About this artwork

Tintoretto's painting was made for the altar of the Dal Basso family chapel in the Venetian church of San Francesco della Vigna. Prints of the altarpiece record its original appearance before it was cut from its frame. It was taller and arched in shape, with a flying angel at the top holding a crown of thorns. The angel's feet are just visible at the top of the canvas. Below Christ's elongated body in the centre is that of his swooning grief-stricken mother. The painted flickering torch light heightens the mood of despair.

Updated before 2020

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Jacopo Robusti was nicknamed Tintoretto 'little dyer' after his father who was a cloth dyer. He became one of the most prolific artists in Venice, specialising in large-scale religious narrative scenes, altarpieces, mythological subjects and portraits. His striking compositions often defied convention through exaggerated perspective and bold foreshortening of figures, and his quick work was sometimes criticized for its lack of finish. He may have trained with Titian for a short time. Tintoretto ran his busy workshop as a family business employing two sons and a daughter.