Sunday, May 16, 2010


Roberto Calasso's Tiepolo Pink (a book I quoted from a few days ago here) continues to fill up my leisure time and travel time with surprises and pleasures. Giambattista Tiepolo and his two sons Domenico and Lorenzo produced an enormous body of work, providing Calasso with wide pastures from which to pick his specimens and embroider around them in prose. Though modest in size the book is plentifully and beautifully illustrated, mostly in color, with reproductions printed on the same matte-finish paper as the text, allowing better integration than one usually sees. (It probably helps that Calasso runs his own publishing house, Adelphi, in Milan, and presumably can grant his own wishes when it comes to book design, unlike most authors.) I've been following up on the internet, poking around for whatever examples I could find of Tiepolo's sketches and etchings and frescoes and paintings. The samples here are offered solely on the basis of visual appeal, with none of Calasso's organizational rigor.

The ceiling fresco above is one of my favorites. It is called The Triumph of Zephyr and Flora. Everyone agrees that Tiepolo had a prodigious talent for painting clouds, but even more appealing than the cloud-architecture in this picture is the idea that Zephyr deserves better than the ordinary bird-wings of cupids and angels, so Tiepolo gives him dragonfly-wings.