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

View of the main hall

Villa Baglioni, Massanzago

The frescoes decorating the main hall of the villa in Massanzago in the Province of Padua were attributed until the 1980s to various eighteenth-century painters, such as Jacopo Guarana, Giovanni Battista Crosato or Giambattista Pittoni. However, it turned out that the frescoes are the early works by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. Obvious stylistic and iconographic similarities between these frescoes and other early Tiepolo works were pointed out.

The work at the Villa Baglioni began immediately after the wealthy Venetian publisher Giambattista Baglioni acquired in 1718 the seventeenth-century villa in Massanzago. The frescoes cover the entire wall surface of the main hall, illusionistically breaking through the walls and creating a boundless space, thanks to the faux architectural structure conceived by Girolamo Mengozzi Colonna, who henceforth would be Tiepolo's most frequent collaborator, working on almost all of his large-scale decorative projects in Venice and the Veneto.

The theme of the frescoes is the Myth of Phaethon, based on Ovid's Metamorphoses. The principal episode, Phaethon Asking His Father to Let Him Drive the Chariot of Sun, is staged on the east wall. The opposite wall is divided into two parts by the doors that lead into the hall from the monumental staircase. The right portion of the wall contains the Fall of Phaethon, the left part shows the Heliads, sisters of Phaethon. The frescoes on the short walls depict monochrome figures of the Four Regions of the World. The ceiling, which opens up to a faux sky, contains a depiction of The Triumph of Aurora.

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