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

Portrait of Procurator Jacopo Soranzo

c. 1550
Oil on canvas, 106 x 90 cm
Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

This fine example of Tintoretto's portraits is a fragment of a larger work which contains other portraits and dates from not long after the other portrayal of Jacopo Soranzo in the possession of the Castello Sforzesco in Milan. No longer governed by precepts of Renaissance portraiture this painting exemplifies, an immeddiacy of interpretation and a penetrating understanding of the psychology of the sitter. In the portrait of Soranzo the brush strokes build up the features of the face with extraordinary precision, subtle effects of light evoking the leanness of the flesh, the burning eyes, the hair and beard of the subject. A sudden light forces Soranzo out of the shadow and he appears to be engaged in an intense conversation with the observer, revealing to him his innermost human and spiritual emotions. The rapid expressionistic way in which the character is conveyed is very different from the idealized dignity which Titian confers upon his powerful contemporaries in his portraits of them.

Soranzo was to die in the following year, but his shrewd, dignified old age is unclouded by dark forebodings.

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