The composition of this previously unrecorded painting has hitherto only been known from two small versions. One, in the Muzeum Uniwersytetu Jagiellonskiego, Kraków, was identified as the work of Giandomenico Tiepolo by Antonio Morassi (A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings of G.B. Tiepolo, London, 1962, p. 10) and the attribution was endorsed by Adriano Mariuz (Giandomenico Tiepolo, Venice, 1971, p. 118, pl. 55, where dated c. 1752). Measuring 52 x 40 cm., this extends the composition somewhat meaninglessly on the left and at the top, and the quality of its execution is impossible to judge from the illustration provided by Mariuz. However, an even smaller version (41.5 x 21 cm.), which would seem to be unquestionably autograph has appeared on the market (Finarte, Madrid, 16 November 1995, lot 24, and previously with Matthiesen Fine Art, London, published in The Settecento, 4 November-20 December 1987, pp. 83-85, no. 14, pl. 11). In that the composition is extended at the top and bottom and slightly at the right. This would seem to be the modello for the present picture, in which the composition has been tightened. Datable to the early 1750s, it may originally have formed part of a set of room decorations, although no other components are currently known.
Apart from ten drawings by Giandomenico of Angelica and Medoro from the Beauchamp album, sold at Christie's, 15 June 1965, lots 130-9, subjects from Ariosto are very rare in the work of the Tiepolos. The subject of this painting can be seen as an immediate sequel to Giambattista's Angelica carving Medoro's name in a tree, one of a series of Ariostan frescoes painted for the Villa Valmarana in Vicenza (the 'stanza dell'Orlando furioso' - M. Gemin and F. Pedrocco, Giambattista Tiepolo: I dipinti, Opera completa, Venice, 1993, no. 443). The close narrative proximity of these two scenes is an eloquent reminder of the close collaboration between the two painters, and of Giandomenico's strong intellectual committment to his father's work. The stylistic relationship with Giambattista's scenes from Gerusalemme liberata in the National Gallery, London - which were reproduced by Giandomenico in etchings - may explain the presence of the shield or mirror, which is not textually appropriate to this scene.
We are grateful to Professor George Knox for his assistance in the preparation of this entry.