Giovanni Battista Tiepolo - inv. 312

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696-1770)

Joshua Stops the Sun
1737 c.
28,5 x 71,8 cm
1898 acquisition 
Inv. 312

18th Century Venetian Room
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Acquired from Giuseppe Bertini in 1898, the painting shows slight signs of surface wear.
Painted in monochrome on a golden background, the subject shows the biblical episode of Joshua who asks the sun to halt its course so that the battle of Gibeon can be won before night falls.

The painting reveals all the drama of the scene. On the left a horseman pierces an adversary with his long lance. The rearing horse and his rider's position, both seen from the back, help to render the scene even more dynamic. On the right, instead, Joshua on horseback, wearing a classical-style helmet, raises his hand towards the sun.

The purpose of this painting is not known. It perhaps decorated the rooms of a nobleman's house; most probably it was an overdoor and accompanied by other paintings, unknown to us, that depicted other scenes from the Old Testament. The concise flowing style, typical of sketches, is to be noted, often used by Tiepolo even in his finished works. The warm-toned colour and vibrant line are further characteristics.

Scholars are unanimous in recognising the canvas as a work by the great Venetian artist. The unusual development of the scene on a single foreground and similarities with frescoes painted in Sant'Ambrogio during Tiepolo's stay in Milan in 1737, allow the work to be dated to that period. At that time, Tiepolo was already an acclaimed international artist.