Monday, May 9, 2016

Tiepolo, Father and Son, at Villa Valmarana ai Nani, Vicenza

It will cost you just 6 euro (if you take the regionale veloce, or fast local train), a pleasant 45 minute rail trip, and either a short bus ride or walk up Monte Bèrico south of Vicenza to find yourself surrounded by Tiepolos. There are lot of other things to see in Vicenza, as well--for one thing, Palladio's famous and influential Villa La Rotonda is just a five minute walk away from Villa Valmarana--but on a pleasant spring day the latter, with its paintings and the view from its garden, can seem all by itself to be worth the trip.

There is no photography allowed in the main house, frescoed with scenes from myth and romance entirely by Giambattista Tiepolo, but the Foresteria, or guest house, is nearly as interesting, and an excellent chance to see more of the work of his son Giandomenico Tiepolo, whose cinemascope-ish Il Mondo Nuovo is a highlight of Ca' Rezzonico on the Grand Canal.

The first three images of this post are from the one room in the guest house painted by Giambattista, the last four images from another room, painted by Giandomenico. As you can see, one of Giandomencio's images is a much smaller prefiguration of Il Nuovo Mondo in which--as is the case with the latter--we viewers can see both less and more than the figures in the painting. Whatever it is within the small structure that the crowd finds so diverting is entirely lost to us, but, unlike the captivated crowd, we see the larger horizon beyond.

These three small genre scenes by Giandomenico are set in trompe l'oeil frames within a larger trompe l'oeil architectural context, complete with its own richly-arrayed tray-bearer on the illusory stairs. That figure himself, and the Blackamoor tradition he represents--and which is still popular in Venice (you can see a wood carver still producing them just off Campo San Tomà--is worth a post all himself, but at present I'll refer anyone interested to the following piece on a recent New York University exhibition and conference in Florence: (One of the interesting facts in this piece: The United States is the number one importer in the world of Blackamoors, with Texas and Connecticut having the greatest appetite for them.)

For an excellent virtual tour of the main house (in which you can virtually move from one room to the next), and for all the information needed to plan a visit, go to:

The Foresteria at right, the main house in the distance

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