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Giambattista Tiepolo

Rinaldo And Armida In Her Garden

Giambattista Tiepolo. Rinaldo and Armida in Her Garden, 1742/45. Bequest of James Deering.

Also known as
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Gian Battista Tiepolo
Date of birth
Date of death

Giambattista Tiepolo was one of the most significant Venetian painters, draftsmen, and printmakers of the 18th century. Founder and head of a successful family workshop, Tiepolo’s activity ranged from grand-scale wall frescoes, to religious and secular paintings on canvas, to works in the more intimate mediums of etching and drawing. Working with his sons, Giovanni Domenico and Lorenzo, Tiepolo carried out prestigious commissions in Italy and abroad, famously including the residence of the Prince-Bishop of Würzburg in Germany and the Spanish royal palace in Madrid. 

Tiepolo achieved renown at a young age working for the Catholic Church and the nobility. The four large canvases at the Art Institute are enchanting examples of the lavish, brightly colored paintings he executed for the palaces of the Venetian aristocracy. Depicting scenes from Torquato Tasso’s 16th-century epic romance Gerusalemme Liberata, the canvases once decorated the walls of a Venetian palazzo. The Art Institute’s Virgin and Child with Saints Dominic and Hyacinth is among Tiepolo’s many religious paintings commissioned for churches. 

One of the most talented draftsmen of his time, Tiepolo produced a large number of drawings in different media. Whether in highly finished compositions or rapid sketches, his pen and ink wash drawings are remarkable for their seamless blend of linear energy and painterly softness. He also practiced his hand by drawing caricatures, mostly for his private amusement. Tiepolo often used red chalk on blue paper to sketch from life or make preparatory studies for his paintings. 

In the 1730s and 1740s, Tiepolo worked on two series of etchings in which he envisioned a fantasy world inhabited by satyrs, soldiers, shepherds, and venerable old men in fanciful dress. First published in 1743 the ten Capricci depict picturesque, sometimes supernatural or even macabre scenes, while the 24 Scherzi are generally more enigmatic, melancholy compositions. Both series were very influential, inspiring, among others, the great printmakers Giovanni Battista Piranesi and Francisco Goya.

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