'The Flight into Egypt', after TintorettoArtist:
, Italian, 1854 - 1931
, Venetian, 1519 - 1594
Material and Medium: watercolour on paper
Dimensions: Mount: 610 x 457mm
Support: 371 x 258mm
Accession Number: CGSG00337
Tintoretto’s original work was commissioned as part of a cycle of biblical paintings by the Scuola Grande di San Rocco in Venice, a powerful religious and charitable organisation, to decorate their Lower Hall.
Ruskin hugely admired Tintoretto's paintings at the Scuola and wrote a critique of them in his 'Venetian Index' of 1852. In the 'Flight into Egypt', Ruskin particularly admired the head of the donkey, describing it as 'sublime', and also the head of the Virgin Mary. He wrote that Tintoretto 'seems to have intended that everything should be subordinate to the beauty of this single head.'
Interestingly Ruskin's comments to Alessandri on his finished copy also concern these two aspects. Ruskin asked him to paint a larger version of the donkey 'expressing more the grand brush execution of it', but said the 'Madonna is so absolutely like it makes me think I'm in San Rocco.'