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Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo
Venice, 1727-1804
The Storyteller, mid 1770s
Oil on canvas.
Standing on the edge of a Venetian piazza, a cantastorie a popular storyteller and balladeer entertains a group that seems a microcosm of society. Apparently a slice of contemporary life, the scene is rendered with especially refined versions of the traditional Venetian devices of clear light, atmospheric color, and animating touch. At the same time, the picture involves the most formal conventions of Venetian decoration, from the horizontal proportions of the picture, to the low viewpoint that translates the group into a procession, and the perfect distribution of shadow and color. The result is both contemporary and nostalgic, real and artificial.