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

Apollo and the Continents (Asia, obelisk group)

Stairwell of the Residenz, Würzburg

The meaning of the various individual figures in the so-called obelisk group, which conceals a complex symbolic language, has not yet been sufficiently explained. The female figure in the yellow coat in front of the pyramid is often interpreted as the personification of Princedom, while the old man with the hat behind the hieroglyphic stone seems to be a sage. The symbol of the snake entwined around a rod reminds us of the staff of Aesculapius and refers to the art of medicine. The composition of the scene is highly reminiscent of Tiepolo's Capricci series of prints of 1743, or of the Scherzi di fantasia, which followed a few years later.

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