Wednesday, 5 March 2014

318 Today

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, a prodigiously talented painter even by Venetian standards, was born on this day in 1696. A master of huge decorative schemes, but equally dazzling on a small scale, he is one of those artists who tends to be undervalued because he makes it all  look so easy. His best paintings are such airy creations, full of light and colour and movement, with little of the sombre or 'serious' about them, and his free, dashing brushwork gives the impression that they are just dashed off. Like Veronese's, they give a big hit of immediate sensory pleasure - and, to the more serious-minded, that will never do. Perhaps the forthcoming Veronese blockbuster at the National Gallery will change minds about him, but Tiepolo for now will have to wait.
 Meanwhile, here is a glorious Tiepolo ceiling panel - no one was ever better than him at turning a ceiling into a sky - depicting Nobility and Virtue defeating Perfidy, though the real subject is more like Celestial Blue and Ravishing Rose-Apricot defeating an exquisitely toned range of Greys. To think that just five months ago, I was looking up at this very painting on the first floor of Ca' Rezzonico. Hey ho...

8 comments:

  1. Also the subject of a truly extraordinary book Tiepolo Pink by Roberto Callasso.

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  2. Thanks for the tip Anon.

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  3. 'Tiepolo: the last breath of happiness in Europe." Thus Callasso, who is wonderful on Tiepolo's sprezzatura and transformation of history into phantasmagoria. Glorious painter.

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  4. Sprezzatura - lovely word, and exactly right for Tiepolo...

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  5. My pleasure Nige you have put many good things my way.

    On the same theme and reflecting your often acute observations on art can I recommend Erwin Panoffsky "Studies in Iconography" its a bit hard to find having been published in 1939 but it is from the same tradition as Walter Benjamin. A work of profound learning and insight after which you will never look at Art in the same way again.

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