Lorenzo Tiepolo was a painter, engraver, draughtsman and pastellist. The younger son of Giambattista Tiepolo and Cecilia Guardi, sister of Antonio and Francesco Guardi, he was somewhat overshadowed by his elder brother Domenico. Lorenzo started his career as a boy in his father's studio, making his debut as part of the family team commissioned to decorate the Residenz in Würzburg between 1750 and 1753.
In 1762 Giambattista, Lorenzo and Domenico left Venice for Madrid, at the invitation of King Charles III to decorate the Royal Palace. Lorenzo was to remain in Spain until his untimely death at the age of thirty-nine after a long illness. In the early years in Madrid while he was working with his father, Lorenzo frescoed several ceilings in the royal palace, as well as painting portraits of the Bourbon princes. It is in his portraits that Lorenzo's real brilliance and distinctive style can most clearly be seen, and where his sensitivity as a draughtsman and the superb command of his favorite medium of pastel is most clearly evident (see, for example, the portrait of his mother in Ca' Rezzonico, Venice, illustrated in the catalogue of the exhibition, The Glory of Venice, The Royal Academy, London, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1994-5, p. 344, no. 238).
Lorenzo's most original works are the pastel genre scenes that he made for the private apartments of the Royal Palace, Madrid in 1771-3 (ibid., p. 346, fig. 56). These half-length groups of Madrileños in Spanish costume are remarkable for their sense of detachment and interest in physiognomy. Lorenzo's pastels show both how he adapted his father's technique into a more lyrical style as well as his debt to Rosalba Carriera whose work he greatly admired. Catherine Whistler, in the catalogue of the exhibition, The Glory of Venice, (op. cit.) has noted the possible influence of Piazzetta's genre scenes and chalk drawings as well as how Lorenzo must have borrowed from details of the Spanish figures around the cornice of Giambattista's Throne Room ceiling fresco of 1762-4. She notes that 'Lorenzo's genre scenes fed a growing taste of costumbrismo at the Madrid court; interestingly they antedate the genre scenes produced as tapestry cartoons by the Bayeu brothers, Goya and the court artists in the mid-1770's' (idem.).
The early provenance of the present lot in unknown, but it is tempting to presume that it was originally part of the set of some dozen pastels of genre scenes, many of which are very similar in size, and one of which is extremely close in composition, executed by Lorenzo for the private apartments of the Royal Palace and still in situ. For a further discussion of Lorenzo Tiepolo's work, see M. Precerutti-Garberi, Il Terzo dei Tiepolo: Lorenzo, in Pantheon, Jan.-Feb. 1967, pp. 44-56, illustrated; and A.L. Mayer, Dipinti di Lorenzo Tiepolo, in Bollettino d'Arte, 2, IV, March 1925, pp. 412-22, illustrated