These are the 12 most famous paintings by Giambattista Tiepolo, who was a Venetian Rococo-style painter and an eminent figure of the 18th-century Venetian school.
Giambattista is often described not only as the greatest decorative painter of 18th-century Europe but as its most able craftsman. His art celebrates the imagination by transposing the world of ancient history and mythology into a grandiose language.
The Banquet of Cleopatra (1744)
This painting is one of the three large paintings of the same subject and one of the most famous paintings by Giambattista Tiepolo. They all depict the banquet that is taking place in the open air with a grandiose architectural setting and visible sky.
The subject of the Banquet paintings is a historical moment described by ancient writers Pliny and Plutarch, in which Cleopatra takes a valuable pearl and dissolves it in her wine, prior to drinking it. An unfortunate symbol of wealth depicted by Tiepolo is the slaves of African descent, who were often held as servants in Venice.
The Glory of St. Dominic (1723)
San Domenico in Gloria is a very mature work where he presents the frequent Christian scene of St. Dominic. This work is in the chapel of the saint in the church of St. Giovanni and Paolo of Venice.
Juno and Luna (1735–1745)
This oil on canvas painting depicts two goddesses from Roman mythology. Luna, the goddess of the moon, makes a path for Juno, who was the consort of Jupiter, the main god in the Roman religion. Above Luna’s head is a golden mask that is emblematic of the moon, and as she wreaths this mask with a rack of clouds, Juno is shown behind her, seated in her peacocks and putti-led chariot.
Allegory of Virtue and Nobility (Allegory of Strength and Wisdom) (1740–1750)
It was long believed that the two figures are allegories of Strength and Wisdom, but these women depict Virtue and Nobility, according to the schemes derived from the iconology. Virtue is the winged young woman holding a spear, Nobility, to whom she is addressing, is richly dressed, and is holding a statuette of Minerva in her left hand. They are depicted triumphing over Ignorance.
Scipio Africanus Freeing Massiva (1719–1721)
This painting is a very strong and effective depiction of a moment in ancient Roman history. It shows the Roman general, Scipio Africanus, after the battle of 209 BC in present-day Spain. There, he defeated the Carthaginians and captured their allies. The painting is showing the details of the moment in which one of the captured Africans is brought to Scipio, but he recognizes him to be Massiva, the nephew of a chieftain of Eastern Numidia.
Perseus and Andromeda, (1730–1731)
This is one of Tiepolo’s four ceiling frescoes in the Palazzo Archinto in Milan that was destroyed by the WW2 bombing in 1943. According to the legend, Queen of Ethiopia, Cassiopeia had angered the Nereids by boasting that she and her daughter Andromeda were as beautiful as they were. To punish her assumption, Neptune sent flood waters and a sea monster to ravage the land, and learning from an oracle that his daughter must be sacrificed to the monster in order to save people, King Cepheus had Andromeda chained to a rock by the sea. The hero, Perseus saw her and moved by her beauty, saved her.
The Empire of Flora (1743)
This painting depicts Flora, the ancient Roman goddess of flowers and spring. In a garden under the blue sky, she rides into the scene on a chariot pulled by winged putti. This painting was commissioned by Count Francesco Algarotti, as a gift for Count Heinrich fon Bruhl. The fountain in the background alludes to a public sculpture that Bruhl had commissioned.
Wealth and Benefits of the Spanish Monarchy under Charles III (1762)
The sketch made by Tiepolo for this vast ceiling fresco in the throne room of the Royal Palace of Madrid was a project that was the climax of his illustrious career. The central feature is the allegorical figure of Spain enthroned and flanked by Herculean statues, while above them is a trumpeting figure of Fame. At the upper left, Christopher Columbus stands with outstretched arms on the deck of his ship.
Apotheosis of Spain (1762–1766)
Apollo, with his right hand extended, is holding a royal scepter. He is arriving on a bank of clouds, cradling in his left army his lyre as he is the god of music and the arts. Mercury who is the messenger of the gods flies in with a crown for the enthroned figure of Spain, Fame sounds his trumpet while Jupiter commands the proceedings above his soaring eagle.
The Immaculate Conception (1767–1768)
This painting depicts the Virgin Mary, surrounded by angels, and crowned with a circle of stars. She is shown trampling a snake which is a representation of her victory over evil and the devil. The flowers, lilies, and rose symbolize Mary’s love and purity.
Apollo Pursuing Daphne (1755–1760)
This painting depicts Apollo, Daphne, and Cupid who is taking cover from the wrath of Apollo that will shortly ensue, and Peneus who is remaining firmly rooted in an effort to stop the pursuer. This off-center composition, which is typical of Venetian art, was used by Tiepolo elsewhere, but never in such a dramatic intense manner.
Saint Patrick, Bishop of Ireland (1746)
This painting was produced for the church of San Giovanni di Verdara in Padua in Italy. It depicts St Patrick in the white and golden vestments of a bishop, standing on a marble pedestal and raising his left hand as he cures an invalid.
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