Giovanni Battista TIEPOLO (Venice 1696 - Madrid 1770)

A Reclining Satyr and Satyress Sold

Pen and brown ink and brown wash, over traces of an underdrawing in black chalk.
182 x 266 mm. (7 1/8 x 10 1/2 in.)


A superb and fresh example of Giambattista Tiepolo’s facility as a draughtsman, this spirited drawing may be included among a group of pen and wash studies of fauns or satyrs dating from the 1740’s. These are in turn part of a stylistically coherent group of drawings of allegorical and mythological figures that are, in many cases, related to Tiepolo’s fresco on the vault of the Galleria of the Palazzo Clerici in Milan, painted in 1740. Other drawings of this type, however, may also have been made as reference material for later projects. As Bernard Aikema has noted, ‘The year 1740 must have been exceptionally busy for the artist, with such great demands being placed on his inventive powers. No wonder he executed – possibly for the first time – a large series of pen drawings with clusters of figures, which were intended for specific projects but also for his stock of motifs, with a view to future commissions.’

A group of fifteen pen and wash drawings of satyrs by Tiepolo are in the collection of the Museo Horne in Florence; these include several studies of paired satyrs as depicted in the present sheet3. Other drawings of satyrs by Tiepolo are today in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York, the Fogg Art Museum in Cambridge, MA, and elsewhere. These drawings of satyrs were all part of the repertory of motifs that the artist began to assemble in the 1740’s, both for the Palazzo Clerici frescoes and for future projects. Indeed, some of the satyrs in these drawings of the 1740’s reappear in such later works as the decoration of the Ca’ Rezzonico in Venice, executed in 1756-1757, and the Villa Pisani at Strà, painted between 1760 and 1762.

Baron Louis-Auguste de Schwiter, Paris (Lugt 1768)
Possibly his sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot [Chevallier], 20-21 April 1883, lot 136 (‘Faunes. Figures décoratives pour des voussures. Plume et sepia.’)
Flavia Ormond, London.

Giovanni Battista TIEPOLO

A Reclining Satyr and Satyress


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