TIEPOLO, Giovanni Battista
(b. 1696, Venezia, d. 1770, Madrid)

The Judgment of Solomon

1726-29
Fresco, 360 x 655 cm
Palazzo Patriarcale, Udine

The large oblong painting in the centre of the ceiling shows a wide flight of stairs, seen from below at an oblique angle, on which King Solomon is enthroned in front of a canopy of cloth, acting in his capacity as a judge. The moment in which the true mother is revealed is re-enacted here. Contrary to what it says in the Bible, a crowd of onlookers, including a dog and a dwarf, are present as Solomon makes his judgment that the child shall be "divided equally" by the sword. The true mother prevents this awful deed in order to save her child, while the dead infant of the false mother in the foreground is a reference to the cause of events.