Marietta Robusti was a painter of the Italian Renaissance born in Venice (probably in the year 1560). She was the eldest daughter of the famous painter Jacopo Robusti, better known as Tintoretto, for this reason she is sometimes referred to as Tintoretta.
Robustti lived in Venice all her life, her artistic training consisted in serving an apprenticeship in her father’s workshop, there she probably contributed to his paintings with backgrounds and figure blocking, as it was the usual distribution of the labour in painting workshops of that time.
The only known primary source for details of Marieta Robusti’s life and career is the book Life of Tintoretto by Carlo Ridolfi, this book was first published in 1642. She is also mentioned, very briefly, in Raffaelo Borghini’s Il Riposo della Pintura e della Scultura of 1584. The two sources disagree on the year of her birth: according to Borghini it was in 1555, and according to Carlo Ridolfi it was in 1560.
The conventions of the time dictated that women could learn art, but their works should remain in the privacy of the domestic sphere, they were not welcome in the public world of art sale. Robusti, as most of her female contemporaries gained access to the art world through the male artists of their family, often their fathers or brothers. This explains that her social and economic autonomy was not better than other women painter of her time, however she had quite a following, changing the ideals of femininity within the art world.
It is said that Robusti worked on altarpieces as an assistant during her apprenticeship in her father’s workshop, however her achievements were buried under the name of her father. After her death the decline in work by Tintoretto was ascribed to grief of his daughter, rather than the loss of who was probably one of his best and most skilful assistants. Yet she received no commissions for altarpieces or other major religious work according to some sources, being famous by her portraits.
- According to Carlo Ridolfi she was one of the most illustrious women of her time and as a very skilled artist.
- She is known by variously names: Marietta Robusti, Marietta Tintoretto and La Tintoretta.
- The name Tintoretta means “little dyer girl” as her father Tintoretto was a ‘tintore’, a dyer.
- After her death she became a muse for Romantic painters such as Léon Cogniet and Eleuterio Pagliano.
- Robusti was buried in Santa Maria del’Orto in Venice.