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

The Vision of St Anne

Oil on canvas, 244 x 120 cm
Gemäldegalerie, Dresden

The Vision of St Anne was painted in 1759 for the church of Santa Chiara at the Benedictine monastery in Cividale, Friuli. The building can be made out in the small image in the background, together with the Santuario di Castelmonte and the old bridge over the River Natisone. The painting was removed from the church in 1810 and finally came to the Gemäldegalerie, Dresden in 1914 through auction.

In this strongly vertical composition, Tiepolo develops three distinct levels, one above the other: kneeling at the front is St Anne, who holds out her arms while gazing up to heaven; her husband, Joachim, who is shown behind a balustrade with his hands folded in prayer, looks in the same direction. Borne aloft on a cloud by angels, the young Mary is suspended above them. She too looks up to heaven and God the Father, who appears there leaning on the globe with his arms outstretched.

Tiepolo shows us here the full glory of his light palette, most especially in the area centring on the Virgin, which is charged with light. His rational working methods — no doubt first tested in frescoes — speak from his technique of applying areas of colour approximately and then heightening them with his draughtsman's eye using black lines. Tiepolo's virtuoso methods make this visionary work utterly convincing.

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