Monday, March 14, 2011

Marietta Robusti (Tintoretta): Vitreous Painting on Glass

Marietta Robusti (Tintoretta), Vitreous Painting on glass, 8 x 10"

A few weeks ago when I painted Sofonibsa, I had confused Sofonibsa's biography with Marietta's. When I painted Sofonibsa, I thought I was painting Tintoretto's daughter. According to the colloquial text on women artists by the Guerilla Girls, Marietta Robusti, Tintoretto's daughter died giving childbirth at the age of 30, had worked in her father's studio, and after her death his studio floundered.

Having studied in Venice as a young artist, one summer, I became well acquainted with Tintoretto and have lauded his painting as my favorite among those of the Venetian Renaissance. His work I have stated numerous times in the past has influenced my own work. Now finding his daughter worked in his studio and that his studio floundered after her death, it makes me question how many of his works were done by her hand. And it makes me wonder, the aesthetics of what resonates for me in those paintings were done by Tintorett'a', not Tintorett'o'.

Biography- Marietta Robusti, 1554-1590

Marietta Robusti Tintoretto, also known as La Tinotoretta, from Venice was apprenticed to her father, the painter Jacobo Rubusti, known as Tintoretto. She was also a musician. Marietta Robusti was known as La Tintoretta, a play on her father's name. She died at 30 in childbirth.

Marietta Robusti Tintoretto (also known as La Tintoretto) was born in 1560 in Venice. Her father was a famous Venetian artist who ran the Tintoretto studios. Marietta was the favorite of seven children. Her father was very attached to her and took her everywhere with him. To ensure that she received a proper artistic education Jacopo Tintoretto dressed young Marietta in boys clothing so that she would be allowed access into her father's work area. Jacopo trained his daughter in his own artistic style. By the time she was a teenager their respective works were almost indistinguishable from each other. Marietta was also a trained singer and harpsichord player, having been privately tutored by Neapolitan Giulio Zacchino. She often played and sang for her father while he worked.
By the 1580's Marietta's portraits were in high demand. She was propositioned by Emperor Maximilian, Phillip II of Spain and Archduke Ferdinand to paint for their courts. Had she accepted their offers Marietta would have become quite famous, and would most likely be known by the greater population in this day and time. But, her father insisted that she stayed home with him, to work in his studio, and remain by his side. Since women were allowed little social freedom in the 1500's Marietta had little choice but to concede to her father's demands.
Marietta, though painting in her father's studio for 15 years, regardless of her immense popularity and numerous commissions, was subject to the whims of her father, who refused to part with her, and was never allowed to expand her career as an artist. Jacopo relied so deeply on his daughter that he did not even permit her to marry until she was nearly thirty years old.
In 1590 Marietta married Jacopo d' Augusta, a jeweler, who agreed to not to move Marietta from her father's home. Four years later Marietta died during child birth. Her father never recovered from her loss.
There are only two surviving works by Marietta. One is Portrait of an Old Man With Boy, which until 1920 had been attributed to her father. The other, more controversial work, is Portrait of a woman with a little dog, which until recently had been attributed to El Greco. Considering how popular the works of Marietta were at the time of their creation, and the shear number of commissions she received it is entirely likely that most of her paintings have been attributed to either her father or other male painters of the day.
Unfortunately, miss attribution of works by women was a common phenomenon. Since women received little in the way of recognition or compensation for their work even the most talented of them often vanished into obscurity. Their lives and achievements were quickly forgotten by their male counterparts in the art world. Often women faced discrimination by other artists, and their work received little in the way of praise merely because of their sex. Because of this there are many women artists who we know virtually nothing about. Except for the most bare boned facts about their existence there are no records or writings to tell us of their contributions. Most of their works have not survived the passage of time or have been credited to other artists.
For more information on Marietta Robusti, see link:
See the archive of my Uomini Famosi/ Vitreous paintings on glass at:

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