Aretino in the Studio of Tintoretto (c.1822). Pierre-Nolasque Bergeret (French, 1782-1863). Oil on canvas.
The source for the picture’s subject is Carlo Ridolfi’s book, Le Maraviglie dell’arte (1648). Aretino had spoken badly of Tintoretto. When they met one day Tintoretto invited Aretino to his studio to have his portrait done. During the sitting the painter suddenly pulled out a dagger from his robe. The surprised Aretino believed he was seeking revenge, and cried out and asked what he wanted. Tintoretto replied coldly, “Don’t move. I am taking your measurements.” Suitably intimidated by the incident, Aretino never again spoke badly of Tintoretto and they ultimately became friends. Bergeret’s picture depicting Tintoretto brandishing a pistol differs from the account due apparently to a translator’s confusion over the Italian word for dagger, “pistolese.”