Ascension by Tintoretto, 16th century, depicts Christ ascending to Heaven. He is scantily clothed by the traditional red robe seen in many contemporary works. His head is encompassed with a heavenly halo and angels hover on either side seemingly paying homage unto him. Two of the angels carry decorative wreaths. Below a woman sits apparently playing a pipe organ while a few unidentifiable onlookers, perhaps Joseph and Mary, watch in awe. As in his 1594 painting of the Last Supper, Tintoretto surrounds the Ascension with darkness.
Born Jacopo Comin, Tintoretto (1518-1594) was a nickname whose origin stems from his father, Giovanni’s trade, that of a dyer or tintore (little dyer, or dyer’s boy) in Italian. Tintoretto was a Venetian painter and a notable example of the Renaissance school. He was termed Il Furioso for his phenomenal energy in painting. 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.
Jacopo Comin was born in Venice the eldest of 21 children. The family originated from Brescia, Lombardy then part of the Republic of Venice. In childhood, Jacopo, began painting on his father’s walls. Recognizing his son’s potential, his father took him to the studio of Titian around 1533, when the renown artist, Titian, was already fifty-six years of age. Tintoretto had only been ten days in the studio when Titian sent him home, the great master having observed some of Tintoretto’s very spirited drawings. It is inferred that Titian became jealous of so promising an artist, or perhaps that the drawings exhibited so much independence of style that Titian judged the young Jacopo would never become a proper pupil. From that time forward the two always remained distant and never friends, and although Tintoretto remained a professed and ardent admirer of Titian, the master and his devotees turning a cold shoulder to him.
Tintoretto lived poorly and sought no further teaching, but studied enthusiastically on his own account. He became an expert in the modeling in wax and clay method practiced by Titian. His noble conception of art and his high personal ambition were evidenced in the inscription which he placed over his studio, “Michelangelo’s design and Titian’s color.”