Trafugamento del corpo di san Marco

The Removal of the Body of Saint Mark

Jacopo Robusti detto Jacopo Tintoretto

Jacopo Robusti detto Jacopo Tintoretto
Venezia, 1519 - 1594
The Removal of the Body of Saint Mark
Canvas, 397 x 315 cm
Sansovino Room in the Biblioteca Marciana, 1920
Hall XI

The work was commissioned by the Guardian Grande of the Scuola Grande di San Marco, Tommaso Rangone, and was painted by Tintoretto between 1562 and 1566. It remained in the chapter hall until the Scuola was disbanded in 1807 and was then moved to the Libreria Sansoviniana (now commonly known as the Biblioteca Marciana) where the left hand side was cropped to fit its new location, thus removing a part of the figure of the man lying down who is trying to grab the mantle of one of the fleeing men. Thick overpainting had hidden the pyre in the background with an extension of the arcade structure, adding to the confusion over the subject matter, which is sometimes described as “the abduction of the body of Saint Mark”. In fact, it recounts the moment when the Evangelist’s disciples save his body from being burned, thanks to a sudden miraculous hailstorm which sends his persecutors fleeing. The roiling red sky is heavy with stormclouds and the artist suggests flashes of lightning with swift brushstrokes. Foreshortening is used to magnificent effect to depict a large square, resembling Piazza San Marco, where the arcades, with the onlookers and persecutors taking shelter, bear a striking resemblance to those of Sansovino.