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Young Noble Couple Playing Cards on a Terrace with Attendants

circa 1750-1755
18th century
61.6 cm x 75.57 cm (24 1/4 in. x 29 3/4 in.)

Francesco Zugno (1709 - 1787) Primary

Object Type: painting
Artist Nationality: Europe, Italian
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Suida-Manning Collection, 2017
Accession Number: 2017.1453

Zugno was one of the closest and best followers of Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. His first training was with Sebastiano Ricci, but completely determining of his style was his long collaboration with the elder Tiepolo. Although his juvenile works have often been confused with the master’s, Zugno’s mature style is readily distinguished by its more delicate description, soft contour, and sweet color. Not just due to temper, this gentle and elegant manner probably reflects some knowledge of the school of Watteau.

This lovely picture renders a young couple playing cards under the supervision of an older couple – her guardians? – and with the service of two pages. In such a context, the game serves as a metaphor for courtship. Formally, the picture depends upon Tiepolo’s style of the late 1740s and 1750s. In composition it may be compared with Tiepolo’s Banquet of Cleopatra in Moscow (1747), while in figural rhythm and lightening palette it recalls his frescoes of Henry III in Paris (1750) and canvases of Rinaldo and Armida in Chicago (1755). At just this time, 1754, Zugno was executing a History of Cleopatra in fresco for the Villa Soderini at Nervesa (practically destroyed in the Second World War), and would have been consulting the master’s recent history paintings closely.

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