Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Italian Masters

Small section of The Immaculate Conception/Tiepolo.
A virgin draped in white, blue and gold fabric who is, for all purposes pregnant stands upon the horn-like crescent moon, two cherubs peek out from the folds within the pleats of her billowing garb. A white dove is flying just above her head as is a circle of bright stars, suggesting that not only is she blessed but extremely special in the celestial scheme of things. The virgin clasps her fingers, fingertips touching, to reveal the space between them as a circle mirroring the shape of the blue globe below. A serpent that has a red tail and a head that resembles a medieval dragon, rather than a snake lies uncomfortably beneath her feet. This devil of a creature holds a ripe, red apple in its teeth and reminds us of Eve and her temptation to eat of the tree of knowledge, thus associating Mary with all women of the world. Disembodied angels whose heads appear from behind a cloud and other angelic creatures that appear out of nowhere? Just off centre at the bottom of the painting is part of a gilded frame that may surround a painting.
This is of course, my description of the most interesting painting that I saw in The Italian Masters exhibition at the NGV International today. It’s called The Immaculate Conception and it was painted by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1767). There are many absolutely fantastic paintings in this extensive exhibition.

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