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

The Scourge of the Serpents (detail)

Oil on canvas, 164 x 1356 cm (complete frieze)
Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

During the 1720s Giambattista Tiepolo developed a new colouristic style of painting derived in principle from the dazzling palette of Veronese and the no less brilliant one of Sebastiano Ricci. Rejecting the tenebrous colour of Piazzetta, we witness in Tiepolo the triumph of colour with a richness of resonance and counterpoint elaborated within the ordered and monumental composition. The great frieze, originally below the choir of the Venetian church of SS. Cosma and Damiani on the Giudecca (Zanetti 1771), is a fine example of Tiepolo's work of the 1730s. The painting in its ornate stucco frame decorated with fruit, flowers and leaves is over 13 metres long. Three episodes are depicted with a decorative illusionism contrasting with the declared realist-narrative intent, rendering the painting somewhat melodramatic effect.

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