Tiepolo and the Villa Valmarana

Villa Valmarana ai Nani       Zoom in

photos: Mia Battaglia and zoom: Darren and Brad

Guesthouse and Villa Valmarana      Zoom in

Guesthouse and Villa Valmarana  ai Nani
Wikipedia and zoom: Jorbasa Fotografie


This villa was built between 1665 and 1669 for Giovanni Bertolo and was obtained by the count Valmarana in 1715. Nani is the word used for dwarfs. The villa owes its name to the dwarf statues atop the wall surrounding the villa.

With the aid of his son Giandomenico, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo constructed a fresco cycle in the vestibule and the five adjacent rooms on the ceilings and the walls. Web Gallery of Art and Wikipedia shows a part of this cycle.

Villa Valmarana detail: Nani
photos: David Nicholls and istela1
Self-portrait Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo 1750-1753

The layout of the Torquato Tasoso frescos by Tiepolo (the entrance at the vestibule is denoted by an arrow): A. Vestibule B. Room of Homer C. Room of Ariosto D. Room of Vergil E. Room of Torquato Tasso

In designing the cycle, Tiepolo was inspired by four stories, namely of the Ilias of Homerus (700 BC), the Aeneas of Vergilius (70 – 19 BC), the Orlanda furioso of Ariosto (1474-1533) and the Gerusalemme liberta of Tasso (1544-1595). Next to this villa is a guest house, in large part decorated with frescos by Giambattista’s sons.

Vestibule        Fresco ceiling

Villa Valmarana Vestibule

In the vestibule (A on the layout), the ceiling depicts Artemis. She prevents Iphigenia from being sacrificed by sending her a deer on a cloud with a putti. The deer must be slaughtered instead of Iphigenia. The moment when Iphigenia is about to be killed is displayed on the right wall in a large fresco, 350 x 700 cm. The influence of Veronese is obvious. The cloud with the deer arrives just in time. On the left wall, across from Iphigenia, the Greeks await their departure to Troy, with the ships dropping anchor in the background.

Tiepolo ‘Sacrifice ofIphigenia’      A deer on a cloud with a putto

Tiepolo Tiepolo 'Sacrifice ofIphigenia'  Villa Valmarana

Room of Homer

Villa Valmarana Room Homer

The room of Homerus (layout B) depicts a theme from the Ilias. The largest wall shows the story of Achilles’ favourite slave, Briseis, who is kidnapped and given to Agamemnon. On the other wall, to the left, Achilles is furious about the kidnapping.
The frenzied Achilles is halted by Athena just in time by pulling his hair. Between the windows, Thetis comforts Achilles. Athena is depicted on the ceiling.

Thetis  comforts Achilles 

Tiepolo Thetis  comforts Achilles  fresco Villa Valmarana

The room of Ariosto

comforts Room Ariosto

The room of Ariosto (layout C) shows the love history between Medoro the knight and Angelica. The wall where you leave the room depicts Angelica healing the injured Medoro. To the left, we see Medoro and Angelica in a shepherd’s hut where they can hide. We subsequently see the infatuated Angelica carving the name of her beloved in a tree. Finally, we see how Angelica, chained against the rocks and threatened by a monster, is rescued just in time.

Room of Ariosto       Layout

Villa Valmarana Ariosto Room

We head back through the vestibule and into the fourth room, the Room of Vergil, which depicts the story of Aeneas by Vergil. Directly across from the entrance, Venus sends Amor to Aeneas who has just landed on African soil. To the left, Aeneas introduces his son Ascanius to queen Dido. The son depicted here looks a lot like the son of Aeneas, but in reality he is a cupid who ensures Dido and Aeneas fall in love.

Room of Vergil

Villa Valmarana Room Vergil

Venus, who we see on the ceiling, is who came up with this great idea. The ceiling piece is no longer the original. German bombs destroyed this part of the building. There is also a fresco where Mercury warns Aeneas to leave Carthage and return to Italy.

The room of Torquato Tasso

Villa Valmarana Torquato Tasso room

We now walk towards the last room, the room of Torquato Tasso (layout E), which depicts a story by Torquato Tasso. The wall with two windows that you are facing as you enter this room depicts two stories about the liberated Jerusalem. To the right, the sorceress Armida falls in love with Rinaldo and kidnaps him. To the right of that, inside Armida’s magical castle, Rinaldo falls in love with her too. A happy ending, you would think, but alas. Two friends of Rinaldo, Guelfo and Ubaldo, go out looking for Rinaldo and find him. Despite Armida’s attempts to stop her beloved, he turns to his friends and the enchantment is broken. Rinaldo leaves Armida. The ceiling explains the moral behind this story. Virtue trumps slander: illustrated as light conquering darkness.

The end of Vicenza