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

Last Communion of St Lucy

Oil on canvas, 222 x 101 cm
Santi Apostoli, Venice

Still further proof of Tiepolo's extraordinarily eclectic talents comes from the fact that at the same period that he was working on the breathtakingly secular spectacle of the frescos in Palazzo Labia, he also painted his most religiously intense Venetian altarpiece. In no sense did he compromise the clear sobriety of the architecture nor the brilliance of his palette. Indeed they seem to underline the sadness of the scene.

With arms crossed, St Lucy kneels before a priest to receive the last communion. Her half closed eyes and the elegiac expression on her face hint at her later fate. The priests and secular dignitaries who surround her wear magnificent robes, whose beautifully rendered material and brilliant colours are of particular intensity. The scene takes place in front of an imposing palace, upon whose balustrade Tiepolo has again placed spectators. While the bloody knife and the platter with the gouged-out eyes in the foreground are a drastic reminder of the impending martyrdom, the heads of angels which hover over the saint announce her entry into the Kingdom of Heaven.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.