Meeting Antony and Cleopatra by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

Meeting Antony and Cleopatra by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

Documents to accurately date this fresco are not preserved, but one of Reynolds’s drawings from 1752 reproduces just this scene, which allows us to conclude that it was created by Tiepolo shortly before leaving for Würzburg. Fresco of the Great Hall of the Palazzo Labia in Venice.

The hall, which rises to two floors, is completely covered with frescoes. The walls of the room were expanded by an illusionist image of architectural elements, into which the real doors and windows were organically incorporated. Thus, the artists created a multi-level system of fictitious spaces of the interior and exterior, in which the scenes “The Meeting of Antony and Cleopatra” and “The Feast of Cleopatra”, which create the impression of a colorful, spectacular, theatrical action, were organically written.

An indispensable attribute of Tiepolo’s artistic method, which is characterized by a sharp mind and irony, is a large number of household details. Servants, soldiers, musicians and other characters fill the room so naturally that the spectator involuntarily begins to doubt: is this the retinue of Cleopatra or the real servant of the palace?

In the distance, behind the portico, the ships of the Roman fleet can be seen, and the retinue of Antonia in the form of a festive, triumphal procession slowly moves to the palace of Cleopatra. In the foreground, Antony himself and Cleopatra lead the procession. Antony points to the steps that lead to the great hall of the palace.

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