Giovanni Domenico TIEPOLO (Venice 1727 - Venice 1804)

God the Father in Glory Sold

Pen and brown ink and brown wash, backed.
Signed Domo. Tiepolo at the lower right.
Extensively inscribed in German Am 7.II.1931 bei Hollstein und Puppel, Berlin, (No. 690 ??? / auf Rat von Dr. Rosenberg vom Berliner Kupferstichkabinett / 8.11.31 / Dr.[?] on the verso.
287 x 200 mm. (11 3/8 x 7 7/8 in.)


The present sheet may be included among a large series of drawings by Domenico Tiepolo on the theme of God the Father in clouds, supported by angels and cherubs. The artist drew several such series of drawings - depicting both religious and secular subjects – characterized by variations on a single theme. As James Byam Shaw has noted of such drawings, ‘Sometimes the theme itself derives from some great work of Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, sometimes it is apparently Domenico’s own. In either case, he takes an evident pride and pleasure in ringing the changes, devising new pictorial patterns, new relationships of figure to figure, while the essential material remains the same: and all within a limited scope – for, as always in Domenico’s work, whether painting or drawing, there is little attempt at composition in depth; it is on one plane, in two dimensions, whether the scene is on terra ferma or in the clouds.’

Writing in 1961, Byam Shaw noted that he knew more than sixty drawings by Domenico on the theme of God the Father, but that there must have been many more. Many of the drawings are numbered - the highest known number being 140 - and they exist in both vertical and horizontal formats. The largest extant group, numbering fourteen, is today in the collection of the Museo Correr in Venice, while others are in museum and private collections in Europe and America. It has also been noted that Domenico appears to have drawn inspiration for these drawings from the figure of the Almighty in the upper part of Giambattista Tiepolo’s large altarpiece of Saint Thecla Freeing Este from the Plague, painted for the Duomo in Este and installed in the church in December 1759.

The first recorded owner of this drawing was the eminent curator and connoisseur Paul J. Sachs (1878-1965). Sachs began collecting prints and drawings while a student at Harvard University, from where he graduated in 1900. After several years working in the family investment firm of Goldman Sachs, he was appointed assistant curator at Harvard’s William Hayes Fogg Art Museum in 1915, having spent the summer of the previous year travelling around Italy, and became associate director of the museum in 1923. The present sheet is recorded in the Fogg files as having been loaned by Sachs to the museum in 1919, possibly for exhibition. Having then been returned to him, the drawing was subsequently ‘given away’, as a note in Sachs’s hand on the back of a photograph of the drawing records.

Paul J. Sachs, Cambridge, MA., by 1919
Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, MA., in 1919 (on loan from Sachs)
A. Köster, Leipzig
His posthumous sale, Leipzig, C. G. Boerner, 13 November 1924, lot 471
Anonymous sale, Berlin, Hollstein & Puppel, 6-7 November 1931, lot 690 (‘Gottvater auf Wolken, zu seinen Füssen Drei Cherubim-Köpfe’)
Private collection, Germany.

Giovanni Domenico TIEPOLO

God the Father in Glory


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