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Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

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Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

Italian, (1696–1770)
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (March 5, 1696 - March 27, 1770) was a prolific Venetian painter and printmaker who painted in the French Rococo style. Tiepolo is considered to be an important member of the 18th-century Venetian school of painting, and one of the traditional Old Masters of his generation.

Born in Venice, Tiepolo’s earliest known works are depictions of the apostles as part of the 1715 decoration of the church of the Ospedaletto in Venice. At about the same time he became painter to the Doge, Giovanni II Cornaro, and oversaw the hanging of pictures at his palace, as well as painting many works himself, of which only two portraits have been identified. His art celebrates the imagination by transposing the world of ancient history and myth, the scriptures, and sacred legends into a grandiose, even theatrical language. His art, with its genial departures from convention and its brilliant use of costumed splendor, celebrates the notion of artistic caprice (capriccio) and fantasy (fantasia). Battista elevated the informal oil sketch to that of a primary art form worthy of being collected alongside his finished paintings. Tiepolo’s greatest works are unquestionably the frescoed ceilings he carried out for churches in Venice and villas and palaces in Italy, Germany (Residenz, Würzburg), and Spain (Palacio Real, Madrid).

During the 19th-century, connoisseurs and critics rejected Tiepolo, along with the Baroque and Rococo styles in general. He was considered an unhealthy and bizarre genius. But the change in taste brought about by Impressionism late in the century prepared the way for the rediscovery of the great Venetian. Generations of critics in Italy and elsewhere have worked to reconstruct his enormous pictorial output and to reassemble his prodigious mass of quick sketches and brilliant etchings.

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