(Venice 1560-1635)


Portrait of a Lady


Oil on canvas

19 ¼ x 15 ¼ inches

(49 x 40 cm)


Private Collection, California


Like many family-trained artists, Domenico Tintoretto began his career assisting his renowned father, Jacopo Tintoretto, in his Venice workshop.  In 1576, when Domenico was seventeen years old, he was admitted to the Venetian painters’ guild and by 1594 he had joined the Confraternity of Painters.  Among his first projects were working with his father in the Sala del Collegio and Sala del Senato in the Doge's Palace.  Domenico later received independent commissions at the palace, among which were the dramatic Battle of Salvore and the Second Conquest of Constantinople, as well as in Venetian churches: a Last Supper and Crucifixion for S. Andrea della Zirada a Marriage of the Virgin for S. Giorgio Maggiore (all in situ) and a Crucifixion for the Scuola dei Mercanti.

Domenico was an accomplished portrait painter and may be best known for such works.  Notable commissions included two large group portraits for the Scuola dei Mercanti in Venice, now in the Accademia Gallery, Venice, a Portrait of Galileo (National Maritime Museum, Greenwich) and portraits of Doges, including Marco Barbarigo and Giovanni Mocenigo (both Palazzo Ducale, Venice) and Marino Grimani (Cincinnati Museum of Art).  In 1592 Domenico went to Ferrara to paint a portrait of Margaret of Austria, later Queen of Spain, and in 1595 he traveled to Mantua to paint Duke Vincenzo I Gonzaga.  Distinguished portraits by Domenico are found in museum collections worldwide, their authorship often in the past confused with that of Jacopo.

Several bust-length portraits of women in elegant dress by Domenico, such as the present work, are known and there may have been a vogue for such images among the Venetian aristocracy.  These do not appear to be preliminary for full-length portraits, but rather finished works in their own right.  Similar portraits are found in the Museo del Prado, Madrid, at Schloss Wilhelmshöhe in Kassel, and at the Worcester Art Museum.  At times these have been said to depict courtesans, whether generic or specific (such as Veronica Franco), but in most cases it would seem that an ideal type for an elegant lady is being emulated.

Dr. Mauro Lucco (written communication, April 2012) has confirmed the attribution to Domenico Tintoretto.