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Lured by the light of Venice; SARAH MARSHALL explores the Italian city where Renaissance superstar artist Jacopo 'Tintoretto' Robusti spent his life.

EYES greedily fixed on leftovers from the night before, seagulls swoop along narrow, brick-walled canals, their wings casting monstrous shadows as dawn begins to break.

Reflected in the water, golden prows of gondolas look doubly resplendent and a gentle glow illuminates halos crowning marble saints bowing from church facades.

Along Fondamente Nove, two artists peer from behind their easels, working with swift brushstrokes to capture waves lapping wooden bricole and racing to beat the sun's syrupy ascent above gravestones on Poveglia, an island of the dead.

For centuries, writers and painters have been captivated by Venice.

A plaque that Tintoretto's house Grandiose art, elaborate architecture and seductive courtesans have all contributed to its allure. But above all, it's the light that makes this floating city so special - a quality shining just as brightly as it did during the Renaissance centuries ago.

Of all the grand masters who lived in this history-strewn labyrinth, only one can be called a true son of the city, starting and finishing his life in this network of 118 islands erected on wood pilings in the Adriatic Sea.

And with celebrations for the 500th anniversary of his birth starting this month and continuing into 2019, Jacopo "Tintoretto" Robusti is in the spotlight.

Not since 1937 has Venice hosted a solo exhibition on Tintoretto, and there have been only a handful of displays around the world, largely due to the challenge of transporting his expansive canvases, which measure up to 22 metres wide.

break 2018 Harrogate Market, visit the beautiful The son of a dyer, he grew up in an environment dominated by Titian, Raphael and Michelangelo. Muscular figures in oversized proportions float, fight and prostrate in his paintings - a style clearly inspired by Michelangelo's revered David.

Bursting with energy and movement, many of Tintoretto's works are snapshots, and his use of what would now be described as cinematic techniques - such as reflections and symmetry - prompted Jean-Paul Sartre to call him the "first film director of our time".

"This is an artist who invites you to jump inside the painting," enthuses Paola Marini, director of the Accademia Gallery, citing Miracle of the Slave, Tintoretto's breakthrough work and a highlight of the show, as the perfect example. "He was completely involved. No day of his life was spent without painting."

Another suspended moment is depicted in Tarquin and Lucretia, on display in the Doge's apartments usually closed to the public, where a string of pearls crashes to the floor in an act of rape.

Tintoretto 1519-1594 features many portraits, including a self-study showing the 77-year-old man with hollowed cheeks and heavy eyes, described by Manet as one of the most beautiful portraits in the world.

It also illustrates the artist's mastery of light and shade, a technique way ahead of its time.

The artist's works appear in more than 25 churches and confraternities here. The grandest of all can be found in the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, dubbed the Sistine Chapel of Venice thanks to its neck-craning ceiling of monumental biblical scenes.

Although guided by religion, Tintoretto was hugely inspired by his city. I'm keen to find where that magic exists today.

Venice is suffering from overtourism but away from the honeypots of St Mark's Square and Rialto Bridge, there are quiet canals, campos, and calles - most notably in the sestiere of Cannaregio, the humble district that was the artist's home. In recent years, bohemian bars and restaurants have opened along Fondamenta della Misericordia, which turns into an impromptu street party on a summer Saturday night. Ordering a glass of barolo and a plate of codfish and meatball cicchetti (the Venetian equivalent of tapas) from Vino Vero, I sit cross-legged along the canal and listen to chatter clipped and sliced by the distinctive razor-edged Venetian dialect. One of the most exciting additions to the area is Hotel Heureka, which opened in a renovated 16th century house in October 2017. Funded by an Austrian couple who fell in love with the city, it features just 10 rooms in a space that could easily host twice as many.

A blend of old-meets-new interiors is eclectic but seamlessly stylish all the same. Heavy brocade curtains drape windows as if they were a theatre stage, and flouncy Murano glass chandeliers twinkle above whimsical wall panels by Christian Lacroix. An act of architectural genius, one bedroom features a bathroom in a cube behind the bed, with shower, sinks and toilet separately occupying each wall.

The piece de resistance is a garden filled with sprawling olive trees and an ancient well - a rarity in Venice where green spaces are usually locked away. Close by, on Fondamenta dei Mori, a plaque recognises the house Tintoretto purchased in 1574, and a neighbouring stamperia rumoured to have once been his atelier.

Centuries ago, these windows would have opened onto the same view of tethered row boats and humped bridges. Some things in Venice never change.

Because beyond the wild brushstrokes decorating apses and altars, Tintoretto's inspiration still ripples through watery reflections and lingers in shadows cast by candyfloss sunsets.

Get lost and take a wrong turning. You'll probably find it there.

NEED TO KNOW | SARAH MARSHALL stayed at Hotel Heureka, which offers a Venice With Tintoretto package from PS660, including two nights in a Junior Suite with breakfast, two tickets for the Tintoretto exhibition at the Doge's Palace and two tickets to visit the Church of Madonna dell'Orto.

Available until December 21. Visit hotel-heureka.com The canals Cannaregio at sunset A plaque that commemorates Tintoretto's house in Cannaregio Nightlife along Fondamenta Misericordia

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Publication:Solihull News (Solihull, Birmingham, England)
Date:Oct 5, 2018
Words:933
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