Ca' Rezzonico

Ca' Rezzonico

TIEPOLO. Drawings from the Museo Correr Collection.

Exhibitions, Tours, Publications and Studies

Venice, 3 September 2004 – 9 February 2005


Tiepolo, Ironia e Comico
Fondazione Giorgio Cini – Sala Carnelutti
Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice
3 September – 5 December 2004
An interesting collection of some 150 drawings and paintings that reveal how both Giambattista and Giandomenico raised the technique of caricature to the highest levels of artistic expression. Some of the drawings are dedicated to contemporary life, which is depicted with an eye for the grotesque; others concentrate on the figure of Pulcinella, a sort of personification of the Common Man which reveals the bitter ironies of History. There are also a number of caricatures of stock figures – in which Giandomenico takes up the models developed by his father. These can all be seen alongside various caricatures by Anton Maria Zanetti the Elder, plus important paintings by Giandomenico and Giambattista Tiepolo and other artists of eighteenth-century Venice (some of these have never before been on show in Italy). The works have been lent by various museums and collectors in Italy and abroad, and include a noteworthy collection of twenty-two drawings from the Metropolitan Museum of New York.

The Tiepolo. Engravings from the Museo Correr collections.
Ca’ Rezzonico, second floor
15 decembre 2004 – 9 February 2005
33 plates, never exhibited before, together with their respective engravings.


Church of San Polo, Oratory of the Crucified Christ
Early Work: The Stations of the Cross
The first known work by Giandomenico alone, this is also the first painting of this subject in Venice – which in part explains the extraordinary originality of the composition, with its tense, relentless narrative drama. In almost all the scenes, the individual figures seems to be overwhelmed by a crowd which, though faceless and almost formless, serves to highlight the profound human resonance of the tragedy of Christ. His figure is the centre of each composition; and his bare suffering flesh is often in deliberate contrast with the opulent garments of the others present. Unlike his father, Giandomenico was an artist profoundly influenced by the world he saw around him; and in his religious paintings this leads to a sense of absolute moral empathy. The means of expression ‘embody’ the subject matter; and here, in the tragic story of Christ’s progress to Calvary, Giandomenico endows each brushstroke with drama.

Ca’ Rezzonico, Second Floor
The Frescoes from the Villa of Zianigo
The Zianigo frescoes are exceptional for two main reasons. Firstly, because they are the products of complete artistic freedom (having been not painted for a patron but for Tiepolo himself) and secondly because they were produced over a long period of time, from 1759 to 1797. This latter fact means that in this single cycle one can follow the development of Giandomenico’s art, from the youthful works that are still strongly influenced by his father to the more intensely personal forms of expression that emerged later. For all the variety of themes treated, there is a substantial unity here, revealing the artist’s ideas with regard to both culture and human psychology. From the very dawn of civilisation up to his own day, Tiepolo sees man engaged in a futile struggle to construct History, the end result of which is nothing but a fabric of make-believe involving grandeur and suffering. Mythological creatures, monsters and heroes (who are no different to Pulcinella) live and die, trying to make sense of what has no sense (for all that magicians and astrologists may strive to show the opposite). History culminates in the vacuous figure of a dandy, whilst an expectant eye is cast towards the equally illusory horizon of the New World.