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Venetian painting in this period was dominated by Titian (Tiziano) and three family workshops, active both locally and internationally: those of Jacopo Tintoretto, Paolo Veronese and Jacopo Bassano. Veronese was renowned for his harmonious and decorative colour and brilliant illusionistic effects. His paintings won Titian’s praise and he attracted many commissions from the Venetian state, including paintings for the Doge’s Palace.

By contrast, Tintoretto was initially criticised by his contemporaries for working too quickly which, they said, gave his paintings an unfinished look. But this technique enabled him to develop a dynamic style in which the rapid brushwork intensifies the dramatic impact of his daringly posed figures.

Although Jacopo rarely left his home town Bassano on the Venetian mainland, he nonetheless attracted many patrons from Venice itself. He was famed for his depictions of biblical subjects, which he set in realistic rustic surroundings with vivid depictions of animals and rural life.