Fragonard, Alexandre-Evariste

Grasse 1780 - Paris 1850
Biography & List of works

Aretino in the Studio of Tintoretto

Aretino in the Studio of Tintoretto

Medium: Oil On Canvas

Size: 41 x 35.4 cm


Toulouse, Private Collection, 1992; New York, Private Collection.

One of the best-known literary figures of the sixteenth century, Pietro Aretino enjoyed his notoriety and gave himself the name “scourge of Princes.” He wrote satirical verses, drama, and numerous letters, and was patronized by Popes and important Italian Renaissance families, including the Medici and Gonzaga.  Aretino obscured the facts of his birth, pretended to be the son of a nobleman, and created his name from his native town of Arezzo. After he was forced to leave Rome, Aretino settled permanently in Venice where he became a friend of the artists Titian and Tintoretto. Aretino had spoken badly of Tintoretto. When they met one day Tintoretto invited Aretinoto his studio to have his portrait done. During the sitting the painter suddenly pulled out a dagger from his robe. The surprised Aretino believing Tintoretto was seeking revenge, cried out and asked the painter what he wanted. Tintoretto replied coldly, “Don’t move. I am taking your measurements.” Suitably intimidated by the incident, Aretinonever again spoke badly of Tintoretto and they ultimately became friends. Ingres has included the artist’s daughter in the background as a witness to the event. Essentially, however, the content of the three pictures is the same, including the depiction of Tintoretto brandishing a pistol rather than the dagger of the account, due apparently to the French translator’s confusion over the Italian word for dagger, “pistolese.”