The Painting Saint Mark Freeing the Slave, also known as The Miracle of the Slave, is a large stake that was completed for the Sala Capitolare of the Scuola Grande di San Marco in April 1548, when it is mentioned in a letter of praise sent to the painter by Pietro Aretino, a famous literary figure of the time.
Seized by French troops in 1797, the painting returned to Venice in 1815 and was sent to the Gallerie dell'Accademia following the suppression of all devotional Scuoles by Napoleonic decree.
The work represents one of the posthumous miracles of Saint Mark as related by hagiographical sources: Saint Mark freeing a slave from the torments of torture. On the right we have a wealthy Provençal seated on a raised throne torturing a bound servant, guilty of disobeying his master and going on a pilgrimage to Venice to pay homage to the body of the Evangelist, swearing to surrender his limbs to protect the saint. The miraculous appearance of Saint Mark, who had been invoked by the slave, leads to the destruction of the instruments of torture, leaving the rich man, the executioners and the crowd stunned. The Miracle of the Slave it was the public consecration of Tintoretto in Venice and represents the moment in which the different experiences of his youth converge in his full maturation, giving life to a provocatively innovative language.
The theatrical character of the piece, with its monumental set design and skillful crowd management, betrays the painter's familiarity with the theaters of Venice and opens a new season in the tradition of great narrative paintings commissioned by the Scuole.
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