Tiepolo, Giovanni Battista

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Tiepolo, Giovanni Battista (1696-1770): Italian painter.

Giambattista Tiepolo was the foremost painter of the Italian rococo. A native of Venice, in 1725-28, Tiepolo worked on his first important decorative commission, the Archbishop’s Palace in Udine. During the 1740s, he worked on the Palazzio Labin in Venice and was later elected the President of the new Venetian Academy. As a result of the declining economic fortunes of Venice, however, Tiepolo was eventually forced to leave the city in order to pursue his craft.

From 1750 to 1753, Tiepolo painted a series of frescoes for the Prince-Bishop’s Palace in Würzburg, the most famous of which was for the Grand Staircase. Tiepolo’s art matched well with the German style of rococo architecture as exemplified by the palace. In 1762, he traveled to Madrid where he painted three ceilings for the Royal Palace. He later painted seven altarpieces for the palace in Aranjuez, but due to altered tastes these were rejected in favor of works by Mengs, Anton Raphael.

Tiepolo was most famous for his spectacular frescoes. By his use of white, gold, and pastels, his work is characterized by its light, airy, and luminous qualities that often yield the impression of spatial infinity. Often allegorical in their construction, his paintings are replete with angels, saints, and madonnas, along with depictions of pagan heroes and gods.

Further Reading:

Michael Levey, Giambattista Tiepolo: His Life and Art, 1986.

Kevin E. Dodson