The Miracle of the Holy House of Loreto

Object Details


The Miracle of the Holy House of Loreto


Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (Italian, 1696 - 1770)




Italy (Place created)




Oil on canvas


122.9 x 77.8 cm (48 3/8 x 30 5/8 in.)

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Giambattista Tiepolo made this final preparatory study for a large illusionistic fresco that covered the ceiling of the Scalzi church in Venice. The fresco was destroyed by bombing in World War I. According to a fifteenth-century legend, when the Virgin Mary's house in Nazareth came under threat by invading Saracen armies, it was miraculously transported in 1291 from the Holy Land to Loreto, a small town on Italy's Adriatic coast.

Using an oval shape, Tiepolo painted the scene in three parts, depicting the figures in the lowest register in large scale and those near the top much smaller in size. This technique, called di sotto in sù (from below upward) gives the viewer the illusion that the scene is an extension of his space: the ceiling of the church opens up to reveal the events of the miracle. In the upper register, painted in golden hues, God the Father and the dove of the Holy Spirit preside amidst a chorus of music-making angels. The central area of the canvas features the Virgin and Child and the Holy House borne aloft by angels. Saint Joseph, with his arms raised overhead, accompanies them. On the right, three trumpeting angels announce the event. In the lowest register, closest to the viewer's space, a mass of dark figures personifying evil recoil and fall away from the Holy House. Other figures, some wearing turbans and carrying weapons symbolizing the invading Saracens, watch from the periphery.


Cecilia Guardi, probably by inheritance from her husband, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.

- 1884

Edward Cheyney, died 1884 (London, England; Badger Hall, Shropshire, England), upon his death, held in trust by the estate.

1884 - 1885

Estate of Edward Cheyney, died 1884 [sold, Cheyney sale, Christie's, London, April 29, 1885, lot 160, to Archibald Philip Primrose.]

1885 - 1929

Archibald Philip Primrose, fifth earl of Rosebery, Scottish, 1847 - 1929 (Dalmeny House, Lothian, Scotland), by inheritance to Albert Edward Harry Mayer Archibald Primrose, 1929.

1929 - 1974

Albert Edward Harry Mayer Archibald Primrose, sixth earl of Rosebery, 1882 - 1974 (Dalmeny House, Lothian, Scotland; Mentmore, Bucks., England), by inheritance to Eva Isabel Marian Strutt, 1974.


Eva Isabel Marian Strutt, countess of Rosebery, 1892 - 1987 (Dalmeny House, Lothian, Scotland) [sold, Rosebery sale, Sotheby's, London, December 11, 1974, lot 15, to British Rail Pension Trustee Company, Ltd.]

1974 - 1994

British Rail Pension Trustee Company, Ltd. (London, England), sold through Hazlitt, Gooden and Fox Ltd. (London, England) to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1994.

Mostra del Tiepolo (1951) (51)
Eighteenth Century Venice (January 3 to March 14, 1951) (120)
  • Whitechapel Art Gallery, (London), January 3 to March 14, 1951
European Masters of the Eighteenth Century (1954 to 1955) (504)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), 1954 to 1955
Thirty-Five Paintings from the Collection of the British Rail Pension Fund (November 8 to December 14, 1984) (31)
  • Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd., (London), November 8 to December 14, 1984
Giambattista Tiepolo: Master of the Oil Sketch (September 18 to December 12, 1993) (29)
  • Kimbell Art Museum, (Fort Worth), September 18 to December 12, 1993
Giambattista Tiepolo, 1696 - 1770 (September 5, 1996 to April 27, 1997) (48b)
  • Museo del Settecento Veneziano di Ca' Rezzonico, (Venice), September 5 to December 8, 1996
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, (New York), January 20 to April 27, 1997
For Your Approval: Oil Sketches by Tiepolo (May 3 to September 4, 2005) (8)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), May 3 to September 4, 2005
Venice in the Age of Canaletto (October 8, 2009 to May 9, 2010) (14)
  • The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, (Sarasota), October 8, 2009 to January 10, 2010
  • Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, (Memphis), February 13 to May 9, 2010
Related Media
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    Audio: The Miracle of Holy House of Loreto
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