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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Portrait of Gabriele di Pietro Emo, Procurator of San Marco

Photo: Paul Macapia

Portrait of Gabriele di Pietro Emo, Procurator of San Marco

inscribed and dated 1572

Jacopo Tintoretto

Italian (Venice), 1518-1594

One of the leading artists in late 16th-century Venice, Tintoretto was often called on to paint this type of official portrait for members of the Venetian ruling class. The red velvet robe trimmed with ermine identifies the sitter as a procurator, a highly prestigious civic position, and the inscription tells us that he was also governor of the city of Brescia. His open hands signal receptiveness and transparency, admirable traits for a man of power. But the real sense of character and intelligence is in his face, as he gazes steadily at the viewer. As Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci advised, “A good painter is to paint two main things, men and the working of man’s mind.”
Oil on canvas
45 7/8 x 35 3/4 in. (116.52 x 90.81 cm)
Samuel H. Kress Collection
Provenance: Rt. Hon. George August Frederick Cavendish Bentinck (1821-1891), London, by 1876 (exhibited Old Masters, Royal Academy, London, 1876, no. 127 as Venetian Naval Officer by Tintoretto); [Cavendish Bentinck sale, Christie’s, London, July 11, 1891, no. 618, as Portrait of Gabriel Erno (sic) by Tintoretto, probably bought in]; Arthur James, London (exhibited Venetian Art, New Gallery, London, 1894-95); by inheritence to his wife, Mrs. Arthur James (nee Mary Venetia Cavendish-Bentinck, d. 1948), London and Warwicksire, to 1948; [Mrs. Arthur James sale, Christie’s London, Oct. 15, 1948, no. 113, as Tintoretto]; purchased from Christie's by Nicholls; [Count Alessandro Contini Bonacossi (1878-1955), Rome-Florence; purchased from Contini Bonacossi by Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York, July 1,1950 (exhibited Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1950-1952 or 1953); Seattle Art Museum, since 1954, accessioned 1961
Photo: Paul Macapia
Now on view at the Seattle Art Museum


Exhibition HistoryLondon, U.K., Royal Academy, Old Masters, 1876. Cat. no. 127 ( as Venetian Naval Officer).

London, U.K., New Gallery, Venetian Art, 1894-1895.

Philadelphia, Pa., Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1950-1952 or 1953.

Seattle, Wash., Seattle Museum of Art, Italian Art: Samuel H. Kress Collection, 1952. Text by William Suida and Sherman Lee.

Published ReferencesBerenson, Bernard. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press; London, England, and Edinburgh and Glasgow, Scotland: H. Milford, 1932; p. 560.

Berenson, Bernard. Pitture Italiane del Rinaschimento. Milan, Italy: Ulrico Hoepli, 1936; p. 482.

Suida, William. Philadelphia Museum of Art Bulletin 96 (Autumn 1950): no. 11, reproduced p. 15.

Suida, William and Richard Fuller. European Paintings and Sculpture from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. Seattle, Wash.: Seattle Art Museum, 1954; p. 50, reproduced fig. 51.

Berenson, Bernard. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance, Venetian School Volume One. London, England: Phaidon Press, 1957; p. 178 (as Tintoretto).

Emerson, Guy. "The Kress Collection, a Gift to the Nation." National Geographic 120, no. 6 (Dec. 1961): p. 844.

Engagement Book. Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 1962.

Davis, James C. Pursuit of Power: Venetian Ambassadors' Reports on Spain, Turkey, and France in the Age of Philip II, 1560-1600. New York, Evanston, and London: Torchbook Library Edition, Harper & Row, 1970; fig. 5, p. 13 (as Tintoretto).

De Vecchi, Pierluigi. L'opera completa del Tintoretto. Milan, Italy: Rizzoli, 1970. Cat. no. 195 (as "usually attributed to Tintoretto").

Shapley, Fern Rusk. Paintings From The Samuel H. Kress Collection: Italian Schools XVI-XVIII Century. London, England: Phaidon Press for the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, 1973; no. K1801, p. 56, fig. 96.

Ishikawa, Chiyo. The Samuel H. Kress Collection at the Seattle Art Museum. Seattle, Wash.: Seattle Art Museum, 1997; pp. 70-71, fig. 45, reproduced p. 6.

Perry, Marily. Studying and Conserving Paintings: Occasional papers on the Samuel H. Kress Collection. London, England and New York: The Conservation Center of the Institute of fine Arts, New York University, 2006; p. 218.

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