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'It was Jacopo Tintoretto who made me an art historian', by Dr Michael Douglas-Scott

posted on 14/09/20


At school I was encouraged by my history teacher, Richard Woollett, to pursue my art historical interests at the National Gallery. But it was when my father took me to Venice at the age of eighteen that my love for the city blossomed, and especially for Tintoretto at the Scuola of San Rocco.

Since then I have made many journeys to Venice, at least one a year. My PhD thesis was on the church of the Madonna dell’Orto, where Tintoretto painted some of his most dramatic works and where he was buried in 1594. I went on to lecture on Venetian renaissance painting at Birkbeck College for twenty-five years. I have become a die-hard Venetianist, and have a daughter named after the city I have loved as the most beautiful in the world: Venetia.

Venice has been a tourist attraction for centuries, but I watched with consternation as Venice has changed over my daughter’s lifetime as the number of visitors soared. Covid-19 has meant that Venice, to the relief of many of its inhabitants and its devoted admirers, has been temporarily liberated from the press of crowds: its canals are filled with fish and the streets are free of pedestrian traffic blocking its narrow arteries.

Late October 2020 offers us a unique opportunity to contemplate its late Renaissance masterpieces undisturbed and in security. Titian was the old master of the great final flourishing of Venetian renaissance painting, Tintoretto its mercurial disruptor and Veronese the revivor of its colour-rich tradition. We visit all their major works in Venice and make a trip to the Villa Barbaro, one of Palladio’s most beautiful and serene country creations, which is entirely painted with mythological and allegorical frescoes by Veronese.

I will explore these three artists’ rivalries and mutual admiration and hostility, show how they were influenced by or reacted against each other, and how they were affected creatively by the events of their times – among which were terrible pandemics; Titian died during the plague of 1576.

Please join me!

Dr Michael Douglas-Scott

MRT lecturer


View itinerary for Tintoretto, Titian & Veronese

View tours with Dr Michael Douglas-Scott

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