Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (workshop of) - inv. 310
The painting was carefully restored in 1990.
The composition is divided into two parts. In the upper part the Virgin, among clouds, is sustained by three angels; she holds a rosary in her right hand and her belt in her left. In the lower part, four saints are standing on a floor painted in perspective. Three can be recognised: Saint Nicholas of Tolentino, with a bright star on his breast; Saint Monica dressed as a nun, the protector of the Augustinians; and her son Saint Augustine in bishop’s attire, his cope embroidered with figures of the saints. The saint kneeling on the base of a column on the left with a chalice in his hand has not been identified with complete certainty. Most probably, as the scapular over his shoulders and the Augustinian habit might indicate, he is Saint Cajetan of Thiene.
The presence of a number of saints from the Augustinian Order has led to the belief that the work was painted for a convent or church of this congregation. The whole painting is bathed in a warm, golden light. The expression on Saint Augustine’s face, turned towards the spectator to involve him in the scene, is very intense. The two parts of the composition are linked by the gazes between the angel looking downwards and the two saints turned upwards.
The work is datable to about 1730, but the attribution is difficult. It was probably a workshop painting produced under the supervision of Tiepolo himself by one of his assistants, whose name, though, we do not know.
Tiepolo is one of the most highly-regarded painters of the 18th century. His early work in dark tones, full of dramatic moments and strong contrasts of light, softens into more serene and luminous compositions. His skill and mastery of perspective effects permitted him to paint compositions in which the figures seem to challenge the force of gravity.