Looking Closer: A (Weird) Painting in the Grand Manner

Tiepolo, The Martyrdom of St Agatha, 1750.

Tiepolo, The Martyrdom of St Agatha, 1750.

I saved this image of Tiepolo’s St Agatha some time ago, long enough in the past for me to forget why–I probably liked her expressiveness–but looking at it last night, I was going to delete it. And then I started noticing things…. like the four lurkers. Click to enlarge the painting and you should be able to spot them all: the man to the left of the column, the brown skinned man whose eye appears to the left of Agatha’s head, the fair-haired person who seems to peer through her halo, and the turbaned man looking right at us over the pointing finger of the torturer.

What does it mean? I have no idea. It just struck me as weirdly modern. I’ll keep it around–even if it does bother me a bit.

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