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Giandomenico Tiepolo (Venice 1727-1804)
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Giandomenico Tiepolo (Venice 1727-1804)

Dancing the Minuet

Giandomenico Tiepolo (Venice 1727-1804)
Dancing the Minuet
oil on canvas
13 x 19 1/8 in. (33 x 48.5 cm.)
Harald Bendixson, Roxley House, Hertfordshire; Christie's, London, 5 July 1929, lot 147, to Destramm (for 1,950 gns. with the pendant).
with Wildenstein, Paris and New York, until at least 1938.
Maurice de Rothschild, Paris, from whom purchased by
Dr. and Mrs. Edgar Mayer, Tarrytown, New York, circa 1952, and by descent through
Cecile Lehman Mayer to
Susan Lehman Cullman, and by descent to the present owner.
G. Lorenzetti, Feste e maschere veneziane, exhibition catalogue, Venice, 1937, pp. 52-3, no. VII.5, fig. 32, as 'Giambattista Tiepolo'. A.C., 'Venezia: La Mostra delle feste maschere veneziane', Emporium, July 1937, LXXXVI, p. 397.
D. Catton-Rich, Loan exhibition of paintings, drawings and prints of the two Tiepolos: Giambattista and Giandomenico, exhibition catalogue, Chicago, 1938, p. 27, no. 26, as 'Giambattista Tiepolo'.
T.C. Howe and W. Heil eds., Exhibition of Venetian painting from the fifteenth century through the eighteenth century, exhibition catalogue, San Francisco, 1938, no. 63, as 'Giovanni Battista Tiepolo'.
M. Goering, 'Domenico Tiepolo' in Thieme-Becker Künstlerlexicon, Leipzig, 1939, XXXIII, p. 273.
A. Morassi, 'Domenico Tiepolo' in Emporium, June 1941, pp. 271 and 273.
G. Fiocco, 'Tiepolo in Spagna' in Le Arti, October 1942, pp. 9-10, as 'Giambattista Tiepolo'.
E.P. Richardson, Venice 1700-1800, exhibition catalogue, Detroit, 1952, pp. 55-6, no. 71, as 'Giambattista Tiepolo'.
A. Morassi, 'Una mostra del Settecento a Detroit' in Arte Veneta, 1953, p. 54, as 'Domenico'.
A. Morassi, A complete catalogue of the paintings of G.B. Tiepolo, London, 1962, p. 35, as 'Domenico'.
J. Byam-Shaw, The drawings of Domenico Tiepolo, London, 1962, pp. 14-15.
A. Mariuz, Giandomenico Tiepolo, Venice, 1971, pp. 129-30, no. 193.
A. Rizzi, Mostra del Tiepolo, exhibition catalogue, Milan, 1971, p. 167, fig. 106.
E. Fahy, ed., The Wrightsman Pictures, New Haven & London, 2005, under cat. no. 30, pp. 104-6, note 2.
Venice, Ca' Rezzonico, Feste e maschere veneziane, 6 May-31 October 1937, no. VII.5, as 'Giambattista Tiepolo'.
Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, Loan exhibition of paintings, drawings and prints of the two Tiepolos: Giambattista and Giandomenico, 4 February-6 March 1938, no. 26, as 'Giambattista Tiepolo'.
San Francisco, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Venetian painting from the fifteenth century through the eighteenth century, 25 June-24 July 1938, no. 63, as 'Giovanni Battista Tiepolo'.
Detroit, The Detroit Institute of Arts, Venice 1700-1800: An exhibition of Venice and the Eighteenth Century, Detroit Institute of Arts, 30 September-2 November 1952, no. 71, as 'Giambattista Tiepolo'.
Pittsburgh, The Carnegie Institute, Pictures of Everyday Life. Genre Painting in Europe 1550-1900, 14 October-12 December 1954, no. 48, as 'Giambattista Tiepolo'.
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Lot Essay

Heir-apparent to the greatest artistic dynasty of 18th-century Venice, Giandomenico trained in the Tiepolo family workshop and spent much of his career executing projects designed by his father, Giambattista, and travelling with him to assist on vast decorative commissions in Wurzburg (1750-52) and Madrid (1762-70). His painting style, which did not significantly evolve, was an extension of his father's, meant to blend seamlessly with it, and many of his earliest works are barely distinguishable from those of his father.

However, whereas Giambattista specialized in massive, grand-manner decorative schemes and altarpieces from antiquity, mythology and the Bible that were the stock-in-trade of the mid-18th-century history painter, after about the age of 30, Giandomenico began to mark out for himself a personal artistic identity by depicting scenes of everyday life, and he gradually developed a distinctive manner for portraying them. In 1757 he collaborated with his father on the decoration of the Villa Valmarana near Vicenza, frescoing in the Foresteria (or guesthouse) pastoral subjects, chinoiseries and humorous, closely observed episodes from contemporary country life and the Venetian theatre that differed notably from the grandiose paintings illustrating episodes from Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered with which Giambattista decorated the walls of the main villa.

The present painting, generally known as The Minuet, depicts a group of elegantly attired Venetians dancing and flirting in the countryside. Several of them wear masks, probably indicating that they are performers in one of the travelling troupes of actors from the Commedia dell'Arte. Although ordinary Venetians of all classes wore masks during Carnival, that was a winter celebration beginning on December 26th (St. Stephen's Day), whereas the present painting seems to take place in warmer, sunnier months. During the summer Venetians customarily went on villegiatura, holiday time on their country estates. Commedia dell'arte troupes frequently enjoyed aristocratic patronage, and in the Veneto were housed during the summer at the estates of the nobles they entertained. In Giandomenico's painting it appears that an itinerant troupe of players is concluding its morning's entertainment (these performances could occur at any time of day) with the traditional minuet; a small dog watches and yaps, and two local girls - wearing kerchiefs and rustic clothing - join in with a jig. Laughing, smiling, luminous in the sunshine, colourfully dressed and arrested in an instant of lively movement by the artist's brush, Giandomenico's country revelers perfectly embody the aesthetic of 18th-century villegiatura: they are the essence of summer holiday-making.

The Minuet is one of a small group of elegant genre paintings - many of them depicting country dances - that seem intimately connected to Giandomenico's work at the Foresteria at Villa Valmarana, and in particular his Minuet with Pantalon and Columbine fresco. These paintings are generally dated from immediately before the Foresteria decorations of 1757 to just after Giandomenico's arrival in Spain in his father's entourage in 1762, and represent Giandomenico's first truly original paintings made outside the influence of his father's example. Painted on a larger scale than the present canvas are three variations on the theme of The Minuet: one, in the Museu National d'Art de Catalunya, Cambo Bequest, is paired with a pendant depicting a quack doctor that is dated '1756'; another Minuet in the Musée du Louvre, Paris is paired with a canvas portraying a quack dentist; a third, known as A Dance in the Country is in the Wrightsman Gift to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (if it once had a pendant, it is today unknown). The present painting was conceived with a pendant depicting a rustic scene of country peasants watching a gypsy girl with a tambourine make four dogs dance (private collection). The pair of paintings was sold at Christie's, London in 1929, where they were astutely entitled High Life and Low Life.

In scale, the present Minuet and its former pendant The Dancing Dogs, are close to other small-scale genre scenes made by Giandomenico in the late 1750s and early 1760s, including two depictions of The Charlatan (both measuring 35 x 57 cm; one sold Sotheby's, New York, 30 January 1997, lot 97; the other sold Christie's, New York, 6 April 2006, lot 86). James Byam-Shaw (op. cit.) first suggested that the present painting showed 'more than a hint of Spanish taste in the costume of the more elegant spectators', and subsequently all scholars have dated it to early in Giandomenico's Spanish period (around 1762). Giandomenico would bring his career to a glorious conclusion with his celebrated suite of wash drawings of Scenes of Everyday Life in Venice and the Veneto, elaborate sketches that revisit the themes he first explored in paintings such as The Minuet.

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