Angelica and Medoro with the Shepherds, Size: 250x250cm; Villa Valmarana, Vicenza.
Angelica Carving Medoro's Name on a Tree, Size: 250x160cm; Villa Valmarana, Vicenza.
Artist: Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
It is a more down-to-earth and emotional Tiepolo, a long way from the grandiloquence of his celebratory works, that we find in the frescoes he painted for Conte Giustino Valmarana in his "oasis of peace and quiet," the villa to which he had withdrawn for the "private enjoyment of his leisure." New sentiments and a new style, for a cycle of paintings dominated by the theme of love and the need to juggle the demands of love and duty in which we see a series of painful renunciations, perhaps a tribute by the count to his deceased wife or a reminder to his sons, to whom he left precise instructions with regard to their treatment of the villa in his will. In the trompe-l'oeil settings painted by Mengozzi Colonna, Tiepolo represented scenes from the Iliad, Aeneid, Orlando Furioso and Gerusalemme Liberate in four small rooms connected by the central Room of Iphigenia. In the Room of the Orlando Furioso, in 1757, Tiepolo painted scenes drawn from Ariosto's work in an intimate and familiar tone: the episode in which the beautiful Angelica, princess of Cathay, is saved by Ruggero is followed by the story of the girl's love for the humble Medoro. In an idyllic atmosphere, Angelica carves their names "hound together by various knots," on a tree, while in the scene of the leave-taking the two lovers offer to the peasants who had given them hospitality "a ring of gold, adorned with rich gems" that Orlando had given to Angelica as a pledge of love. The realism of the two peasants is due to Giandomenico Tiepolo, who was also entrusted with the frescoes in the guest quarters. The subjects in the villa were taken from four authors that Conte Francesco Algarotti, a friend of Tiepolo's, used to recommend to the librettists of operas. The client, moreover, was a lover of the theater and owned a share in the Teatro Novo alla Racchetta in Vicenza, providing yet another motive for the scenographic approach Tiepolo took to the decorations.
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