Tiepolo. Venezia, Milano, l’Europa, an exhibition marking the 250th anniversary of the artist’s death in 1770, is currently being held at the Gallerie d’Italia in Milan, under the patronage of the Presidency of the Italian Republic and in partnership with the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice.
“Tiepolo was among the finest spreaders of artistic splendour across Europe,” says the exhibition’s co-curator Alessandro Morandotti.
“He worked in tune with the ambitions of the time, creating extraordinary compositions on palace ceilings to celebrate the virtues and glories of the great European courts, which then were the main patrons of artists.”
The exhibition covers the whole of Tiepolo’s career, from his early training in the workshop of Gregorio Lazzarini in Venice through to his final years in Spain. An imaginative storyteller and undisputed master of the rococo, he created theatrical scenes filled with beaming light, luminous colour and buoyant, airborne figures.
The Gallerie d’Italia is a museum run by Intesa Sanpaolo, Italy’s biggest bank, on Milan’s Piazza Scala, and this is the first ever major show dedicated to Tiepolo in that city.
This is somewhat surprising, given that he spent pretty much the entire 1730s working there. “Milan was absolutely central to his story,” says Morandotti. “After his initial successes in Venice, this was the first place he received commissions from really important clients – such as Carlo Archinto, the noble scholar for whom he frescoed [five] ceilings in the Palazzo Archinto. The decade in Milan marked a decisive turning point in his career and a springboard for his international fame.”
As its title suggests, the exhibition explores Tiepolo’s years in Milan in some depth. Tragically, all the Palazzo Archinto frescoes were destroyed by Allied bombing in the Second World War. However, the show will include an oil sketch – on loan from Lisbon’s Museu Nacional – of the largest fresco, Triumph of the Arts and Sciences, which championed Archinto’s erudition.