This autumn the Wallraf will play the opening role in the celebrations for the 500th birthday of the painter genius Jacopo Tintoretto (*1518/19 Venice - Venice 1594) and launch an international series of top-ranking exhibitions marking the event. In its large special exhibition Tintoretto - A Star was Born, the Cologne picture gallery will start by showcasing the mesmerising early work of the Italian master, who is among the most productive and influential artists of all time. For this the Wallraf is bringing priceless loans from the world's greatest museums to the Rhine, including works from Amsterdam, Budapest, London, Madrid, Milan, Rome, Venice, Washington and Vienna.

The exhibition not only presents world famous works by the young, enthused and ingenious Tintoretto, but also the results of the very latest research. Curator Roland Krischel has discovered, for instance, that a large and mysterious painting from the collection of the British queen is not by some Flemish artist, but by the young Tintoretto. The Wallraf is showing the Labyrinth of Love from the Royal Collection for the first time in dialogue with masterpieces that the Italian artist created during the same period. The jubilee exhibition in Cologne runs from 6 October 2017 to 28 January 2018 and will afterwards be hosted by France's oldest museum, the Musée du Luxembourg in Paris.

Jacopo Tintoretto was born in Venice as the son of a dyer in 1518/19 - the research has been unable till now to agree on the exact date of his birth. Without a care for his financial livelihood and spurred on by unbridled ambition, the young artist painted like a man possessed. He transformed the churches, residences and palaces of the lagoon city with dreamlike parallel worlds populated by man and beast: his giant canvases full of portents and miracles, historical events and visions - include the colossal Paradise from the Doge's palace, one of the largest oils ever to be painted. Already in his early work Tintoretto revealed an incomparable narrative flair that earned him the epithet from Jean-Paul Sartre of the "first movie director". Tintoretto reflected as no other Venetian painter the living reality of his home city. At genuine risk to himself, he also mirrored the social and religious tensions of his day. With that his paintings testify to the splendour and misery of a great power in decline on the Mediterranean Sea.

Not only will religious, allegorical, erotic paintings and portraits by the young Tintoretto be brought together for the first time in Cologne, they will also encounter kindred works by his artistic inspirations and rivals, such as Andrea Schiavone and Paris Bordone. Selected drawings, prints and sculptures further underline the broad cultural horizons of the go-getting painter. Once the epitome of "modernity", Tintoretto became the timeless model he has remained to this day.