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Jacopo Tintoretto

c. 1546/1548
oil on canvas
105.7 x 193 cm (41 5/8 x 76 in)
Casa Barbo a San Pantaleone, Venice, by 1648. [1] possibly private collection, southern France. [2] (Frederick Mont, Inc., New York), by 1956; sold February 1957 the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York; [3] gift 1961 to NGA. [1] In a 1648 publication, Carlo Ridolfi describes a decorative cycle of paintings by Tintoretto: “In casa Barba a San Pantaleone miransi nell’intavolato d’una stanza un capriccio de’ sogni, & alcuni Deità in un Cielo, con varie imagini delle cose apportate nel sonno alle menti de’ mortali, e le quattro staggioni in figura nel recinto” (" sees in the paneling [intavolato] of a room a capriccio of dreams and some divinities in the heavens, with various images of the things brought to the minds of mortals in their sleep, and the four Seasons personified in the surrounding area [‘nel recinto’]”). Three of the paintings depicting the personifications of the four Seasons are known: Spring (Chrysler Museum of Art, Norkolk), the NGA painting, and Autumn (private collection); Winter is unlocated. See: Ridolfi, Le maraviglie dell’arte, overo Le vite de gl’illustri pittori veneti, e dello Stato, 2 vols., Venice, 1648: 2:46; Ridolfi, Le maraviglie dell’arte, overo Le vite de gl’illustri pittori veneti, e dello Stato (Venice, 1648), edited by Detlev von Hadeln, 2 vols., Berlin, 1914-1924: 2(1924):55. Tintoretto may have begun the paintings at Casa Barbo around 1546 or 1547, and completed them in 1548. It was in 1548 that Faustino Barbo married, and because he was the designated heir to the palace, the occasion may have been the impetus for a restoration and decoration of the family house that was noted in Faustino's uncle's will of 1557. For details, and additional discussion of the Barbo family in residence at the Casa Barbo in the mid-16th century, see Stefania Mason, "Tintoretto the Venetian," in Tintoretto: Artist of Renaissance Venice, edited by Robert Echols and Frederick Ilchman, exh. cat., Palazzo Ducale, Venice; National Gallery of Art, Washington, New Haven, 2018: 36-61. [2] The central painting in the cycle described by Ridolfi, Allegory of the Dreams of Men (Detroit Institute of Art), as well as another of the surrounding personifications of the Seasons, Spring (see note 1), were both previously in a collection in southern France. The Detroit painting was acquired from this unknown collection by the dealers Mont and Newhouse in 1957, and the Norfolk painting was acquired by Walter Chrysler from Newhouse Galleries in 1958. Mont frequently worked with the Newhouse Galleries, so it is very possible the NGA painting shares this provenance. (Information provided by Robert Echols, email of 11 June 2010, in NGA curatorial files.) [3] Betty Mont wrote to Guy Emerson of the Kress Foundation on 5 November 1956 that they had "a splendid painting by Tintoretto" in their studio. The invoice from Frederick Mont & Company to the Kress Foundation, for four paintings including the Tintoretto (called "Allegorie of Summer"), is dated 14 February 1957; three payments for the group were completed in September of the same year. (Copies of the letter and invoice are in NGA curatorial files.)
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