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The Virgin and Child appearing to a Group of Saints
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
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This is a small oil sketch but its composition is ambitious. Tiepolo has arranged the figures in a towering pyramid with the Virgin Mary at the top, seated on a cloud. She holds the Christ Child on her knee, grasping his foot firmly as he tugs at her veil.

The saints’ responses unfold in a chain reaction as we are led around the painting by gesture and gaze. On the right, the outstretched arm of a kneeling priest directs us to Saint Francis, who wears the brown habit of the religious order he founded. He bows his head while the priest in yellow beside him looks intently towards the Virgin and Christ. Above them, a female saint also turns towards Christ. The clouds and swooping cherubs add to the sense of movement.

This sketch does not relate to any known altarpiece by the artist. It could have been made as a small devotional work or a preliminary sketch that didn't lead to a major work.

Key facts
Artist Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
Artist dates 1696 - 1770
Full title The Virgin and Child appearing to a Group of Saints
Date made about 1735
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 52.7 x 31.8 cm
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2513
Location in Gallery Not on display
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