Tintoretto’s admiration for Veronica Franco

tintoretto - veronica francoTintoretto, aka “Il Furioso,” was born in Venice in1518; the eldest of 21 children. He was originally Christened Jacopo Comin. His father, Giovanni, was a dyer, or “tintore”; hence the son got the nickname of ‘Tintoretto‘, (little dyer, or dyer’s boy). Tintoretto, was an important Italian painter and a notable exponent of the Renaissance School.  His work is characterized by its muscular figures, dramatic gestures and bold use of perspective in the ‘Mannerist‘ style, while maintaining color and light typical of the ‘Venetian School‘. In 1594, he was seized with severe stomach pains, complicated by fever, which prevented him from sleeping and almost from eating for a fortnight. He died on May 31, 1594.

The above portrait by Tintoretto is of Veronica Franco  (1546-1591); a Renaissance Venetian “cortigiana onesta” (intellectual courtesan and poet).  In its day, the Venetian courtesans were among the most educated and liberated of European women.  The daughter of a former “cortigiana onesta“, Veronica was trained to use her natural assets and abilities and even had a brief liaison with Henry III, King of France. Apart from her fabled eroticism, Veronica was celebrated for her artistic and poetic talents.  The following is one of Veronica’s quotes:

“When we too are armed and trained, we can convince men that we have hands, feet, and a heart like yours; and although we may be delicate and soft, some men who are delicate are also strong; and others, coarse and harsh, are cowards. Women have not yet realized this, for if they should decide to do so, they would be able to fight you until death; and to prove that I speak the truth, amongst so many women, I will be the first to act, setting an example for them to follow.” —Veronica Franco

  • This painting is from the Austin S. And Sarah C Garver Fund, at the Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Massachusetts.

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