Nascita di San Giovanni Battista (1550s)

Tintoretto, Jacopo (1518-1594)

Nascita di San Giovanni Battista (Birth of St John the Baptist)
Oil on canvas, 181 x 266 cm
Hermitage MuseumSaint Petersburg

Jacopo Tintoretto was the last great master of the Italian Renaissance. The majority of his works are still in Venice, in the so-called Scuolas, or buildings belonging to religious brotherhoods, for which the artist produced them, often working only in return for his keep. Just one work by his hand is now in the Hermitage. In the Gospel According to St Luke (1:7-22) we read how God punished the aging priest Zacharias with dumbness for lack of faith when promised that his elderly wife would bear him a son. He regained the gift of speech after he wrote down the predestined name of the newborn child, John. In Tintoretto‘s picture we see a combination of genre elements and an almost mystically tense mood. (SHM)