TINTORETTO
(b. 1518, Venezia, d. 1594, Venezia)

The Descent into Hell

1568
Oil on canvas, 342 x 373 cm
San Cassiano, Venice

This monumental composition is constructed on two diagonally intersecting axes of movement: Christ is flying down above left, while Adam and Eve approach him below right. In the other diagonal two angels - probably Satan below left and Michael above right - are storming into the outermost corners of an overpopulated Limbo. The governing board of the Scuola del Sacramento of San Cassiano, who had commissioned the picture, anticipated their own redemption by having themselves depicted as the righteous of the Old Testament, directly behind the liberated figures of Adam and Eve, thus obtaining a good view of the naked Eve. This radiant figure, which Tintoretto prepared from a female nude in one of his very rare drawings, had to be hidden later by little clouds.




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