Giovanni Battista Tiepolo* (1696-1770)

The Muses: Calliope; Terpsichore; Melpomene; Urania(?); Euterpe; and Clio

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo* (1696-1770)
The Muses: Calliope; Terpsichore; Melpomene; Urania(?); Euterpe; and Clio
detached fresco with gilt background transferred to canvas--oval
13 x 18in. (33.6 x 46.3cm.), except Clio: 11.3.4 x 16.5/8in. (29.8 x 42.3cm.)
Six (6)
Brass collection, Venice, until 1925.
Dr. Adrien Fauchier-Magnan collection, Paris.
Comte de Boisvouvray, Paris.
A. Morassi, A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings of G.B. Tiepolo, 1962, p. 40.

Lot Essay

Painted as the decoration for the ceiling of a small room -- perhaps a music room or study -- the largest panel depicts a handsome, young Apollo, wearing a laurel wreath and holding a lyre, serving in his role as 'Apollo Musagetes', or companion of the Muses (see following lot). Seated on a cloud and held aloft by gamboling putti, the snake beneath him alludes to his victory over the python.

Surrounding the walls of the room below would have been the nine Muses, six of which are now known. Of the goddesses of poetic inspiration and the creative arts, those present include: Melpomene, Muse of Tragedy, depicted holding a mask; Clio, Muse of History, clutching an open book; Euterpe, Muse of Lyric Poetry and Music, with a flute, a horn and a garland entwined through her hair; Calliope, Muse of Epic Poetry, who holds a Crown; Terpsichore, Muse of Dance and Song, holding a lyre; and a last personification whose identity is less certain, but who might be Urania, Muse of Astronomy, peering into her compass.

As with the previous two lots, the present frescoes seem to date from the early-to-mid 1740s. Although it is not known where they were originally installed, there is no reason to assume that they come from the same villa as lots 104 and 105.

Morassi published this and lots 104-5 and 107 as 'painted in the main by Domenico [Tiepolo] and collaborators', but he revised his opinion after seeing the frescoes cleaned, and in a letter dated 15 January 1963 declared his belief that the entire group of frescoes are by Giambattista Tiepolo. Nevertheless, despite high quality and great invention, one cannot exclude the possibility of some workshop participation in the execution of the present and the following lot.