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Portrait of a Man in Blue with a HandkerchiefEnlarge image

Portrait of a Man in Blue with a Handkerchief, c. 1575-1600

Jacopo Tintoretto, Circle of
Italian, 1518 - 1594
oil on canvas
107.2 x 89.4 cm
Purchased 1926
National Gallery of Canada (no. 3453)

The figure's enigmatic gesture - pointing to something outside the picture - engages our attention. He is perhaps a merchant; the handkerchief he holds was a fashionable prop, borrowed from portraits of the elite. The artist drew on Tintoretto's work, both celebrated and condemned for its quick execution. The description is brief, yet form is convincingly rendered. Careful finish is rejected and we are aware of how the work was painted - and so can admire the artist's ability to suggest rather than show. Jacopo Tintoretto's son Domenico (1560-1635), who would inherit the family workshop, and Palma Giovane (c. 1548-1628), who emulated the master's style, have both been proposed as the painter.

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