Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

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Tiepolo, Giovanni Battista

(jōvän`nē bät-tē`stä tyĕ`pōlō), 1696–1770, Italian painter, b. Venice. A master of the rococo style, he was the most important Venetian painter and decorator of the 18th cent. His frescoes in the Labia Palace and the doge's palace won him international fame. In 1750, Tiepolo was summoned to Würzburg, where he decorated the palace of the archbishop with frescoes illustrating the life of Emperor Frederick I and with altarpieces depicting the Ascension of the Virgin and Fall of the Angels. In 1762 he went to Madrid, where he passed the remainder of his life and decorated the royal palace with frescoes representing Spain and Her Provinces and the Apotheosis of Spain. He also created many paintings in oil. Lightness and clarity of color, superb draftsmanship, and scintillating brushwork mark his style. His mastery and audacity are amazing, particularly in his fresco decorations, in which he sent foreshortened deities floating on clouds through sunny skies. His art is derived from VeroneseVeronese, Paolo
, 1528–88, Italian painter of the Venetian school. Named Paolo Caliari, he was called Il Veronese from his birthplace, Verona. Trained under a variety of minor local artists, he was more influenced by the works of Giulio Romano, Parmigianino, and
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, but it is less concerned with solid structure and shows more surface brilliance. Tiepolo is also famous as a draftsman and etcher. GoyaGoya y Lucientes, Francisco José de
, 1746–1828, Spanish painter and graphic artist. Goya is generally conceded to be the greatest painter of his era. Early Life and Work

After studying in Zaragoza and Madrid and then in Rome, Goya returned c.
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 learned much from him technically. Two of Tiepolo's sons, Giandomenico and Lorenzo, continued his tradition. Tiepolo's works are in many European and American public collections. Among the latter are The Crucifixion (City Art Mus., St. Louis); The Apotheosis of Aeneas (Mus. of Fine Arts, Boston); and two allegorical pictures (Metropolitan Mus.). The National Gallery, Washington, D.C., also has several of his pictures.


See catalog of works (ed. by G. Knox, 1960); studies by A. Morassi (1955), P. Ancona (1956), V. Crivellaro (1962), A. Rizzi (1972), B. L. Brown et al. (1993), and R. Colasso (2009).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Tiepolo, Giovanni Battista


Born Mar. 5, 1696, in Venice; died Mar. 27, 1770, in Madrid. Italian painter, draftsman, and engraver. Foremost representative of the Venetian school in the 18th century.

Tiepolo studied in Venice under G. Lazzarini. His style was later influenced by P. Veronese and G. B. Piazzetta. Although he worked primarily in his native city, Tiepolo also accepted commissions in Milan (1731–32, 1737, and 1740), Würzburg (1750–53), and Madrid (1762–70). His early compositions, from the period 1716–34, are noted for their dramatic, spirited forms, dark colors, and strong contrasts of light and dark shadings, or chiaroscuro. Already evident in these works are the rich fantasy and decorative grandeur that later came to be identified with Tiepolo’s style. Examples are the series of paintings he did after 1725 for the Dolfin Palace in Venice (now in the Hermitage, Leningrad, and in other collections).

Between 1735 and 1750, Tiepolo displayed a freer and more expressive technique in the execution of his subjects. Through the use of a brighter palette, he achieved more subtle nuances of color, as in the decorated ceilings of the Venetian churches of the Gesuati (1737–39) and the Scalzi 1743–44). During the 1750’s and 1760’s—a period in which he enjoyed wide recognition, attested locally by his election as president of Venice’s Academy of Painting and Sculpture (1756–58)—Tiepolo was commissioned to do a series of frescoes at several foreign royal courts. These and other works of the same period—for example, the decorations of the Residenz in Würzburg (1750–53), the Palazzo Labia in Venice (c. 1750), the Villa Valmarana, near Vicenza (1757), and the Palazzo Ca’ Rezzonico in Venice (1758)—are distinguished by their splendor and festive mood, conveyed by radiant colors in delicate red, brown, golden yellow, blue, pearl gray, and silvery tones.

In addition to decorations, Tiepolo also painted canvases, the most important of which he created during the 1740’s and 1750’s. Impressive for the vivid emotionality of their images and for their masterly technique, they include The Triumph of Amphitrite (c. 1740, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden) and The Adoration of the Magi (1753, Alte Pinakothek, Munich). From 1762 to 1766, Tiepolo decorated several ceilings in the Royal Palace in Madrid.

Among Tiepolo’s other major works—all fine examples of his individual treatment of religious, classical, and historical themes—are The Temptation of St. Anthony (c. 1725, Brera, Milan); Rachel Hiding the Idols (begun 1726, Palazzo Arcivescovile, Udine); The Gathering of the Manna (c. 1735–40, Church of Verolanuova, near Brescia); Danae (c. 1736, University Museum, Stockholm); Two Saints (c. 1740–45, Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow); The Marriage of Barbarossa (1750–53, Residenz, Würzburg); and The Death of Dido (Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow).

With Tiepolo, the tradition of Italian decorative art on a grand scale, which began in the 16th century, came to an end. Yet his frescoes and paintings—with their apparently limitless expanses, their powerful vitality and pictorial freedom, their perfection of light and air effects, and their luminosity and innovation of perspective, marked by bold foreshortenings—represent less an end than a culmination of a long and influential tradition. What Tiepolo possessed in particular as a decorative artist was the ability to broaden and deepen actual space by imaginatively integrating his huge compositions with the rest of the interior.

Tiepolo also painted portraits. Representative works are the Portrait of Antonio Riccobono (c. 1745, Accademia dei Concor-di, Rovigo) and the group compositions Meeting of the Grand Council of the Knights of Malta, or simply Concilium in Arena (1748–50, Pinacotheca, Udine), and Apotheosis of the Pisani Family (1761–62, Villa Pisani, Strä). An accomplished draftsman, Tiepolo produced many drawings and etchings, notably Capricci and Scherzi di Fantasia, a series of etchings in which the artist’s expressive manner and bold technique are evident in the picturesque depiction of fantastic subjects.


Shcherbacheva, M. I. Kartiny T’epolo iz dvortsa Dol’fino v Ermitazhe. Leningrad, 1941.
Ol’shanskaia, N. I. T’epolo. Moscow, 1957.
Morassi, A. A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings of G. B. Tiepolo. London [1962].
Rizzi, A. The Etchings of the Tiepolos: Complete Edition. London, 1971.
Atti del congresso internazionale di studi sul Tiepolo. [Milan, 1972.]
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Concording with Guardi's volatile dazzle, the visions of his brother-in-law Giambattista Tiepolo (1690-1770) flare, sky-bound.
Veronese's Marriage feast at Cana was painted to heighten the splendour of a building by the greatest architect of his age, Palladio, and this too was the environment in which, almost 200 years later, Giambattista Tiepolo, assisted by his sons Domenico and Lorenzo, worked from 1750 to 1753 in decorating Balthasar Neumann's magnificent Residenz at Wurzburg, of which the staircase hall, or Treppenhaus, was the greatest of Neumann's special conceptions.
Robinson (New Haven, CT, 1994), which includes a chapter on Giambattista Tiepolo by Adriano Mariuz (pp.171218).
Among articles on Giambattista Tiepolo, two are particularly relevant: M.
Levey, Giambattista Tiepolo: his life and art (New Haven, CT, 1986).
(25) For example, see Levey, Giambattista Tiepolo, p.
Beverly Louise Brown is the author of Giambattista Tiepolo: Master of the Oil Sketch.