TIEPOLO, Giovanni Battista
(b. 1696, Venezia, d. 1770, Madrid)
Education of the Virgin1732
Oil on canvas
Santa Maria della Consolazione (Fava), Venice
The figures in this altarpiece are portrayed more as the heroines of noble dramas than as saints. They combine true pathos with elegant sensuality, as if they were creatures of some higher human species. At the same time, however, they are firmly linked to our sense of everyday life through the descriptive details which are so naturalistic as to border on trompe-l'oeil.
In the centre of the representation, in front of a magnificent architectural backdrop, stands Mary as a young girl, reading from an open book, and instructed by her mother, who sits next to her. Her father, standing to her right, is deep in prayer and has his eyes raised towards Heaven. What is striking about the composition, is the diagonal line which runs from the three angels' heads beneath the book to the three large angels above Mary, and which symbolizes the way to the Kingdom of Heaven.
You can view other depictions of the Education of the Virgin in the Web Gallery of Art.