David Bowie’s Tintoretto Granted Long-Term Loan to Rubenshouse

A decision that honors two great artists.

Jacopo Robusti, called Jacopo Tintoretto and Studio (1518 – 1594), The Angel foretelling Saint Catherine of Alexandria of her martyrdom Oil on canvas with an arched top, relined as a rectangle, 177.1 by 99.3cm.
Jacopo Robusti, called Jacopo Tintoretto and Studio (1518 – 1594), The Angel foretelling Saint Catherine of Alexandria of her martyrdom Oil

After nearly 30 years as a part of David Bowie‘s expansive art collection, a monumental work by Italian painter Jacopo Tintoretto will soon be accessible to the public.

The Angel foretelling Saint Catherine of Alexandria of her martyrdom (late 1570s) was acquired for £191,000 by a European collector during Sotheby’s sale of the late musician’s collection last Thursday. Immediately after making his purchase, the collector announced his plans to place the work on a long-term loan to the Rubenshouse Museum in Antwerp, Belgium, in the hope that there, the piece will be admired by many.

Through this act of generosity the collector sought to pay dual homage to the remarkable influence that Tintoretto and Venetian painting had on Belgian artist Peter Paul Rubens, and to the legendary musician who formerly owned the work. The gesture is intended to honor Bowie’s life-long love of and generosity towards museums and cultural institutions.

Prior to Bowie’s acquisition of the piece during the 1980s, it was originally an altarpiece for the Church of San Geminiano in Venice, a small, but elaborate church that faced the Basilica in Piazza San Marco. Displayed in the church until it was destroyed in 1807, the painting depicts Saint Catherine of Alexandria learning of her impending martyrdom from a messenger angel,  and is composed with deeply religious and emotive imagery.

Although details regarding the work’s future display are yet to come, the piece is eagerly anticipated as a breathtaking addition to the Belgian museum’s existing collection.


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