Allegory of the Planets and Continents

Artist: Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (Italian, Venice 1696–1770 Madrid)

Date: 1752

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 73 x 54 7/8 in. (185.4 x 139.4 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, 1977

Accession Number: 1977.1.3


This picture, Tiepolo's largest and most dazzling oil sketch, represents Apollo about to embark on his daily course across the sky. Deities around the sun god symbolize the planets, and allegorical figures on the cornice represent the four continents. Tiepolo presented this preliminary sketch to Carl Philipp von Greiffenklau, the prince-bishop of Würzburg, on April 20, 1752, as his proposal for the decoration of the vast staircase ceiling of the Residenz, often considered the artist's greatest achievement.