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

View of the stairwell

Residenz, Würzburg

From this vantage point the viewer sees the representation of the personification of Europe for the first time, whereas the other Continents and the centre of the heavens cannot be seen. Neither can the actual dimensions of the hall be recognized until higher up.

The splendid staircase is itself an architectural masterpiece by the designer Balthasar Neumann, and provides an artistic setting for the ceremonial path followed by the visitor from the entrance to the Residence up to the Imperial Hall on the first floor. The visitor arrives at the foot of the stairs by way of a dimlylit vestibule, whose shallow vault creates an impression of heaviness. Here, he catches his first glimpse of the brighter area of the upper storeys overhead. The first flight of stairs brings him to a mezzanine landing, where he must change direction and take either of the two sets of stairs, to the left or to the right, which ascend to the next level. Having arrived on the upper floor, he is overwhelmed by the enormous extent of a great room which is spanned by a single giant cove vault, without further supports. The stairwell, whose large, uninterrupted ceiling surface stood entirely at Tiepolo's disposal, is a technically brilliant achievement for its time.

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