Death of Seneca
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Giovanni Battista Tiepolo ( Venice 1697 - Madrid 1770 )
Giambattista (Giovanni Battista) was the most brilliant and sought after Italian painter of the 18th century, and represents the ultimate achievement of the Venetian tradition of decorative painting in the Grand Manner. He also painted numerous large-scale oil paintings, a wide repertory of oil sketches, and was an accomplished draughtsman and a successful and original etcher (Capricci and Scherzi di fantasia). He had been trained in Venice in the workshop of Gregorio Lazzarini and brought up to admire the achievements of the great Venetian Renaissance masters, above all Tintoretto and Veronese. Thus he was not inhibited by the more restrained classical tradition of ancient Rome and the legacy of the Renaissance, Baroque, and Neoclassical artists active there, from Raphael and Michelangelo to Pietro da Cortona and Mengs. Yet through his interest in prints he was well aware of the inventive imagery of a wide range of 17th-century Baroque artists active outside Venice, including the Genoese Castiglione, Salvator Rosa, Stefano della Bella, and Rembrandt, all of whom exercised a strong influence on the range of his visual vocabulary. Through rhetorical gesture and facial expression, a theatrical sense of composition and design, and an imaginative appreciation of the physical context in which his work would be seen, Tiepolo became extremely successful at projecting narrative and telling a story with dramatic effect, whether of religious or secular subject matter. Above all he could enrich and embellish historical and mythological themes by transforming them into poetic fiction, in a manner comparable to an opera by Gluck or Handel. Invariably, in his response both to the natural world and the artistic tradition he inherited, he displayed a sense of fantasy and humour and an exhilarating feeling of joy that had been conspicuous by its absence from so much art of the preceding Baroque era.