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Sacred Eloquence

Giambattista Tiepolo and the Rhetoric of the Altarpiece


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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Appendix 2 337


Appendices 337 Appendix 2 ASV, S. Alvise, B.38 (Quaderno di spese) Gennaio 1735[2] Per spese di Palazzo, et per l’Officio e messa della spina 42. – Spesi nell’imprimidura de quadri, doradura delle soa- ze, et colorine di Cappella 102. – Donati da D.M:a Candida Canal Abbaddessa Cechini n.100 Quali sono stati per la faccitura del quadro fatto dal Sig:or Angelo Trevisan 354. – 2 1736, as the Venetian calendar year began on 1 March.

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