Project Description

Castigo dei Serpenti, Giambattista Tiepolo, 1730 ca.
Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice

Restoration of the painting Il Castigo dei Serpenti, Giambattista Tiepolo, 1730 ca.

Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice

Project Director
dott.ssa Roberta Battaglia


Venetian Heritage

Start date
January 2020

End date
September 2021

121.756,36 €

The Castigo dei Serpenti by Giambattista Tiepolo is an extensive exceptional freeze painted in the 1730s for the Church of Saints Cosma and Damiano in the Giudecca. The painting portrays the atrocious punishment inflicted by God on the population of Israel. Exhausted by thirst and hunger, and disputed their faith during the crossing of the desert, the Jews were sentenced to death by poisonous snake bites. Moses, to end such torment, asked God for his help; he invited him to build on a pole a bronzed snake, capable of saving whoever would look at him. The freeze depicts three episodes, each one framed with ornamental motifs imitating materials such as gilded or lacquered wood and stuccoes. In the early 19th century, following the Napoleonic decrees, the painting was removed from the Church of Saints Cosma and Damiano and deposited in the Church of Santa Maria and San Liberale in Castelfranco Veneto (Treviso). There, it remained rolled up for a long period in an attic, which caused dramatic damage. In 1982 the Castigo dei Serpenti was brought to the Gallerie dell’Accademia and deposited in its storages. Prior to its restoration, supported by Venetian Heritage and dedicated to its founder Mr. Lawrence D. Lovett, the painting appeared to have numerous gaps; mostly horizontal and vertical lines taking the shape of a spiderweb creasing the canvas drawing. The work of art is now permanently exhibited in the Gallerie dell’Accademia, in the Saloni Selva (room 6), whose display was also supported by Venetian Heritage.