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Olympus or The Triumph of Venus
Tiepolo, Giovanni Battista
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Tiepolo, Giovanni Battista

Venice (Italy), 1696 - Madrid (Italy), 1770

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Olympus or The Triumph of Venus

1761 - 1764. Oil on canvas.
Not on display

This is a sketch for a no-longer extant painting on canvas intended to decorate a ceiling in a building of the imperial court of Russia, whose memory is preserved in an engraving made by Giambattista´s youngest son Lorenzo. The engraving forms a set with another three, two of which were also made by Lorenzo, on the basis of original works by his father, as part of the same commission. The engravings thus reproduce four paintings, now unknown, that were executed for the mansion of Count Mikhail Vorontzov, chancellor of the imperial court, according to Artemieva (1998), one of which, Mars and the Three Graces (or Mars resting) was seen by Sack at the beginning of the 20th century (1910) in the Chinese Palace in Oranienbaum, on the outskirts of St Petersburg. The Prado sketch is therefore the only one that remains of the group. The other two depicted The Magnificence of Princes and The Triumph of Hercules. The final works were sent to the capital in summer 1759. Venus is portrayed on the left, reclining in a chariot pulled by doves. On the right, amid the clouds, are the three Graces and beneath them, also on the right, Minerva and Cronos contemplate their triumphal passage while Mercury swoops down from above. The bold architectural foreshortening in the lower left area -partially occupied by a parrot- creates an illusionary effect of continuity between earth and heaven. The absence of all the other deities of Olympus and the privileged position given to the god of love lead the scene shown in this work to be interpreted as the triumph of Venus. The rich range of colours is based on grey, yellow, blue and green tones and is illuminated by the patches of colour created by the crimson of the messenger of the gods´ helmet and by the red and green plumage of the bird. It should not be forgotten that Tiepolo worked on a painting for the ceiling of a Moscow palace, as he tells in a letter sent to Francesco Algarotti from Venice (16 March 1761) in which he complains of being overwhelmed by his many commitments. The mention that he was still working on a large painting for a ceiling of the court of Moscow appears to be a reference to Empress Elizabeth Petrovna, for whom Tiepolo was painting in 1760 -with a style more characteristic of Rosalba Carriera- half-size figures of women´s capriccios. Ernst´s hypothesis (1963) that the figure of Venus conceals the portrait of the tsarina herself, known through a contemporary engraving, is unique and stems from the aristocrat´s desire to pay tribute to the sovereign´s beauty. The painting recalls the illusionary backdrops of ceiling paintings in the Villa Valmarana in Vicenza and Ca´ Rezzonico in Venice, and of a now destroyed painting in the Palazzo Canossa in Verona. A notable feature is the simplicity of the composition which, according to Pallucchini (1968), with few figures allows the master to gently draw a perfect wandering line and to plunge the images into a vibrant atmosphere, into a light which penetrates the forms without any violence. Nor can it be said that Gaya Nuño (1961) exaggerates when fully savouring Tiepolo´s irresistible attraction in the small Prado painting: that drawing [...] masterfully vibrant yet confident, sketches each limb, each line and cloud with infinite delicacy [...]; the faint and light colour, like that of dawn, creates in any work by Tiepolo, and even in a simple sketch like this one, an almost superhuman sensation of a fresh spring morning (Text drawn from Luna, J. J.: From Titian to Goya. Great Masters of the Museo del Prado, National Art Museum of China-Shanghai Museum, 2007, p. 376).

Technical data

Inventory number
Tiepolo, Giovanni Battista
Olympus or The Triumph of Venus
1761 - 1764
Height: 87 cm; Width: 61.5 cm
Royal Collection

Bibliography +

Sánchez Cantón, Francisco Javier (1891-1971)), J. B. Tiepolo en España /, Instituto Diego Velázquez., Madrid, 1953.

Morassi, Antonio, A complete catalogue of the paintings of G.B. Tiepolo: inclu, Phaidon Press, Londres, 1962, pp. 21/ lám.341.

Tüngel, Richard, 400 Jahre Kunst, Kultur, und Geschichte im Prado, Schweizer Verlagshaus, Zurich, 1964, pp. 218/ lám.126.

Piovene, Guido, L'Opera Completa Di Giambattista Tiepolo, Rizzoli, Milan, 1968.

Rizzi, A., Mostra del Tiepolo. Dipinti, Electa, Venecia, 1971, pp. 155.

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 680.

Gianbattista Tiepolo. L'Etat Zephireen, Musee Matisse, Niza, 1987.

Anatra, Bruno, Venezia e la Spagna, Electa, Milan, 1988, pp. 231/ lám.249.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas (I) La Colección Real, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990, pp. nº1183.

Romanelli, G., Venedigs Ruhm Im Norden. Die Grosen Venezianischen Maler des, Niedersachsisches Landesmuseum Hann, Hannover, 1991.

Brown, Beverly Louise, Giambattista Tiepolo. Master of the Oil Sketch, Electa, Milan, 1993.

Christiansen, Keith, Giambattista Tiepolo 1690-1770, Harry N.Abrams, New York, 1996, pp. 248/ lám.416.

El triunfo de Venus: la imagen de la mujer en la pintura ven, Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, Barcelona, 1997, pp. 242.

Úbeda de los Cobos, A., Lorenzo Tiépolo, Museo Nacional del Prado. Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid, 1999, pp. 98.

The Majesty of Spain. Royal Collections From the Museo del P, Mississipi Commission For Internati, Jackson,Mississipi, 2001, pp. 62.

Pedrocco, Filippo, Giambattista Tiepolo, Gruppo Skira, Milano, 2002, pp. 308.

De Tiziano a Goya. Obras maestras del Museo del Prado., Tokio - Osaka, 2006.

De Tiziano a Goya: grandes maestros del Museo del Prado, Museo Nacional del Prado: SEACEX, Madrid, 2007, pp. 265.

Maurer, G., Goya: lo bello y lo recóndito. En: La belleza encerrada: de Fra Angelico a Fortuny, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2013, pp. 357.

Mena Marqués, M.; Albarrán, V., La belleza encerrada: de Fra Angelico a Fortuny, folleto, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2013, pp. 44 n.197.

Mena Marqués, M.; Albarrán, V., Azúa, F. de, La belleza cautiva. Pequeños tesoros del Museo del Prado, Museo del Prado - Obra Social ''La Caixa'', Barcelona, 2014, pp. 163.

Prado captive beauty: treasures from the Prado Museum, Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, 2015, pp. n.70.

Carlos III y el Madrid de las Luces, Ayuntamiento de Madrid,, Madrid, 2017, pp. 131.

Lissoni, E, ' Giambattista Tiepolo. Trionfo di Venere' En:, Tiepolo: Venezia, Milano, l´Europa, Edizioni Gallerie d´Italia: Skira,, 2020, pp. 280 nº 56.

Other inventories +

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 1183.
Tiepolo (Juan Bautista) / 1183. Boceto de un techo. / Venus está en su carro abrazada por Cupido, y sobre algunos grupos de nubes hay varias figuras mitológicas. / Alto 3 pies, 1 pulg; ancho 2 pies, 2 pulg, 6 lin.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 183.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1910. Núm. 365.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 365.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 409.

Inscriptions +

Inscribed in red color. Front, lower left corner

Exhibitions +

Giambattista Tiepolo. Venezia, Milano, Dresda, Madrid. Dagli anni della formazione all’affermazione internazionale
29.10.2020 - 02.05.2021

Carlos III y el Madrid de las luces
13.12.2016 - 29.04.2017

Captive Beauty. Treasures from The Prado Museum
10.10.2015 - 31.01.2016

Captive Beauty. Small Treasures at the Prado Museum
16.07.2014 - 05.01.2015

Captive Beauty. Fra Angelico to Fortuny
21.05.2013 - 10.11.2013

From Titian to Goya. Great Masters from the Museo del Prado
13.09.2007 - 12.11.2007

From Titian to Goya. Great Masters from the Museo del Prado
29.06.2007 - 24.08.2007

De Tiziano a Goya. Obras maestras del Museo del Prado
14.07.2006 - 15.10.2006

De Tiziano a Goya. Obras maestras del Museo del Prado
24.03.2006 - 02.07.2006

Tha majesty of spain. Royal collections from the Museo del Prado & patrimonio nacional (La majestad de España)
Jackson MS
01.03.2001 - 03.09.2001

El triunfo de Venus
18.11.1997 - 22.02.1998

Giambattista Tiepolo; Master of the oil sketch
Fort Worth
18.09.1993 - 12.12.1993

La gloria de Venecia en el Norte
16.02.1992 - 10.05.1992

La gloria de Venecia en el Norte
03.12.1991 - 02.02.1992

Giambattista Tiepolo
03.07.1987 - 30.09.1987

Update date: 09-04-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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