Triumph of the Arts and Sciences

The Triumph of the Arts and Sciences, the largest and most glorious of Tiepolo’s frescoes at Palazzo Archinto, decorated one of the main rooms of the palazzo’s piano nobile, between the two courtyards. It featured allegorical figures — including Architecture, Painting, Sculpture, Music, and Mathematics, under the aegis of Apollo and Minerva — set within a painted architectural frame, or quadratura, by the Bolognese Stefano Orlandi (1681–1760). In niches in the architectural surrounds were feigned statues of the four continents and two crowned figures — presumably either from ancient history or the Bible — one of whom holds a snake and the other a piece of paper. This fresco surely related to Carlo Archinto’s intellectual pursuits and to his library, though the library was in another part of the palazzo. This is the only Tiepolo fresco in the palazzo for which drawings and a painted modello survive.
  • Study for a ceiling fresco

    Giambattista Tiepolo (1696–1770)
    Triumph of the Arts and Sciences, ca. 1730–31
    Oil on canvas
    21 7/8 × 28 3/8 in. (55.5 × 72 cm)
    Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Lisbon
    © Direção-Geral do Património Cultural / Arquivo de Documentação Fotográfica (DGPC/ADF); photo Luisa Oliveira

     

    This is one of three surviving sketches by Tiepolo for Palazzo Archinto, here reunited for the first time. When Tiepolo painted this one, he had no idea what the quadratura around the fresco was going to look like; he therefore left his figures hovering in a cloudy sky, surrounded by an area of brown ocher color. The allegorical figures that populate this sketch are portrayed under the protection of Minerva and Apollo. At top left is Saturn, winged and with his scythe to signify the timeless nature of the arts and sciences. Each of the female figures in the painting is associated with an art or a science. Painting, brandishing brush and palette, is at center right. To her left is Music, seated with a viola. The woman with a closed book and the other one with a pen and an open book, are possibly History or Literature and Poetry, respectively. Further to the left is Sculpture, leaning over a marble bust and holding a chisel. To the left, on another cloud, are Arithmetic (in her left hand, a scroll inscribed with numbers) and Architecture (with a pendulum). Behind them, to the left, are Astronomy, measuring the heavens with a compass, and Dialectic in a helmet with white and black feathers and a half-moon on her forehead, and holding a double-edged dagger. At the right, a beautiful male figure with multicolored wings and holding an object that has been variously identified as a lens, magnifying glass, or mirror, may be an allegory referring to color and vision.

  • Drawing of allegorical figures.

    Giambattista Tiepolo (1696–1770)
    Study for Four Female Figures, 1730–31
    Pen, brown ink, and black chalk, on white paper
    11 3/8 × 13 3/8 in. (288 × 340 mm)
    Civico Museo Sartorio, Trieste

     

    For his fresco cycles, Tiepolo executed a number of preparatory drawings that study compositional solutions for his figurative groups. This is the only extant pen sketch for the Archinto cycle. Here Tiepolo studied the central group of figures for the Triumph of the Arts and Sciences, focusing on the allegorical figures of Literature (or History), Painting, and Sculpture.

  • Drawing of a female head

    Giambattista Tiepolo (1696–1770)
    Study of Female Head (recto); Study of Foreshortened Head (verso), 1730–31
    Black and white chalk on gray-white paper, recto framed in pen and brown ink
    11 1/4 × 8 1/4 in. (285 × 210 mm)
    Finnish National Gallery, Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Helsinki
    Finnish National Gallery / Jenni Nurminen

     

    The study on the recto, likely drawn from a model, was used for the central figure of Painting in the Triumph of the Arts and Sciences. The focus is on the soft shadows created by the light coming from the left and on the simple line of the contour of the figure's oval face. The study on the verso (upside down) is probably for the bust that Tiepolo placed next to the allegory of Sculpture in the final fresco.

  • Photograph of a frescoed ceiling.

    Giambattista Tiepolo (1696–1770)
    Triumph of the Arts and Sciences, ca. 1730–31 (destroyed 1943)
    From Attilio Centelli and Gerardo Molfese, Gli affreschi di G.B. Tiepolo raccolti da Gerardo Molfese con uno studio di Attilio Centelli (Turin, 1897), pl. 1
    Page from unbound book
    17 5/8 × 23 1/2 in. (448 × 598 mm)
    Azienda di Servizi alla Persona Golgi-Redaelli, Milan
    su autorizzazione dell'Azienda di Servizi alla Persona Golgi-Redaelli di Milano

     

    As can be seen from the pre-war photographs, there are several differences between the Lisbon sketch and the final fresco. The addition of the quadratura in the final ceiling meant that the figures were repositioned in relation to the fictive architecture. In the final fresco, Saturn is shown seated on the tympanum of a building; the putto seated under Painting was given wooden squares rather than a mask; and the two putti in the sketch at bottom left and right were eliminated.

  • Photograph of a fresco depicting allegorical figures.

    Giambattista Tiepolo (1696–1770)
    Triumph of the Arts and Sciences, ca. 1730–31 (destroyed 1943)
    From Attilio Centelli and Gerardo Molfese, Gli affreschi di G.B. Tiepolo raccolti da Gerardo Molfese con uno studio di Attilio Centelli (Turin, 1897), pl. 2
    Page from unbound book
    17 5/8 × 23 1/2 in. (448 × 598 mm)
    Azienda di Servizi alla Persona Golgi-Redaelli, Milan
    su autorizzazione dell'Azienda di Servizi alla Persona Golgi-Redaelli di Milano

     

     
  • Photograph of a fresco depicting allegorical figures.

    Giambattista Tiepolo (1696–1770)
    Triumph of the Arts and Sciences, ca. 1730–31 (destroyed 1943)
    From Attilio Centelli and Gerardo Molfese, Gli affreschi di G.B. Tiepolo raccolti da Gerardo Molfese con uno studio di Attilio Centelli (Turin, 1897), pl. 3
    Page from unbound book
    17 5/8 × 23 1/2 in. (448 × 598 mm)
    Azienda di Servizi alla Persona Golgi-Redaelli, Milan
    su autorizzazione dell'Azienda di Servizi alla Persona Golgi-Redaelli di Milano

     

     
  • Photograph of a fresco depicting allegorical figures.

    Giambattista Tiepolo (1696–1770)
    Triumph of the Arts and Sciences (detail), ca. 1730–31 (destroyed 1943)
    Unknown photographer, 1940
    6 3/4 × 4 3/8 in. (172 × 112 mm)
    Azienda di Servizi alla Persona Golgi-Redaelli, Milan
    su autorizzazione dell'Azienda di Servizi alla Persona Golgi-Redaelli di Milano

     
  • Giambattista Tiepolo (1696–1770)
    Triumph of the Arts and Sciences (detail), ca. 1730–31 (destroyed 1943)
    Unknown photographer, 1940
    6 3/4 × 4 3/8 in. (172 × 112 mm)
    Azienda di Servizi alla Persona Golgi-Redaelli, Milan
    su autorizzazione dell'Azienda di Servizi alla Persona Golgi-Redaelli di Milano

     
  • Detail photograph of a fresco depicting allegorical figures.

    Giambattista Tiepolo (1696–1770)
    Triumph of the Arts and Sciences (detail), ca. 1730–31 (destroyed 1943)
    Unknown photographer, 1940
    4 3/8 × 6 3/4 in. (112 × 172 mm)
    Azienda di Servizi alla Persona Golgi-Redaelli, Milan
    su autorizzazione dell'Azienda di Servizi alla Persona Golgi-Redaelli di Milano

     
  • Detail photograph of a fresco depicting allegorical figures.

    Giambattista Tiepolo (1696–1770)
    Triumph of the Arts and Sciences (detail), ca. 1730–31 (destroyed 1943)
    Unknown photographer, 1940
    4 3/8 × 6 3/4 in. (112 × 172 mm)
    Azienda di Servizi alla Persona Golgi-Redaelli, Milan
    su autorizzazione dell'Azienda di Servizi alla Persona Golgi-Redaelli di Milano

     
  • Detail photograph of a fresco depicting a winged allegorical figure.

    Giambattista Tiepolo (1696–1770)
    Triumph of the Arts and Sciences (detail), ca. 1730–31 (destroyed 1943)
    Unknown photographer, 1940
    6 3/4 × 4 3/8 in. (172 × 112 mm)
    Azienda di Servizi alla Persona Golgi-Redaelli, Milan
    su autorizzazione dell'Azienda di Servizi alla Persona Golgi-Redaelli di Milano

     
  • Detail photograph of a fresco depicting allegorical figures.

    Giambattista Tiepolo (1696–1770)
    Triumph of the Arts and Sciences (detail), ca. 1730–31 (destroyed 1943)
    Unknown photographer, 1940
    4 3/8 × 6 3/4 in. (112 × 172 mm)
    Azienda di Servizi alla Persona Golgi-Redaelli, Milan
    su autorizzazione dell'Azienda di Servizi alla Persona Golgi-Redaelli di Milano