Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
(1696 - 1770)
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (Italian, 1696-1770) was a popular Venetian painter whose colorful murals and illusionistic ceilings decorate churches and royal chambers in northern Italy, Austria, and Madrid, Spain. In addition, Giambattista (as he was known) produced about forty etchings, all of which were published posthumously by his son, Giandomenico, in two series, the "Scherzi di Fantasia" (initially 22 plates, 1778) and the "Vari Capricci" (10 plates, 1785).
Scholars still debate when Giambattista first created these prints (and in what order), but they agree that he made them in quiet moments interspersed with the production of his expansive decorative frescoes. In these small, un-commissioned images, the artist maintained total control of iconography and content, but the meaning of the sages, soldiers, satyrs, snakes, and owls that populate his curious compositions continue to mystify viewers.