This article will examine the discursive process of canon formation that occurred in Venice in the 1640s. In 1648 Carlo Ridolfi published Le maraviglie dell'arte; it represented one of the first regional histories of art and stood as a monument against Giorgio Vasari's grand and authoritative lives of the artists. The first half of Ridolfi's Le maraviglie began with the late medieval artist Il Guariento and culminated with the biographies of Titian and Veronese. The second volume opened with Tintoretto and went on to cover the lives of modern Venetian painters working in the early seventeenth century. The deaths of Tintoretto and then of his son Domenico, it will be argued, were the first and last steps that enabled the eventual birth of a luminous master narrative for Venetian art.