Seated Woman and Standing Man Surrounded by Other Figures, from the Scherzi di fantasia
25 cm x 20.1 cm (9 13/16 in. x 7 15/16 in.)
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
(Venice, Italy, 1696 - 1770, Madrid, Spain)
Medium and Support:
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Purchase through the generosity of the Still Water Foundation, 1997
With a style of incomparable amplitude, rhythm, and color, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo was the protagonist of the second great age of the Venetian school and a fundamental figure in European painting before the rise of Neoclassicism. Extraordinarily prolific and convincing in all genres, he was brilliant above all in decorative ensembles for palaces and villas in the Veneto, across northern Italy, and notably at Würzburg, Germany, and Madrid. Endlessly inventive in composition, utterly personal in vocabulary, and seemingly spontaneous in touch, Tiepolo’s drawings and etchings count among the finest achievements in their respective media. In many senses, Tiepolo is the last great Old Master.
Tiepolo created the twenty-three plates of Scherzi di fantasia probably in the 1750s. The most complicated and accomplished of his etchings, they involve very free and iconographically imprecise variations upon a range of Baroque themes. They draw upon a repertory of exotic figures, architectural fragments, and objects with at least a double sense. More or less allegorical, all refer to the passage of time, the stages of life, and the nature of knowledge. This subject is typical. Its composition, however, is one of the best resolved of the series, and this impression is unusually fine.