Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (Venice 1696-1770 Madrid)
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (Venice 1696-1770 Madrid)

Time and Truth

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (Venice 1696-1770 Madrid)
Time and Truth
black chalk, pen and brown ink, brown wash, the upper two corners made up, watermark indistinct animal
8 ¾ x 8 ¼ in. (22.2 x 21.1 cm.)
Professor W. Bateson (L. 2604a); Sotheby's, London, 19 April 1929, lot 100.
with Savile Gallery, London.
Anonymous sale; Bonhams, New York, 21 April 2009, lot 85.
with Jean-Luc Baroni, London (cat. 2010, no. 16), where acquired by the present owner.
E. Sack, Giovanni und Domenico Tiepolo, Hamburg, 1910, no. 105.
D. von Hadeln, Handzeichnungen von Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Munich, 1927, fig. 20.
London, Burlington Fine Arts Club, Venetian Painting of the 18th Century, 1911, no. 61.
London, Magnasco Society, Loan Exhibition of 16th and 17th Century Italian Drawings, 1927, no. 84.

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Lot Essay

Vividly drawn with looping lines in black chalk, and sinuously reworked with Tiepolo’s luminous technique in pen, ink and washes, this allegorical couple represents a classic in the artist’s iconographic repertory. Bathed by light and sustained on a cloud by two putti, the young naked allegory of Truth and the elderly Time are interlaced in a sensual embrace. The subject was intensively studied by the artist in a group of drawings acquired in 1937 by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (inv. nos. 37.165.19, 23, 31 and 42, J. Bean and W. Griswold, 18th Century Italian Drawings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1990, nos. 206-11, ill.) and in a sheet in The Morgan Library, New York (inv. IV, 101). A circular oil sketch for a ceiling decoration, formerly in Basel (collection of Baron von Hirsch) represents the closest comparison to our drawing: according to Antonio Morassi it was made in preparation for the ceiling of the Palazzo Barbarigo, Venice, and therefore dates to the early 1740s (A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings by G.B. Tiepolo, London 1962, no. 323, ill.). Despite the moralizing tone of the painted subject, in his drawing Tiepolo emphasized the figures’ sensuality, particularly explicit in the pose of Truth touching Time’s leg.

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