Blog parades are sometimes wonderful playgrounds and always a welcome impulse. When Sabine from Infopoint Museen & Schlösser in Bayern and Münchner Kaiserburg knocked on my door for the blog parade, I was blocked for a short time. The one museum piece that fascinated me? One? In my mind, I went through all the museums with which I have a close relationship. Where is there one work that I would prefer to all the others here? A pearl that I want to highlight and put in the light of the blog parade. All of a sudden, an image pushed itself into my mind. I hesitated to commit myself. It would then be so manifested. And I constantly encounter new and incredibly exciting works. But again this one stood before my eyes. So I gave in. Here you go – here is my museum pearl.
His penetrating gaze struck me as soon as I entered the room in which he hung for the first time. Oh, the Tintoretto, I thought. How Venetian it comes along. This warm colourfulness has always fascinated me about the pictures from the Serenissima. And now here this portrait in the Heylshof. Sure, I knew what a fabulous collection my husband’s ancestor had brought together in Worms. During my first visit to Heylshof I was constantly reminded of the Wallraf. The museum whose collection I had inhaled during my studies. No wonder, because both collections come from the same spirit of bourgeois art enjoyment. And Sophie von Heyl, the wife of the happy collector, is a born von Stein – a family of bankers from Cologne. But back to my museum pearl.
The dyer boy. The name is cute and doesn’t seem to suit the great master at all. And certainly not to the serious-looking gentleman in the portrait in Heylshof, which must have been painted around 1580. Jacopo Robusti fits in better. The painter, who was born in Venice in 1518, also received his honorary name from his father Giovan Batista Comin, who was a textile dyer. So next year is his 500th birthday and I’m already looking forward to the exhibition at Wallraf. My last stand is that then my Museumsperle can also travel to Cologne.
Tintoretto learned as a young man in Titian’s workshop and you can see that. Later he travelled to Rome and studied Michelangelo. He himself once said that he combined Titian’s colour and Michelangelo’s drawing in his work. Above the entrance of his workshop he is said to have immortalized the saying “Il disegno di Michelangelo ed il colorito di Tiziano”. However, his apprenticeship with Titian lasted only a short time and it quickly became clear that Jacopo Robusti was someone who was embarking on a new era. You don’t necessarily see that in his portraits – here he follows the painter of Venetian society, as Titian is unsurpassed. But Tintoretto will become famous as a master of Mannerism.
The man in the picture looks me straight in the eye. If I move a little to the left or right, he looks at me. I swear it is so. I entered “Tintoretto portraits” in the Google image search. And then clicked me very fast through the results. That’s fascinating, because you suddenly notice how all these portrayed people look at you. All eyes are on the viewer.
And suddenly a shiver comes over you. Someone from a different time looks at me. I don’t even know who he is. He looks skeptical. With a slight melancholy. Typically Serenissima. Or is he perhaps not from Venice at all? The red velvet curtain in the background is Titian red. Otherwise there are no hints, attributes. Only the pure look with the slightly raised eyebrows. His clothes? Black. Without pomp. Who wore such caps? Is there a white fur flashing from the coat?
I like those secrets. That’s why I decided to study art history back then. Because it’s sometimes as exciting as a thriller. The detective work of the experts, who bring stories from past centuries to light, still fascinates me today.
The longer I look at the man, the more I think I learn about him. Perhaps he was a spiritual dignitary? In any case, someone with a lot of life experience. He carries a certain wisdom within him. But life also makes him look into the world with a certain scepticism. Perhaps he is someone who condemns any display of wealth and status? Titian also loved this certain understatement in his portraits. And certainly it was a theme in Venice, where the splendour was at home. The excessive lives of the Doges and their followers have been described often enough.
That’s what makes museum pearls so special. From my point of view, these are images that can trigger more than just the enjoyment of art. They are works of art that you want to visit again and again. Like an old acquaintance. Because each time you bring a different mood with you. Then you discover something new again. It’s fun to look at the work from a different perspective. Or to approach with further information.
In this sense, I am now absolutely satisfied with the choice of the Tintoretto for #pearl fishing. I’m already looking forward to visiting it again soon. Maybe you will visit him sometime? Then greet him nicely from me.