The illustrations in this volume, and the catalogue which explains and supplements them, have claims to completeness only in the sense that the Master's essential pictures, in so far as they were accessible, have been reproduced and also those of the doubtful attributions which are more important and are recognized by reliable authorities or at least mentioned. For paintings still in the art market it seemed advisable to use especially severe reserve. Of the drawings we have included only a few characteristic examples.
The essential conditions for the inclusion of a picture in this volume have been the conviction that it is a work by the master's own hand or the power of original conception it reveals. With a painter like Tintoretto, who from his early days had an atelier of which he made more and more use as time went on, there is bound to be a conflict of opinion as to which of these two characteristics—each of which may coincide with a lack of the other—is to be taken as authoritative in each individual case. There is no absolute formula for solving this conflict, but only a scientific standard which endeavours to measure every production by the inner conception elaborated by a school of artists. This conception is based mainly on those works which have always been supported by a reliable tradition. That in the case of Tintoretto far more works are still in their original locations in Venice than in the case of Titian fills the spiritual picture which they produce with organic strength and unity. Though there are obscure places in this picture—Tintoretto's youthful development, the practice of his atelier, his production of portraits, which seems to have been based on broad business lines—nevertheless his artistic personality is more clearly circumscribed in its essential features than that of many other important painters. Judged by what we know for certain, much that has been attributed to Tintoretto since the attention of art-lovers has been drawn to him must be rejected. A connoisseurship which considered it a sufficient argument for attributing a work to Tintoretto if certain features of the work in question were reminiscent of him, instead of requiring the inner certainty that in every respect it tallied with his artistic essence' and rank, has collected a sorry assembly of doubtful productions round the bright nucleus of