Tiepolo's Pictorial Imagination: Drawings for Palazzo Clerici
In 1740 Giambattista Tiepolo completed his grand ceiling fresco for the Gallery of Palazzo Clerici, Milan. Unlike his previous ceilings, this was a long gallery that could not be seen in its entirety from a single viewpoint; instead, the ceiling unrolls overhead in a scroll-like manner as visitors pass down the long Gallery. A large group of preparatory studies survives for the ceiling, and these permit us to consider how Tiepolo responded to this daunting assignment and produced a series of interrelated figure groups to decorate the vault. Nearly all today at the Morgan Library & Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Museo Horne in Florence, these drawings have long been recognized as studies for the ceiling, but never before has there been a sustained attempt to trace Tiepolo’s creative process through the dozens of sheets. William Barcham’s study of the Clerici drawings thus offers new perspectives not only on the Clerici ceiling but more broadly on Tiepolo’s pictorial imagination and inventive genius.