First of the New

Tiepolo The Banquet of Cleopatra 1743-50

“On the eve of his departure from Venice for the royal court in Spain in 1762, at the age of 66, Giambattista Tiepolo told a reporter from a local newspaper, the Nuova Veneta Gazzetta: “Painters should strive to succeed in creating great works, that is those that can please noble lords and the rich because these make the fortunes of masters — and not other people, who cannot buy pictures of great value. So the painter’s mind must always aim at the sublime, the heroic and for perfection.”
This was a rare spoken record of Tiepolo’s artistic credo, but it was one that had guided his whole life and made it possible for him to realize masterpieces on a stupendous scale.” [Roderick Conway Morris on Tiepolo]

Tiepolo Allegoria Nuziale di Ludovico Rezzonico e Faustina Savorgnan 1758

“… Calasso observes that “while it is doubtful that the cause of the proletariat was dear to his heart,” Longhi out of political conviction insisted on the term reality as an arbiter of artistic success, “and always with the idea that modernism must be, by vocation, something grim and ‘workaday’”—rather than, we assume, airy and easeful, and ever informed by the spirit of sprezzatura. Calasso sees himself agreeing with Longhi that Tiepolo was the last of a glorious line, but for Longhi Tiepolo was “the weak link … the reprobate whose aberrant style heralded the lamentable end of a superb history.” While Longhi claimed Caravaggio as the first painter of the modern age, Calasso on the contrary insists that “in retrospect the only painter who could have had a claim to be the first of the forefathers of ‘modern life’ was none other than Tiepolo.” [John Banville on Tiepolo Pink by Roberto Calasso]

Tiepolo Nobility and Virtue defeating Wickedness 1744-45

“Yet delightful as Longhi, Canale, and Guardi are, and imbued with the spirit of their own century, they lack the quality of force, without which there can be no impressive style. This quality their contemporary Tiepolo possessed to the utmost. His energy, his feeling for splendor, his mastery over his craft, place him almost on a level with the great Venetians of the sixteenth century, although he never allows one to forget what he owes to them, particularly to Veronese. The grand scenes he paints differ from those of his predecessor not so much in inferiority of workmanship, as in a lack of that simplicity and candor which never failed Paolo, no matter how proud the event he might be portraying…. Paolo saw a world barely touched by the fashions of the Spanish Court, while Tiepolo lived among people whose very hearts had been vitiated by its measureless haughtiness. 
But Tiepolos feeling for strength, for movement, and for color was great enough to give a new impulse to art. At times he seems not so much the last of the old masters as the first of the new. The works he left in Spain do more than a little to explain the revival of painting in that country under Goya; and Goya, in his turn, had a great influence upon many of the best French artists of recent times. [Berenson on Teipolo]

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