Artibus et Historiae no. 77 (XXXIX)2018, ISSN 0391-9064
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SHIGETOSHI OSANO - The Newly Discovered Portrait of Ito Mansio by Domenico Tintoretto: Further Insight into the Mystery of its Making (pp. 145–160)
Recent studies on the newly discovered portrait of Ito Mansio have argued that the painting was originally intended for a commemorative group portrait of the four boys of the Japanese embassy to the Holy See in 1585. As a result, it was noticeably modified during the final stage of production to render it more marketable. Yet, the group portrait is believed to have remained unfinished. Daniello Bartoli’s History of the Jesuits reports that in addition to the portrait of Ito Mansio, only preparatory sketches for the portraits of the other boys were executed.
A search for these sketches in the hope that they might have somehow survived led us to recognize a remarkable resemblance between the portrait of Ito Mansio and the Portrait of a Gentleman by Domenico Tintoretto at the Blanton Museum of Art. In fact the digital images of both portraits match almost perfectly when laid on top of each other in a computer-generated graphic. A close examination of the X-ray photograph mosaic of the Portrait of a Gentleman also led us to speculate that Domenico Tintoretto most likely made an initial underdrawing of Ito Mansio’s portrait, from life, directly on the canvas of the Blanton Museum painting. This is consistent with the description given by Carlo Ridolfi in 1642 and 1648 in his Life of Jacopo Robusti Called Tintoretto.