By Anne Leader

Italian author, artist, and collector Carlo Ridolfi was born on 1 April 1594 in Lonigo, a city in the Veneto not far from Vicenza. Ridolfi trained as a painter in Venice between 1607 and 1612 and worked to emulate the style of an earlier generation of Venetian masters, namely Titian and Tintoretto. He was an avid collector of drawings, three volumes of which survive. He published La vita di Giacopo Robusti, detto il Tintoretto (The Life of Giacopo Robusti, called Tintoretto) in 1642, the same year in which the Venetian Republic named him a Knight of the Order of Saint Mark. Ridolfi’s biography remedies the criticisms of Venetian art launched a century before by painter-author Giorgio Vasari, and Ridolfi makes a strong case for Tintoretto to be seen alongside Titian as one of the pillars of sixteenth-century Venetian art. Just as Vasari had dedicated his biographies of the artists to Duke Cosimo I de’Medici, Ridolfi honored the ruling doge (Francesco Erizzo, d. 1646) and the Republic of Venice with his publication. He went on to write Le maraviglie dell’arte, which profiled 150 painters associated with Venice and her territories. The book may have been sponsored by the government, suggesting strong support for what was seen as a remedy to Vasari’s Vite, which were so heavily biased towards central Italian artists.

Reference: “Ridolfi, Carlo.“ Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press..

Giacomo Piccini, “Carolus Rodulphius” from  Le maraviglie dell’arte … di Carlo Rodolfi, Venezia 1648.

Carlo Ridolfi, Vita di Giacopo Robusti, 1642, illustrated book. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Purchased with income from the Jacob S. Rogers Fund

Bernardo Strozzi, Portrait of Doge Francesco Erizzo,1631. Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum

Carlo Ridolfi, Le maraviglie dell’arte, overo le Vite de gl’illustri pittori veneti, e dello Stato… Venice: G.B. Sgava, 1648

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