Comune di Vicenza

Vicenza: città patrimonio dell'Unesco

Immaculate Conception

AuthorGiambattista Tiepolo
Period(Venezia 1696 - Madrid 1770)
SupportoTela, 386x190
InventoryA 107

The painting, dating back to 1733, was originally placed on the first altar on the right in the church of Aracoeli in Vicenza, just opposite the Ecstasy of Saint Francis by Giambattista Piazzetta (A 105). In 1830 it was moved into the choir of the church and was later sold to Carlo Clemente Barbieri (1849), who gave it to the Civic Art Gallery in 1854.

Here Giambattista Tiepolo paints one of the “mysteries” of the Catholic religion, the Immaculate Conception, that is the belief that the Virgin was conceived without original sin and that she should not therefore suffer death of the body.

According to the traditional iconography established during the Counter-Reformation, the Madonna is shown here as she appears in heaven, clothed in a white robe with a flowing blue mantle. Following the text of the Apocalypse (12,1), the artist shows the Virgin as a young woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. Her gaze, looking down towards humanity, and her proud dignified bearing express her detachment from human nature, also indicated by the lilies hanging loosely, almost wilting, held by some realistic, lively little angels.

The image, “which would appear to be carved in light with the paintbrush, in a supreme exercise of pictorial virtuosity” (Mariuz), marks an evolution in Tiepolo's painting: from the realistic chiaroscuro of Piazzetta’s art, the artist turns his palate towards the clear shining colours of Sebastiano Ricci. Luminosity and brightness of colour, exemplified here in the silvery reflections on the Madonna’s robe, were to become the distinctive feature of the pictorial language of the Venetian master.

This work belongs to the exhibition route: