Giovanni Battista Tiepolo - inv. 309
This small painting, acquired from G. Bertini in 1898, is in a good state of conservation, despite the oxidised paint covering the whole surface.
Two fluted columns create the background to the picture. With a cross in his right hand and a book in his left, Saint Cajetan is seated on a thick cloud with almost iridescent effects; he is flanked by an angel and a putto. Saint John the Baptist is on the left with a sheep at his side; Saint Anthony Abbot stands on the right with his characteristic attributes – the long stick and, in the lower corner, a pig, whose face alone can be seen.
A complex play of gazes unites the three protagonists of the painting and draws in the spectator: Cajetan raises his eyes skywards; the Baptist’s face is turned towards the saint on high; Anthony turns to look directly at the spectator.
Given the iconographic subject of the saint in glory and the composition of the work, it is possible to assume that the painting was a sketch for a never-realised, or now lost, altarpiece. Scholars date the work between 1740 and 1745.
One of the most sensitive of 18th-century painters, Tiepolo learnt from the great masters of the Venetian 16th-century school, especially Veronese, who he reinterpreted in his own way, picking up on the former’s intensely luminous colour associations which would then replace, in his artistic maturity, a palette of dark ‘mysterious’ colours.