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Jacopo Robusti, called Jacopo Tintoretto (Venice 1518/19-1594)
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Jacopo Robusti, called Jacopo Tintoretto (Venice 1518/19-1594)

Portrait of a gentleman, three-quarter-length, in a black doublet and cape, holding a pair of gloves in his left hand, his right hand on a table

Details
Jacopo Robusti, called Jacopo Tintoretto (Venice 1518/19-1594)
Portrait of a gentleman, three-quarter-length, in a black doublet and cape, holding a pair of gloves in his left hand, his right hand on a table
signed and dated 'IAC·TENTORETO·F· / ·15·65·' (lower left)
oil on canvas, unframed
39 ¾ x 34 ½ in. (100.8 x 87.7 cm.)
indistinctly inscribed (upper left)
Provenance
Hohenzollern collection, Sigmaringen.
Charles Sedelmeyer, Paris.
Mr Fischof; Fischof-Blakeslee sale, New York, 9-10 March 1900, lot 108.
Anonymous sale [Collection of a Swiss Nobleman]; O. Bernet, H.H. Parke, A.N. Bade and H.E. Russell, Jr., New York, 22 January 1931, lot 72 ($10,000 to William French).
Fox Sal; Kende, New York, 1-2 December 1942, lot 43.
with Galleria Edmondo Sacerdoti, Milan.
Private collection, Switzerland.
Literature
P. Rossi, Jacopo Tintoretto: I Ritratti, Venice, 1973, pp. 114-115, fig. 129.
Special notice

These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale using a Temporary Import regime. Import VAT is payable (at 5%) on the Hammer price. VAT is also payable (at 20%) on the buyer’s Premium on a VAT inclusive basis. When a buyer of such a lot has registered an EU address but wishes to export the lot or complete the import into another EU country, he must advise Christie's immediately after the auction.

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Lucy Cox
Lucy Cox

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Lot Essay

In 1559, following an increasing number of official commissions, Tintoretto was appointed portraitist to the Republic of Venice, a position previously held by Titian. Over the course of the next four decades, he secured the patronage of the city’s officials as well as leading figures among the intelligentsia. He was admired for not only the quality of his work but also the speed of his execution. In a letter of 1548, Andrea Calmo praised Tintoretto’s ability to capture a likeness from nature in a mere half hour. Although the artist is better known now as a painter of large religious and mythological works, his ability as a portraitist won him great acclaim amongst his contemporaries, with Gian Paolo Lomazzo describing him as ‘ritrattista d’eterna fama’ (‘a portraitist of eternal fame’) (G.P. Lomazzo, Trattato dell’arte della pittura, Milan, 1584, p. 434).

This work is a characteristic example of Tintoretto’s portraiture, which typically featured a restrained colour palette and simplicity of pose and setting. The sitter is depicted three-quarter-length, standing against a dark neutral background. The man’s body, dressed in black, is almost indistinguishable from his surroundings. By contrast, his carefully modelled face is bathed in light. Characteristic specks of white are reflected in his eyes, adding an emotional intensity and sense of immediacy to his gaze. Tintoretto was concerned with the individualisation of the sitter and light was used as a tool to focus the viewer’s attention on the sitter’s face. However, as with many of the artist’s portraits, the sitter’s identity remains obscure. The simplicity of Tintoretto’s portraits, exemplified in this work, was radical at the time and was emulated by later artists such as Velázquez.

The present work once belonged to the imperial collection of the House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, the senior Swabian branch of the House of Hohenzollern. Swabia was annexed to the Kingdom of Prussia in 1850 and formed part of the newly-created Province of Hohenzollern. The family had a significant collection of art that was primarily built up by Prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, later Carol I of Romania (1839-1914). Carol’s interest in the arts derived from his friendship with the art historian Anton Springer (1825-1891), under whom he studied at Bonn University. It is possible that Carol acquired this painting in the second half of the 19th century.

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