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The Agony in the Garden
Tiepolo, Giovanni Domenico
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Tiepolo, Giovanni Domenico

Venice (Italy), 1727 - Venice (Italy), 1804

See author's file

The Agony in the Garden

1772. Oil on canvas.
Not on display

The Agony in the Garden, painted by Giovanni Domenico (Giandomenico) Tiepolo as part of a commission from the fathers of the convent of San Felipe Neri de Madrid, is one scene in a series of eight depicting the Stations of the Cross. The series would have decorated the church´s aisles, the usual location for representations of scenes from Christ´s Passion, with a painting or sculpture of the Crucifixion occupying the high altar. The first four scenes -The Agony in the Garden, The Crown of Thorns, The Flagellation of Christ and The Disrobing of Christ- present figures whose actions or gazes are directed toward the left, presumably in the direction of the high altar, suggesting all were hung on the same wall. In the other four -Christ falls on the way to Calvary, The Crucifixion, The Descent from the Cross, and The Burial of Christ- the figures face toward the right, presumably for the same reason.

These images must have hung relatively high, since the artist, aware of their intended location, took into account the steeper angle of the viewer´s gaze and slightly distorted the figures´ proportions to make allowances for the oblique perspective. Giandomenico Tiepolo arrived in Spain in 1762, accompanying his brother Lorenzo and his father Giovanni Battista (Giambattista), who had been called to Madrid by Charles III to decorate the ceilings of the new Royal Palace with frescoes, as well as other important commissions. Giandomenico returned to Venice upon his father´s death in Madrid in 1770, though he remained tied to Spain through his brother, who stayed on in the capital until his death in 1776. In iconographic terms, The Agony in the Garden is the first scene corresponding to the Gospel passages that narrate Christ´s moment of seclusion in the garden at the Mount of Olives, or Gethsemane, after the Last Supper with the apostles and before His arrest by the temple guards sent by the Sanhedrin. Tiepolo has placed all the concentrated emotion of Christ´s last prayer before His Passion and death in the two principal figures, yet he has also described with intensity, and very modern realism, the solitary surroundings, the wooden fence that marks the edge of the garden, the stormy sky that shows the first hints of dawn and the full moon signalling the Jewish feast of the Passover that Jesus had just celebrated with His disciples. One of the three who had accompanied Him to the garden -probably Saint Peter, as the leader of the future Church- lies sleeping in the background. Tiepolo depicts St Luke´s Gospel, in which Jesus, feeling the anguish of His impending death, sweats drops of blood, and asks God to let the cup of His suffering pass away from Him, a reference evoked by the goblet held by the angel who has come to comfort Him. Giandomenico Tiepolo´s unmistakable style -the idealised beauty of his human figures and the lively movement of the drapery- derives from the dramatic and luminous aesthetic of the late Baroque, an aesthetic exemplified by his father Giambattista. Yet, unlike his father, in the last third of the eighteenth century Giandomenico led his own painting in the direction of a more modern interest in the representation of human sentiment, with figures that seem to be affected by a kind of languid emotion. This new idea was perfectly defined in the aesthetic principles of the German literary movement known as Sturm und Drang (Storm and Stress), principles which may likewise be applied to the field of painting. Thus, the intimate expression of emotion is now manifested in extreme representations that freely reveal sentiment, as opposed to the rationalism and restraint that had prevailed in the Enlightenment and reached its culmination in the visual arts with Neoclassicism.

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from The Prado, Queensland Art Gallery, 2012, p.130-131, nº26


Technical data

Inventory number
Tiepolo, Giovanni Domenico
The Agony in the Garden
Height: 125 cm; Width: 142 cm
Serie de la Pasión de Cristo para San Felipe Neri (Madrid)
Convent of San Felipe Neri, of the Philippian Oratorians, formerly Professed House of Saint Francis Borgia, of the Jesuits, Madrid; Convent of Santa Teresa, Madrid; adquired in 1875.

Bibliography +

Mariuz, Adriano, Giandomenico Tiepolo, Alfieri, Venecia, 1965, pp. 232.

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

Knox, George, Giambattista and Domenico Tiepolo. Vol. I. Text, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1980, pp. 305.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 682.

Anatra, Bruno, Venezia e la Spagna, Electa, Milan, 1988, pp. 244/lám. 263.

Bettagno, Alessandro, El Museo del Prado, Fonds Mercator Fundación Amigos del Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1996, pp. 310.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado. Inventario general de pinturas (III). Nuevas Adquisiciones. Museo Iconográfico. Tapices., Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1996.

Luna, Juan José, Pintura europea del siglo XVIII: guía, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1997, pp. 145-148.

The Majesty of Spain. Royal Collections From the Museo del P, Mississipi Commission For Internati, Jackson,Mississipi, 2001, pp. 66.

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from The Prado, Queensland Art Gallery, 2012, pp. 130-131, nº26.

Giandomenico Tiepolo y sus retratos de fantasía: el artista en la Corte, Banca March, 2014, pp. 55.

Other inventories +

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1873-1907. Núm. 2126.
2126.-(266-J.)-La oracion y agonía de Jesus en el monte de los Olivos.-El ángel que ha bajado del cielo á confortar al Redentor, tiene en la mano el cáliz de la pasion. / Este lienzo y sus compañeros los siete siguientes fueron pintados para la iglesia del convento de San Felipe Neri de Madrid, y trasladados al Museo de la Trinidad en 1836. / Alto 1,42; ancho 1,21.-L.

Inv. Nuevas Adquisiciones (iniciado en 1856). Núm. 266.
266 / Autor = [sobrescrito= "Tieppolo"] / Lienzo = La adoracion del Huerto / Alto 1,42 ancho 1,21 figs. / [Al margen izquierdo=] Procede de la incautacion de cuadros del ex-convento de Sto. Domingo de Madrid dispuesta pr. el Poder Ejecutivo fcha. 5 Junio 1869. [sobrescrito a lápiz= "(De las Teresas)"] / [Con otra grafía y a lápiz=] (Pasó al Museo del Prado) / (Al Museo Nacional de Pintura y Escultura)

Inscriptions +

Convto. de Sta. Teresa / Madrid no 266 -
Painted. Back, upper left corner

Exhibitions +

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
16.12.2012 - 31.03.2013

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Houston TX
15.12.2012 - 31.03.2013

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
22.07.2012 - 04.11.2012

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Brisbane, Australia
21.07.2012 - 04.11.2012

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

Displayed objects +


Update date: 26-05-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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