Monday, March 5, 2018

Tiepolo. Born on this day in 1770

March 05, 1696. Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (March 5, 1696 - March 27, 1770), also known as Gianbattista or Giambattista Tiepolo, was an Italian painter and printmaker from the Republic of Venice. He was prolific, and worked not only in Italy, but also in Germany and Spain. In this image: View of the ceiling of the Imperial Hall in the Wurzburg Residenz. After more than two years the frescoes painted by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo have been restored.

From one of Robert Hughes' insightful essays when he wrote for Time Magazine. 

Anyone who feels uncomfortable with the sheer artificiality of art is likely to have difficulties with Giambattista Tiepolo, the greatest Italian painter--and one of the three or four chief European ones--of the 18th century. Though based on intensive study of the human body, his work is about as realistic as grand opera. Enter it, and you're inducted into a majestic yet unpredictable fantasy land. It is full of soaring and twisting space, transparency and delicious shot-silk color--a place dedicated to the imagination and filled with idealized personages from history, myth and fable. It is by turns sublime, witty and slightly preposterous in its self-delighting rhetoric.

Tiepolo's world is best experienced in his native Venice, because so many of his large-scale murals and ceiling paintings are there. But this month New York City museums have a veritable festa of Tiepolo's movable work, commemorating the 300th anniversary of his birth. . . .

These shows make it clear that the once accepted view of Tiepolo was wrong. It said, in effect, that he was a slightly suspect virtuoso--the last of what had been, a fizzing Catherine wheel of talent at the end of the long display of Venetian genius that ran from the Bellinis to Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese. Disapproval of Tiepolo was high-toned; his work did not accord with the moralizing grandeur of a later Neoclassicism, still less with the assumptions of Realism. It was rococo, compliant, theatrical and somehow frivolous. It celebrated a city in deep decline and praised a whole string of sometimes pretentious and reactionary patrons. And so forth.

Much of this was true, and none of it matters in the least today. One has to take Tiepolo on his own terms. He wanted, he said, to "please noble, rich people." So did every artist in Europe until the late 19th century. He was working in a tradition and adding to it. His borrowings from the past were inspired, not passive or academic. His great model was Veronese--indeed, his contemporaries called him "Veronese reborn"--and other artists influenced him too. He was acutely style-conscious, and as alert as a magpie. But the effect of his work ran on into the future..."

  • Find this article at:

  • 1 comment:

    Carla Ives said...

    I had never heard of Tiepolo. I'm sorry about that as this is phenomenal work. I think Robert Hughes called it rightly in his piece. It's hard to pick a favorite as all the pieces depicted here are wonderful.