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Sacred Eloquence

Giambattista Tiepolo and the Rhetoric of the Altarpiece

Series:

Johanna Fassl

This book offers an innovative approach to the altarpieces of Giambattista Tiepolo (1696-1770) by discussing them within the intellectual context of the first half of the eighteenth century. Tiepolo occupies a particular position in the history of art: firmly embedded in the eighteenth century, he is one of the last great painters of the classical tradition, and, at the same time, one of the precursors of modernity.
Why has Tiepolo’s religious art often been misunderstood? How can the abbreviation and absence of key symbols in the images be explained and why is this rhetoric of absence so utterly modern? Deliberately concentrating on what is not painted, rather than what is in the picture, the book deals with Tiepolo’s lacunism as an eighteenth-century phenomenon anticipating modernity. It discusses four different forms of rhetoric: iconic, narrative, silent, and visionary. Each discourse calibrates the images within their contemporary religious and philosophical context, which promote this type of rhetoric as highly innovative.

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List of Illustrations 19

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List of Illustrations COLOR PLATES 1. Giambattista Tiepolo, The Power of Eloquence, 1724-25, Ca’ Sandi, Venice. 2. Giambattista Tiepolo, The Family of Darius before Alexander, 1743-44, Villa Cordellina, Montecchio Maggiore. 3. Giambattista Tiepolo, Maecenas Presenting the Arts to Augustus, ca. 1743-44, The Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg. 4. Giambattista Tiepolo, The Rest on the Flight into Egypt, ca. 1745, SS. Massimo e Osvaldo, Padua. 5. Giambattista Tiepolo, The Martyrdom of Saint Agatha, ca. 1755, Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin. 6. Giambattista Tiepolo, The Martyrdom of Saint Agatha, 1736-37, Museum of the Basilica of Sant’Antonio, Padua. 7. Giambattista Tiepolo, The Flagellation, ca. 1736, Sant’Alvise, Venice. 8. Giambattista Tiepolo, The Crowning with Thorns, ca. 1736, Sant’Alvise, Venice. 9. Giambattista Tiepolo, The Way to Calvary, 1735-36, Sant’Alvise, Venice. 10. Giambattista Tiepolo, The Crowning with Thorns, ca. 1736, Sant’Alvise, Venice. Detail. 11. Giambattista Tiepolo, The Last Communion of Saint Lucy, ca. 1748-49, Santi Apostoli, Venice. Sacred Eloquence 20 12. Giambattista Tiepolo, Martyrdom of Saint Lucy, ca. 1748, Pinaco- teca del Castello Sforzesco, Milan. 13. Giambattista Tiepolo, Death of Hyacinth, ca. 1753, Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid. 14. Giambattista Tiepolo, The Sacrifice of Iphigenia, ca. 1757, Villa Valmarana, Vicenza. 15. Giambattista Tiepolo, The Vision of Saint John Nepomuk, 1754, San Polo, Venice. 16. Giambattista Tiepolo, The Vision of Saint Roch, ca. 1730-35, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Besançon. FIGURES 1. Giambattista Tiepolo, The Power of Eloquence, ca. 1724, Cour- tauld Galleries, Princess Gate Collection, London. 2. Giambattista Tiepolo, The Power of Eloquence, 1724-25,...

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