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


after 1588
Oil on canvas
Palazzo Ducale, Venice

Major fires in the Doge's Palace in 1574 and 1577 necessitated the wholesale renovation of its pictorial decoration, and artists received explicit instructions about subject and even composition, the idea being to emulate the visual authority of the destroyed works as closely as possible. Tintoretto painted several large ceiling panels for the elaborate program, which emphasized Venice's military achievements, celebrated the city's unique form of government, touted civic freedom, and claimed Venice's parity with the papacy and the Holy Roman Empire.

Tintoretto's most important contribution to the enterprise was the replacement of Guariento's 1365 Coronation of the Virgin, located behind the dais on which the doge and leading patricians sat during meetings of the Great Council. It had been decided that the replacement would continue to centre around Christ and Mary, preserving the general paradisiacal theme of Guariento's composition. However, the focus of Tintoretto's Paradise composition was to be Christ rather than Mary, eliminating the flanking scenes of the Annunciation and setting Christ as the supreme authority, to whom Mary is subsidiary. The seething crowds of saints and angels purposefully suggest a Last Judgment, reminding Great Council members of the gravity and enduring significance of their deliberations and actions.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.