TIEPOLO, Giovanni Battista
(b. 1696, Venezia, d. 1770, Madrid)
The Institution of the Rosary1737-39
Fresco, 1200 x 450 cm
Santa Maria del Rosario (Gesuati), Venice
The fresco is the largest version of this subject in European art, and it combines two different iconographic traditions: in the upper part of the picture, the Rosenkranzbild, in which Mary gives the Rosary to mankind, and, in the lower part, a depiction of the beneficence of the Rosary on earth, represented by St Dominic. As well as the Madonna of the Rosary, the fresco also extols St Dominic, the founder of the Dominican order, to whom the dog is a reference (lat. domini canes, God's hounds). All manner of people are portrayed - represented among others by the Doge, a Turk, a nun, and a mother and child, a symbol of Christian charity - so that the viewer, whether rich or poor, could identify with them.