TIEPOLO was the unchallenged lion of Venetian painters of the Rococo
period and, indeed, all of the 18th century. His characteristic style
displays numerous active figures in vivid pastel colors ranged across
vast, airy spaces. Critic Robert Hughes describes Tiepolo's work as
"full of soaring and twisting space, transparency and delicious shot-silk
color -- a place dedicated to the imagination and filled with idealized
personages from history, myth and fable." Yet arts historian Paul Holberton
has observed that Tiepolo "could temper the graceful, operatic posturing
typical of the Rococo school with an Olympian grandeur."
his career as a student of Gregorio Lazzarini (and perhaps of Piazetta)
but his elegant and sumptuous style was perhaps most heavily influenced
by his study of the work of his predecessor more than 100 years
earlier, Paolo Caliari [Veronese]. In
1732 Da Canal wrote that Tiepolo "was
Doge [Giovanni II] Cornaro's painter at
[the Doge's] San Polo [palace]; he used to supervise the distribution
of pictorial things in [the Doge's] rich home, and . . . painted
several overdoor decorations with tasteful portraits and paintings."
He painted for the palace (c. 1715) a
portrait of the Doge himself now
displayed in the Egidio Martini Collection at Museo Ca' Rezzonico
in Venice) and a portrait of
the Doge's ancestor Doge Marco Cornaro (B-1).
paintings and frescos throughout Venice and the Veneto, with excursions
to Bergamo (Colleoni Chapel) and Milan (ceiling, Palazzzo Clerici).
Among prominent installations of his work in Venice are the ceiling
panels of the Scuola Grande dei Carmine (early 1740s). His earliest
surviving frescos were created, 1734, for the then newly-rebuilt villa
of Count Loschi at Brion de Monteviale near Vicenza.
In 1750, however,
Tiepolo removed for a period of three years to Wurzburg, where he executed
magnificent ceiling paintings and frescos for the Archbishop's palace.
In 1761, at the invitation of Carlos III, Tiepolo left Venice again,
this time to create frescos for the royal palace in Madrid, where he
remained until his death. Tiepolo is buried in Venice in his parish
church of Madonna dell'Orto, where he is represented by the giant canvas
The Worship of the Golden Calf and by The Last Judgment.
In recent years
Tiepolo's reputation has suffered from the condemnation that his work
is artificial, even frivolous. The spate of grand exhibitions marking
the 300th anniversary of his birth have, however, brought still another
reappraisal. Now the "distanced, self-aware theatrics of his style"
are seen as precociously modern -- but with a virtuosity unique to Tiepolo