Giovanni Battista Tiepolo - inv. 311

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696-1770)

Glory of All Saints
46,7 x 29,2 cm
1879 bequest Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli
Inv. 311

18th Century Venetian Room
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The painting is in an excellent state of conservation.

It is a sketch for the high altar painting in the Church of Ognissanti di Rovetta  (Bergamo) finished in 1734.

The composition of the painting is divided into two parts: in the top the virgin is suspended among the clouds, flanked by angels and putti with palm leaves and flowers; in the lower part saints assist at the event. In the background there is part of a fluted column.

There are, however, some differences between the sketch and the altarpiece in Rovetta. In the first place the shape of the canvas: in the former it is arched, in the latter rectangular. Furthermore, the symbol of the Trinity (three concentric circles) present in the sketch has been replaced in the definitive version by the figure of the Virgin. In the sketch, in the top right, representatives of the main monastic orders are visible: Saints Francis, Benedict and Dominic. While in the lower part, which has remained virtually unchanged, we recognise Saints Peter, Paul, Gregory the Great (?), Andrew and John the Baptist, with the kneeling figure of Saint Louis of France in the background.

The many differences between sketch and final work indicate that perhaps the patrons of the work themselves took an active part in finalising its subject matter.

The sketch dates to 1733-1734. Compared to contemporary works by the Venetian painter, distinguished for their brilliant light colours and diffused luminosity, here Tiepolo seems to have taken a step backwards in preferring darker tones and strong contrasts in light and shade that articulate the composition on various levels.