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When Tintoretto began to win commissions which might have been Titian's, the writer Pietro Aretino, a devout supporter of the latter painter, directed his barbed wit at Tintoretto's poverty and pride.

Tintoretto surprisingly responded with a gracious offer to paint Aretino's portrait at no charge. Arriving at Tintoretto's studio, he sat down and struck a pose. "Stand up," the painter ordered. "First I must measure you."

As Aretino stood, Tintoretto approached him, drawing a long horse pistol -- the barrel of which he ran very slowly over his sitter's body. "I find that you are two and a half pistols tall," he declared. "Now go!"

[Painter and writer had no further quarrel.]

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