Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
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 who painted in the "Rococo" style. He was prolific, and worked not only in Italy, but also in Germany and Spain.
Giovan Battista Tiepolo, together with Giambattista Pittoni, Canaletto, Giovan Battista Piazzetta, Giuseppe Maria Crespi and Francesco Guardi are considered the traditional Old Masters of that period.
Successful from the beginning of his career, he has been described by Michael Levey as "the greatest decorative painter of eighteenth-century Europe, as well as its most able craftsman."
Critical assessment and legacy
In his most fluid elaborations, Tiepolo has closest affinity to Ricci, Piazzetta, and Federico Bencovich. He is a shadowless fresco artist, a sunnier rococo Pietro da Cortona. His sumptuous historical set-pieces are enveloped in a regal luminosity. He is principally known for his fresco work, particularly his panegyric ceilings. These followed the Baroque tradition begun a century before by Pietro da Cortona, converting roof to painted sky, elevating petty aristocrats to divine status, and allowing for vast compositions that merged with the delicate ornamentation of the stucco frames. Like Luca Giordano, his palette was muted, almost water-color like. Like Giordano, he was prolific. With an unrivaled Sprezzatura, he painted worlds of fresco, and some such as the walls of Villa Valmarana in Vicenza, not only peer into the mythologic scenes, but are meant to relocate viewers into their midst. The earliest example of this is perhaps his canvases in the Ca' Dolfin, which allowed Tiepolo to introduce exuberant costumes, classical sculpture, and action that appears to spill from the frames into the room. Originally set into recesses, they were surrounded with frescoed frames.
While his painting is infused with the Venetian spirit, his luminosity is not seen in the previous masters; however, Tiepolo is considered the last "Olympian" painter of the Venetian Republic. Like Titian before him, Tiepolo was an international star, treasured by royalty far afield for his ability to depict glory in fresco.
His children painted figures with a design similar to that of their father, but with distinctive, including genre, styles.
Tiepolo produced two sets of etchings, the Capricci (c.1740–2) and the Scherzi di fantasia (c.1743–57) . The ten capricci were first published by Anton Maria Zanetti, incorporated into the third edition of a compilation of woodcuts after Parmigiano. They were not published separately until 1785. The subject matter is often bizarre and fantastical, and the works owe a lot to the example of Salvator Rosa and Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione. The 23 Scherzi were etched over more than ten years and privately circulated, only being commercially published after Tiepolo's death, with numbers and titles added by his son, Giandomenico. Subjects include mysterious Eastern figures, and, in some of the later prints, scenes of necromancy.
List of works