By Anne Leader
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, known as Giambattista, was baptized on 16 April 1696 in the church of San Pietro di Castello, then the cathedral of Venice. He was named after the Venetian nobleman Giovanni Battista Dorià, who served as his godfather.
Widely recognized as Italy’s, and perhaps Europe’s, greatest Rococo painter, Tiepolo would go on to have a long career painting for royal patrons from Bavaria to Spain. In addition to grand fresco cycles celebrating princes and kings, Tiepolo painted numerous religious images for confraternities, churches, and private citizens, who also sought out his classically inspired mythologies and allegories. His work also received acclaim through the dissemination of his prints – a series of Capricci from the 1730s and his Scherzi di fantasia, possibly etched at the same time or later.
Among his best known works are the frescoes decorating the Residenz (royal palace) at Würzberg for Prince-Bishop Karl Philipp von Greiffenklau (1750-53), which conflated ancient and medieval history and mythology in a grand celebration of the special relationship between the Holy Roman Emperor and the bishop of this Bavarian principality. He would also decorate the Palacio Real for King Charles III in Madrid, where he died at age 74.
William L. Barcham. “Tiepolo.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press.
Nativity, 1732, oil on canvas. Basilica San Marco, Venice
The Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew, 1722, oil on canvas, San Stae, Venice
Angelic Musicians and Putti, 1726, fresco, Cathedral, Udine
The Banquet of Cleopatra, 1743-44, oil on canvas. Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria, 103-4
Young Shepherds and Old Man with a Monkey, from Scherzi, 1735–40, Etching printed in black on paper. Art Institute of Chicago, Print and Drawing Purchase Fund, 1937.149
Two Soldiers and Two Women, from Capricci, 1740/50, etching. Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of the Print and Drawing Club, 1924.1176
Armida Encounters the Sleeping Rinaldo, 1742-45, oil on canvas. Art Institute of Chicago, Bequest of James Deering, 1925.700
Imperial Hall, Residenz, Würzburg
Apotheosis of Spain, fresco. Madrid: Palacio Real