Tiepolo: undisputed master of rococo
A comprehensive Milan exhibition hosted by Intesa Sanpaolo showcases the Venetian painter’s gift for creating extraordinarily vibrant, theatrical works.
In 1762, aged 66, the Venetian artist Giambattista Tiepolo left his home city for Madrid to begin the final chapter of his glittering career. He had been invited by the Spanish king, Charles III, to decorate the ceiling of the Throne Room, one of the key ceremonial spaces in the new Royal Palace. Tiepolo’s huge fresco, usually known as The Glory of the Spanish Monarchy, is still a star attraction for visitors to the palace today.
Shortly before leaving Venice, Tiepolo had been quoted in a local newspaper, La Nuova Veneta Gazzetta, as saying that a “painter’s mind must always aim at the sublime, the heroic and for perfection”. These words serve as an artistic credo for one of the great painters of the 18th century.
He was also one of the most in-demand. Tiepolo received commissions from eminent families and religious orders across Italy, as well as from royal houses in Spain, Sweden, Russia and Germany. He executed hundreds of oil paintings and literally acres of fresco.
“Tiepolo exported the splendour of Italian art to Europe. This fits perfectly with Intesa Sanpaolo’s place as an Italian bank with a strong international vocation”
Because of constraints brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, a few works from US institutions didn’t make it into the exhibition as planned. But visitors are still able to enjoy loans from several other international collections, such as the National Gallery in London, Museo del Prado in Madrid and the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth.
The show features around 70 works in all, in addition to digital projections of Tiepolo’s famous frescoes in Madrid and Bavaria (at the Würzburger Residenz). According to Fernando Mazzocca, Morandotti’s co-curator, however, “some of the highlight exhibits are actually works which are little known to the public and will hopefully come as something of a revelation. The frescoes from the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio, for example.”
The basilica in question is a Milanese church from which two Tiepolo frescoes were removed in the 19th Century. They now appear (after a fair amount of conservation work) at the Gallerie d’Italia.
“Intesa Sanpaolo is proud to stage this exhibition featuring Tiepolos that count among the highest expressions of Italian painting”, says Michele Coppola, the bank’s Executive Director of Art, Culture and Historic Heritage.
“Some of the highlight exhibits are actually works which are little known to the public”
“Tiepolo was among the finest spreaders of artistic splendour across Europe”
Tiepolo. Venezia, Milano, l’Europa runs at the Gallerie d’Italia, Milan, until 2 May.
A virtual tour of the exhibition is available here.
Cover: Giambattista Tiepolo, Trionfo delle arti e delle scienze
Last updated 3 November 2021