LONGHI, Pietro
(b. 1702, Venezia, d. 1783, Venezia)

Fall of the Giants

Palazzo Morosini Sagredo, Venice

The Palazzo Morosini Sagredo is a large building with a Gothic façade overlooking the Grand Canal. It was built by the Morosini family, possibly during two separate phases between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. It was acquired by the future doge Nicolò Sagredo in 1661. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, his descendents commissioned the renovation of the interiors. Andrea Tirali was brought in to design the monumental staircase at the back of the building, which was completed in 1732. Carpoforo Mazzetti and Abbondio Stazio were hired to create the stucco work for the small rooms on the top floor, and some of the most renowned painters of the day painted the ceilings of the principal rooms.

For the decoration of the large staircase, the young Pietro Longhi was employed, who completed the project in 1734. The frescoes shows the influence of Emilian painters, particularly Giuseppe Maria Crespi, with whom he studied in Bologna.

The fresco completely covers the ceiling and the walls of the large stairwell, extending even to the wooden shutters of the windows that open onto it. It depicts the story of Jupiter's root of the Giants, sons of the Earth who had rebelled against the gods, who had cast them out of Olympus. Jupiter appears at the centre of the ceiling, caught in the act of hurling his lightning bolts against the Giants. He sits astride a large eagle that holds other lightning bolts in its beak. Beneath him, arranged in a circle on the clouds, various other Olympian gads witness his victory.