The eighteenth-century Venetian painter Giambattista Tiepolo spent his life executing commissions in churches, palaces, and villas, often covering vast ceilings like those at the W�rzburg Residenz in Germany and the Royal Palace in Madrid with frescoes that are among the glories of Western art. The life of an epoch swirled around him - but though his contemporaries appreciated and admired him, they failed to understand him.
Few have even attempted to tackle Tiepolo's series of thirty-three bizarre and haunting etchings, the Capricci and the Scherzi, but Roberto Calasso rises to the challenge, interpreting these etchings as chapters in a dark narrative that contains the secret of Tiepolo's art. Blooming ephebes, female satyrs, Oriental sages, owls, snakes: we will find them all, including Punchinello and Death, within the pages of this book, along with Venus, Time, Moses, numerous angels, Cleopatra and Beatrice of Burgundy - a motley, gypsyish company always on the go.
Calasso makes clear that Tiepolo was more than a dazzling intermezzo in the history of painting. Rather, he represented a particular way of meeting the challenge of form: endowed with a fluid, seemingly effortless style, Tiepolo was the last incarnation of that peculiar Italian virtue sprezzatura, the art of not seeming artful.