Jacopo Palma the Younger

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Self-portrait, approx. 1590, 128 × 96 cm; Milan, Pinacoteca di Brera

Jacopo Palma the Younger (* around 1548 in Venice ; † October 17, 1628 ibid), Italian also Palma (il) Giovane , was an Italian painter and etcher. Like his great-uncle Palma Vecchio , his real name was Jacopo Negretti (sometimes spelled “Negreti” or “Nigretti”), but consistently called himself and his family “Palma” in his signatures, monograms and the numerous handwritten comments on his drawings.

Palma was born the son of the painter Antonio Palma from Serina near Bergamo , a nephew of Palma Vecchio. In the 17th century he was nicknamed il Giovane in order to better distinguish him from his great-uncle of the same name.


Little reliable data is known about Palma's training as a painter. However, since his father Antonio inherited the earlier workshop of his famous uncle at the death of Bonifacio de 'Pitati , who in turn had been the workshop successor of Palma Vecchio, in 1553 , in view of the extremely traditionalist structures of the Venetian art business, it stands to reason that he received his initial training through the Father received. It is known that in his youth he copied large numbers of paintings by older masters, such as Titian's Martyrdom of St. Lawrence in Santa Maria Assunta when he was 16 . His first biographer, Ridolfi, describes how he was "discovered" by the Duke of Urbino, Guidobaldo II della Rovere , who then offered him a study visit to his court in Pesaro. In 1564 he therefore accompanied the Duke to Pesaro, where, with a few interruptions, he lived until 1567 and studied the ducal collections. The Duke then sent him to Rome to perfect his drawing skills in particular, where he lived in the house of the urban ambassador, to whose astonishment, however, he practiced his training largely autodidactically and avoided systematic contact with other artists.

In the course of 1570 he finally returned to Venice, where he initially found it difficult to fit in due to the now strongly central Italian character of his style. In order to find his way back to the peculiarities of the Venetian school of late mannerism, in the following years he leaned extremely heavily on Tintoretto , occasionally also on Veronese (especially his early pen drawings) and Jacopo Bassano ; It was not until around 1580 that Palma found its own style, which he then consistently developed, especially as a draftsman, until the end of his life. From 1576 onwards, a series of coincidences helped Palma move up into the front row of the Venetian masters faster than it might have been possible under other circumstances (Antonio Palma seems to have died in 1577, since this year Jacopo was first mentioned as an independent master in documents becomes). First Titian died in 1576 as a victim of the great plague epidemic, and Palma succeeded in acquiring one of the unfinished paintings and completing it with an explanatory inscription; this Pietà hangs today in the Gallerie dell'Accademia in Venice, and how much Palma knew how to use this circumstance for its self-portrayal is evident from the fact that an almost contemporary source already claimed to be involved in Titian's workshop, as well as several authors from the 20th century. Century postulated either a school or an assistant relationship with Tizian, although there is not the slightest documentary evidence for this.

Venezia, crowned by the goddess of victory, receives the subordinate provinces , 1584, Doge's Palace

Then in 1577, in the first of two fires in the Doge's Palace, many of the paintings by Carpaccio , Bellini , Veronese and Titian were destroyed. On the recommendation of the sculptor Alessandro Vittoria , in addition to Tintoretto, Veronese and Jacopo Bassano, Palma also received initial orders for the restoration of the palace rooms, namely the painting of the ceiling in the hall of the great council ( Sala del Maggior Consiglio ). These included the central oval image Venezia, crowned by the goddess of victory, welcomes the subordinate provinces and the two flanking images The Doge Andrea Gritti Recaptures Padua and The Victory of Francesco Bembo over the fleet of Filippo Maria Visconti . Overall, Palma was still more or less used by the work in the Doge's Palace until the turn of the century.

In 1583 he was commissioned to paint the oratorio in the hospice of the Order of the Crociferi in Venice, with which he was busy for the next ten years; after 1600 a series of pictures in the church itself (Santa Maria Assunta) were added. The hospice was a foundation managed by the Procurators of San Marco and looked after women in need. One of the pictures, The Doge Renier Zen and the Dogaressa are blessed by Christ , is dedicated to Zen as the foundation 's first patron . The image of the Doge Pasquale Cicogna attending Mass recalls the fact that Cicogna was informed of his election as Doge when he attended mass in the Church of the Crociferi.

The Last Supper, Diocesan Museum Graz

Palma was a busy painter in Venice and received not only state contracts but also those from various ecclesiastical patrons. Private patrons were rare because of the plague's exhausted financial situation for many patricians. For the church of San Giuliano he painted the central picture on the ceiling, the glorification of Saint Julian , which is already reminiscent of baroque ceiling paintings. He also worked as a portrait painter and is highly valued in this capacity to this day; In addition to numerous commissioned works, there are also four painted self-portraits of him that are accepted as handwritten, as well as a number of drawn self-portraits.

After Tintoretto's death in 1594, Palma was, according to the judgment of his contemporaries, the leading painter in Venice - a position that he was able to hold until his own death in 1628 (Veronese had died in 1588, Jacopo Bassano in 1592, and as in the case of the family of the In these two cases, too, Tintoretto was unable to keep up with the generation of sons after the death of their fathers). A very productive phase of work began for him, which paradoxically, in the judgment of contemporaries, was increasingly accompanied by quality problems and a loss of originality. The reason for these difficulties, however, is less likely, as has been claimed, that Palma became lazy after the disappearance of its main competitors, but rather that because of the enormous number of orders, the work grew over his head and he more and more work on his Workshop employees had to give up, which almost always led to a drop in artistic quality and, above all, to repeated motifs. Nevertheless, there are still many pictures of very high quality from the period after 1600, apart from the fact that his achievements as a draftsman were largely unaffected by these difficulties. He carried out various commissions for churches and chapels in collaboration with the sculptor Alessandro Vittoria . He had access to the intellectual circle of the mannerist poet Giambattista Marino , from whom apparently the inspiration for his few mythological images came. In the meantime his reputation reached far beyond Venice, and he received commissions from various courts in Italy as well as from the German Emperor Rudolf II and the Polish King Sigismund III.

Drawings and etchings

Three drawn, dated versions of the Adoration of the Shepherds in the very free drawing style of the late work (to scale)

A large number of chalk and pen drawings and 27 etchings by Palma Giovane have survived. These and engravings based on his drawings were published by Jacopo Franco in 1611 under the title De excellentia et nobilitate delineationis . From around 1590 onwards, Palma is considered the most important draftsman of the Venetian school. The enormous number of more than 1,000 documented sheets already shows that Palma, as a result of his stay in central Italy (especially in Umbria and Tuscany, drawing was recognized as an independent and collectable art form as early as the mid-15th century), the importance of drawing for Venice has successfully redefined. Until then, in the Veneto, drawing was viewed exclusively as a work step on the way to painting and the corresponding working drawings were strictly kept in their role as working material in the workshops, according to contemporary witness reports, Palma drew almost continuously and often only for the sake of the joy of drawing; an attitude that the generation of the great Venetians of the early and mid-18th centuries ( Giambattista Tiepolo , Gaspare Diziani , Giambattista Piazzetta , Sebastiano Ricci , Giambattista Pittoni, and others) adopted unchanged. Palma's graphic works were already highly valued by art collectors during his lifetime and were transferred to private art collections in large numbers in the 17th and early 18th centuries. In addition, Palma's importance for art history lies, as a draftsman even more than a painter, especially in his role as a pioneer of the early Baroque in Venice.

Title page “Della Nobilta Del Disegno”. Venice, 1611.


  • Giacomo Franco: Della Nobilta del Disegno. Diviso in due Libri. In: Frezzaria alla insegna del Sole . Venice 1611 (copperplate engraving in Latin and parallel in Italian, combining the anatomy studies of Jacopo Palma and drawings by Franco).
  • Stefania Mason Rinaldi: Palma il Giovane. L'opera completa ( Profili e saggi di arte veneta series ). Electa, Milan 1984.
  • Stefania Mason:  NEGRETTI, Jacopo, detto Palma il Giovane. In: Raffaele Romanelli (ed.): Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (DBI). Volume 78:  Natta – Nurra. Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, Rome 2013.

Web links

Commons : Palma the Younger  - Collection of images, videos and audio files