1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Tiepolo, Giovanni Battista

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TIEPOLO, GIOVANNI BATTISTA (1692–1769), Italian painter, was born at Venice, and acquired the rudiments of his art from Gregorio Lazzarini, and probably from Piazzetta, though the decisive influence on the formation of his style was the study of Paolo Veronese’s sumptuous paintings. When hardly out of his teens he developed an extraordinary facility of brushwork, and proved himself, as a fresco-painter, a colourist of the first order, though this early mastery of technique made him frequently neglect form and composition. The more solid qualities of Paolo Veronese — depth of thought and balance of design — are frequently wanting in his work, but he approaches the earlier master in richness of colour and in the management of difficult effects of lighting. He decorated many Venetian churches and palaces with ceilings and frescoes full of turbulent movement and rich colour, extending his operations to the near cities of the mainland and to Bergamo (Colleoni Chapel) and Milan (ceiling at Palazzo Chierici). In 1750 he proceeded to Würzburg to paint the magnificent ceilings and frescoes at the archbishop's palace. From 1753 to about 1763 he worked again at Venice and in the cities of north-east Italy, until he was summoned to Madrid by Charles III. to paint some frescoes for the royal palace. He died at Madrid in 1769. He was the last important figure in Venetian art, and at the same time the initiator of the baroque period.

Tiepolo's altarpieces and easel pictures show more clearly even than his frescoes how deeply he was imbued with the spirit of Paolo Veronese, for in these smaller works he paid more attention to the balance of composition, whilst retaining the luminosity of his colour harmonies. The majority of his works, both in fresco and in oils, are to be found in Venice in the churches of S. Aloise, SS. Apostoli, Gesuati, SS. Giovanni e Paolo, in the Scalzi, and the Scuola del Carmine, the Academy, and the Palazzi Labia, Rezzonico, and Quirini-Stampalia, and the Doge's Palace. Besides the cities already mentioned, Padua, Udine, Parma and Vicenza boast of fine examples of his work. At the National Gallery are two designs for altarpieces, a “Deposition from the Cross,” “Esther at the Throne of Ahasuerus,” and “The Marriage of Marie de Médicis.” Two versions of “Christ and the Adulteress” are in the collection of Dr L. Richter. Other easel pictures by Tiepolo are at the Louvre, and at the Berlin and Munich galleries. His paintings in Madrid belong to the closing years of his life and show signs of waning power. Tiepolo also executed some notable work with the etching-needle, the list comprising some fifty plates. His two sons, Giovanni Domenico (about 1726-1804) and Lorenzo, did not attain to his excellence.

See Les Tiepolo, by Henry de Chennevières (Paris, 1898); and Pompeo Molmenti, G. B. Tiepolo (Milan, 1910).