to bring

in some things that are less

well-known.

Queen Elizabeth was kind enough

to lend us this picture

from her place in London.

This is a painting recently

restored, not well known,

and makes a great showing

for the first time

in a Tintoretto exhibition.

Now, I mentioned the Paradiso.

This was in the major council

hall of the Doge's Palace

in Venice.

It's the largest room there.

It was probably the most

prestigious commission

of Tintoretto's career,

and one that he had angled

to get for decades.

It's the final painting--

is sometimes called the largest,

old-master oil painting

in the world.

It's 72 feet wide.

Obviously, that was not coming.

But we were able to get

this wonderful loan, one

of the most important loans

for the exhibition,

from the Museo

Thyssen-Bornemisza

in Madrid, which is Tintoretto's

design, his model,

for the competition

for the final painting.

And it's a good-sized painting

itself.

It's the second largest one

in the exhibition at 17 feet

wide.

And actually, this painting,

this model has an advantage

over the final painting

because by the time

Tintoretto got that commission,

he sketched, outlined,

the Paradiso.

He had it brought to the Doge's

Palace, put up on the wall,

but he was-- at 70 years old,

he was too frail really

to get up on the scaffolding

and finish it himself.

So he turned it over to Domenico

and other studio members.

So what we see in Venice

was actually completed by studio

assistants.

What we have here in Washington

is

a beautiful, autograph painting

by Tintoretto that shows

his incredible skill

at depicting the human body

in all kinds of positions,

filled with energy and dynamism.

Now, exhibitions are not just

about a treat

for the eyes and education.

A major goal of an exhibition

is to try to move scholarship

forward.

And one of the most important

ways of doing that

is by bringing together

paintings that had never been

seen before.

And Frederick and I,

in this exhibition,

were particularly

interested in bringing

his portraits together in one

room.

Here you see the portrait hall

in Venice,

but we have a similar one here

in Washington.

Tintoretto's portraiture, even

among Tintoretto scholars,

has been considered kind

of second tier,

secondary to his major identity

as a narrative painter.

And, in fact, as a portrait

painter,

he's almost the opposite of what

he is as a narrative painter.

His narrative paintings are

expansive, overflowing, filled

with energy.

His portraits tend to be

somber, self-contained, kind

of minimalist,

but with this intense focus

on the face of the sitter,

and particularly on the eyes.

And that gives the painting--

there's nothing to distract

from that gaze,

the look of the face.

It gives them

a wonderful immediacy, a sense

that you're seeing

this individual.

You're locking eyes with him

at a particular moment in time.

And we think that the collection

of Tintoretto's best portraits

that we've put together

for the show really demonstrate

that he was one of the finest

portrait painters

of the Renaissance,

equal perhaps to Titian

and Bronzino,

great 16th-century painters.

But also, the best comparisons

may be to 17th-century painters

like Rembrandt and Velquez.

And it's striking how much

Tintoretto anticipates

the characteristics that make

their paintings great.

Now, the Portrait Gallery also

gave us an opportunity to test

a new attribution.

Frederick identified

this painting when it was coming

up for auction a few years ago

under the name

of another artist, an earlier

16th-century artist.

He said, no, that is a painting

by the young Tintoretto.

And, in fact, including it

in the exhibition,

comparing it to other works

by Tintoretto,

I hope that you'll feel as we do

that that new attribution was

absolutely justified.

They're so similar in style

and look, they might almost

be the same sitter a couple

of decades apart.

Now, another set

of juxtapositions we show

in the exhibition

is drawings to the paintings

that they were preparatory for.

So here you see Tintoretto's

painting of Saint George

and the Dragon and the drawing

that's for the dead victim lying

there in the middle ground.

And the drawing was squared

for transfer, a square grid,

against which the body is

outlined.

A similar grid was put

onto the canvas,

and then the figure was

transferred onto the canvas.

This painting is particularly

interesting in its relationship

to the drawing,

because infrared reflectography

that allows us to look

beneath the surface

of the drawing

shows there, in the area that's

been encircled,

that the victim was originally

much larger and much closer

to the picture plane,

but Tintoretto decided not

to put the victim there.

He painted it over

with the landscape, and then he

moved the victim back further

into the painting.

So it was at that point,

after he had already begun

the canvas

and was actually painting,

that then he moves off

of the canvas.

He decides he's going to put

a new figure in there,

the victim

in a different position,

so he does a drawing, which

is then transferred via squaring

to the canvas.

And this shows how Tintoretto

used drawing, how important it

was at every stage

of the painting,

not just at the beginning,

but throughout the process

as he worked out--

worked up his compositions,

based

on the dynamic relationship of

figures to one

another, the energies that moved

between them.

Now, as I mentioned,

we've been planning

with the National Gallery

for this exhibition for almost

five years now.

And one advantage

of long lead time like this

is that we could identify

many paintings by Tintoretto

that needed conservation

treatment to enable them

to travel safely,

also to restore them

to their original appearance,

or at least as closely as

possible

to their original appearance.

And particularly,

the American non-profit, Save

Venice,

took on many

of these restorations.

They funded the conservation

of 19 paintings

by Tintoretto in Venice,

of which 5 are in the exhibition

here in Washington.

Others were in the exhibition

in Venice, and the rest,

conserved, have now gone back

to their homes in Venice.

The painting that you see here

is in a kind of mini exhibition

here at the gallery.

It's down the far end

of the corridor in Lobby B. It

was actually too big to fit

comfortably into the exhibition

space.

So it's from the Church of San

Marziale, which was Tintoretto's

parish church.

It's the altar piece there.

Here you see it being taken down

from the altar.

You can see how dull and dark

the surface is.

Here you see it in the process

of cleaning,

as this yellow varnish was being

taken off, revealing the colors

underneath.

And in the process

of this cleaning,

the conservators discovered

that the varnish was not just

old and yellow.

This painting at last been

cleaned in the 1950s.

But actually, the varnish

had been deliberately darkened

with the addition

of yellow pigment and carbon

dust, black dust,

in part to give it this kind

of traditional, old-master

golden glow,

and also to cover some areas,

problematic areas where there'd

been over-painting and damage.

So here you see the painting

after conservation.

This is a painting that, I

confess,

Frederick and I before treatment

considered a fairly routine

example, not something that we

probably would initially have

wanted to include in the show.

But the treatment really reveals

it as a major masterpiece, just

filled with light and color.

And I'm sure you'll appreciate

it as you go see it there

in Lobby B.

Now, it was also very

important to us

to include something

from the Scuola Grande di San

Rocco, the site

that Tintoretto devoted 25 years

of his life to decorating,

the site of some of his greatest

works

and achievement that is really

unmatched

by any other artist in Venice

up to that time--

his Sistine Chapel, as we call

it.

And the Scuola Grande di San

Rocco, we have some members

of its direction

who are here today--

and we are infinitely

grateful to them

for lending these two

beautiful paintings from San

Rocco

to be a part of the exhibition.

These are very-- they're

unique paintings for Tintoretto,

because their landscapes,

the vehicle for expression

and meaning, is not the figure.

The figures here are very

small--

but the landscape itself.

And they're also unusual

for Tintoretto because he's

the great painter of bodies

in action.

In fact, this brings

to a conclusion

a cycle on the life

of the Virgin Mary,

and very near it is a scene

of the Massacre

of the Innocents.

That's one of the most violent,

dynamic paintings

that Tintoretto executed.

This painting is very

quiet and meditative.

The landscape is painted

with a very simple,

understated technique.

We essentially see only

the highlights of the forms

as light plays over them.

It's as though he's painting

with light.

And that light seems

to represent that kind

of divine grace, divine energy,

that's flowing

over the landscape,

infusing the world with divinity

and the miraculous.

The two figures we see here

are probably both the Virgin

Mary, seen from different angles

sitting in this landscape.

And the message to the viewer

is, just as the Virgin is here

reading the Scriptures

and meditating on the events

of her life

and the life of Christ,

so the viewer should meditate

on the scenes that have come

before, depicting

the life of the Virgin

and the life of Christ,

and meditate, contemplate,

their meaning and the meaning

of the mysteries of life,

and death, and faith.

We end the exhibition

with the great, late

self-portrait from the Louvre,

just as we began it

with the youthful self-portrait.

And as Frederick has pointed

out, we moved from the very

assertive, youthful,

aggressive painter

to the resigned old man who

is facing the end of his life.

He's not looking outward.

You have the feeling he's

looking inward

or beyond the viewer.

This is a very moving image.

It has a valedictory quality,

a sense of leave-taking

and ending.

But as Frederick told you,

this really isn't the end

of the story.

He lived for another six years.

He continued to run

the busy workshop.

He continued to devise

compositions,

to paint occasionally, to create

additional masterpieces.

He didn't relinquish control

of the workshop until a few days

before he died at 75 in 1594.

And, of course, the story

continues over the centuries,

as artists and visitors

to Venice up to the present day

have responded to his art

with a sense of revelation,

of awe, of amazement.

So we hope with this exhibition

that we've succeeded in bringing

you a sense of discovery

of an artist who,

500 years after his birth,

continues to astonish.

Thank you.

[APPLAUSE]

The Description of Introduction to the Exhibition—Tintoretto: Artist of Renaissance Venice