PRINT January 2007



TINTORETTO was born in Venice in 1519, making him a member of the first generation to take for granted something that can be called an art world. People had started dropping the names of artists—like Raphael, or Michelangelo, or Dürer—who were famous and awesome figures understood to be contending with one another in a common field. Paintings now typically came packaged with references to other works of art, and buyers had developed the skills to read them that way. Moreover, the innovations of Leonardo and Giorgione had brought about a fundamental change in the status of the picture. The fifteenth-century obsession with transparency was over; the pictorial field had acquired a new density and opacity. The settings—dense atmospheres, dark shadows, lush landscapes, even interiors—now behaved like a ground from which figures emerged, which is to say they recapitulated, again and again, the

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