Sunday, 5 March 2017

Tiepolo Time

Looking back through the years (nearly nine of them now), I see that Giovanni Battista Tiepolo is almost as regular a birthday boy on this blog as Edouard Manet (23rd January). Well, any excuse for a dash of Venetian colour, especially at this time of year.
 Tiepolo was born on this day in 1696, and I shan't repeat what I've written about him on earlier posts (a quick search will bring them up). The image above is Pax et Justitia, a typically brilliant creation, illusionistically perfect, full of light, space and singing colour. It is part of Tiepolo's decorative scheme for the monastery complex on the island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni, a former leper colony in the Venetian lagoon that became an important site of the Armenian diaspora and a great centre of learning.
 Byron spent six months on the island, studying Armenian - 'the language to speak to God'. His visit is fondly remembered - he must have been on his best behaviour. Among later visitors was a young revolutionary called Joseph Stalin, who lodged at the monastery in 1907 and worked as a bell-ringer while on his way through Italy to Switzerland to meet up with Lenin. Now there's an image to savour - young Stalin tugging on the bell ropes of San Lazzaro...
 And here's another - Tiepolo's wonderfully sensuous take on Daphne and Apollo.