Italian painter. He was one of the first exponents of Italian rococo and created monumental decorative schemes in palaces and churches in northeastern Italy, southwestern Germany, and Madrid. His style is light-hearted, his colours light and warm, and he made great play with illusion.
He painted religious and, above all, historical or allegorical pictures. With immense virtuosity and a quality of colour entirely his own, he covered the walls and ceilings of many villas and palaces in Venice and elsewhere in northern Italy, the series of Antony and Cleopatra (Palazzo Labia) being the high point. The decoration of the Villa S Sebastiano at Malmarana, near Vicenza, 1737, with scenes from the Iliad, Orlando furioso, and Gerusalemme liberata, is another of his many important works in Italy.
In 1751 he went to Würzburg, Germany, to decorate the Prince Archbishop's Palace, being assisted by his sons, Giovanni Domenico (1727–1802) and Lorenzo (1736–before 1776). The finest examples of his work there include scenes from the life of Frederick Barbarossa. In 1755 he was elected president of the Venetian Academy and in 1762 was invited to Spain by Charles III. He worked there until 1770, carrying out a scheme of decoration for the Palacio Real, and painting altarpieces for S Pasquale in Aranjuez. These were later replaced by pictures by the neoclassicist Anton Mengs, his competitor and opponent in style.
Tiepolo studied under the minor painter, Gregorio Lazzarini, but the source of his light and fanciful rococo style may be found in Sebastiano Ricci. Influenced also by Giuseppe Crespi (1665–1747) and Giovanni Piazzetta (1683–1754) in such early works as the Sacrifice of Isaac about 1715–16 (Ospedaletto, Venice) and his paintings in the church of the Scalzi, he shed their dark effects of chiaroscuro to attain a luminous and aerial atmosphere in which he rivals Veronese, who also led him to cover vast wall spaces with sumptuous effects of architecture and splendidly attired groups of figures. His drawings (many in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London) are also of exceptional brilliance.
Tiepolo married Cecilia Guardi, the sister of the painter Francesco Guardi, 1719. Of their two sons the more notable as an artist was Giovanni Domenico. He assisted and imitated his father, and in his later years produced some original and satiric scenes of Italian comedy and Venetian life.
Tiepolo, Giovanni Battista Allegory of Castile
Tiepolo, Giovanni Battista Apotheosis of the Spanish Monarchy
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