TIEPOLO, Giovanni Domenico
(b. 1727, Venezia, d. 1804, Venezia)


Giovanni Domenico (Giandomenico) Tiepolo was the son of Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, the greatest Italian painter of the 18th century. His mother was Cecilia Guardi, the sister of the painter Guardi brothers.

The gifted and clever son of a great artist, Giandomenico Tiepolo spent many years learning by working alongside his father. Giambattista was so convinced of his son's talent that he involved him in the major commissions he undertook at the height of his own powers, and Giandomenico went with him to Würzburg, Vicenza, Stra, and Madrid. It becomes progressively easier to pick out Giandomenico's contributions to the works completed in these years, as during this time he was gradually acquiring his own personal style. This was substantially different (at least in the choice of subject matter) from his father's.

Giandomenico's temperament emerged most effectively in the frescos he painted for the guest lodge at Villa Valmarana near Vicenza (1757). They are imbued with a strong sense of realism, if still elegant and playful. Giandomenico had a marked preference for scenes from contemporary life. He viewed life always from a somewhat ironic perspective (although this was usually quite gentle, he could on occasion become savage). This was true of him both as a painter and as an engraver. At the same time he never broke away fully from his father's style. In particular, Giandomenico worked very closely with his aged father during their stay in Spain (1762-70). The paintings he and his father produced in Madrid were to be a fundamental influence on Goya at the start of his own career.

After his return to Italy, Giandomenico pursued important decorative programs in Venice, Brescia, and Genoa. His painting gradually became tinged with the feeling that it was the end of an epoch. This translated as a lightness of touch and a latent melancholy in the frescos he painted in his family's own villa. These were painted during the last decade of the eighteenth century and are now in the Ca' Rezzonico.

Giandomenico is noteworthy also for his etchings, especially the twenty-two variations on the theme of the Flight into Egypt (1753).