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Friday, May 29, 2009

Scuola Grande di San Rocco

Jacopo Robusti known as Jacopo Tintoretto (b. 1518, Venezia, d. 1594, Venezia)
The Apotheosis of St Roch
1564
Oil on canvas, 240 x 360 cm
Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice




Jacopo Robusti known as Jacopo Tintoretto (b. 1518, Venezia, d. 1594, Venezia)
Crucifixion
1565
Oil on canvas, 536 x 1224 cm
Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice





In early June 1564, one of the rich and powerful charities of Venice, the Scuola San Rocco, was determined to make a splash by commissioning the finest decorations for its magnificent headquarters.

Accordingly, a competition was announced for the oval canvas at the centre of the ceiling of the albergo, the room where the Board met.

As was customary, the finalists (Tintoretto, Salviati, Zuccaro and Veronese) were asked to come to the albergo with drawings of their proposed entries, which the assembled Board would judge.

The four competitors appeared with their drawings, except for Tintoretto, who, when asked for his design, had the cardboard covering the ceiling removed to reveal his finished painting, “St Roch in Glory”, in situ.

Thanks to an accomplice on the Board, he had been able to install it secretly a few days earlier.

To complete his triumph, he offered the picture to the confraternity as a donation, which they were bound to accept (though twenty of fifty-one Board members still voted against it – another reflection of the factions that swirled through the city).

The consequences of this episode dazzle us to this day: the vast array of Tintorettos throughout the Scuola, of which he became a member, and particularly the enormous “Crucifixion” in the albergo, which Ruskin and others have considered the finest painting ever made.