Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice at the Louvre

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A major event at the Louvre: powerful canvases by the greatest Venetian painters of the sixteenth century are presented side by side in Napoleon Hall in an exhibition allowing visitors to observe the play of inspiration and admiration between these geniuses as well as the competitive nature of their artistic dialogue. Including eighty-five canvases, most of which have been loaned for the occasion by prestigious museums worldwide, the exhibition brings this noble rivalry into focus through juxtapositions of paintings treating the same or equivalent themes, thus demonstrating just how much these artists were influenced by one another or instead used their paintings as critiques or to put forward their own personal interpretations. Although Titian, named official painter to the Republic in 1516, dominated the Venetian art scene, the arrival of later generations—Bassano, Tintoretto, Veronese, Palma the Younger—and the influence of artistic developments in central Italy, resulted in novel treatments of subjects favored by Venetian artists in the second half of the sixteenth century.

“Because he had a formidable rival in Veronese, Tintoretto was especially creative and daring in his paintings, since in the face of such competition, any artist is inclined to make it a point of honor not to be outdone.”

These views expressed by Carlo Ridolfi in 1642 are certainly not limited to Tintoretto and Veronese. All major Venetian painters of this period modeled their approach to their art on those of their contemporaries, the preeminent figure among whom was, without any doubt, the uncontested and unequaled master Titian. Rivalry thus played a major role in shaping the development of Venetian painting...

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