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Lorenzo Tiepolo (Venice 1736-1776 Madrid)
No sales tax is due on the purchase price of this … Read more Property from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Sold to Benefit the Acquisitions Fund
Lorenzo Tiepolo (Venice 1736-1776 Madrid)

Head of a bearded man in Oriental dress

Lorenzo Tiepolo (Venice 1736-1776 Madrid)
Head of a bearded man in Oriental dress
oil on canvas
17¾ x 14¼ in. (45.1 x 36.2 cm.)
with Julius Bohler, Munich, 1953.
with T.P. Grange & Co., London, 1954.
Miss Bella Mabury, by whom given to the present owner in 1954.
A. Morassi, A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings of G.B. Tiepolo, London, 1962, p. 31.
B. Fredericksen and F. Zeri, Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections, Cambridge, 1972, p. 198.
G. Knox, 'Philosopher Portraits by Giambattista, Domenico, and Lorenzo Tiepolo,' Burlington Magazine, 17, March 1975, p. 152, as a variant of a philosopher portrait by Lorenzo Tiepolo in the Pinacoteca Malaspina, Pavia.
S. Schaefer and P. Fusco, European Painting and Sculpture in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, 1987, p. 95, illustrated.
Venice, Museo del Settecento, Mostra del Tiepolo, 1951, no. 72.
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Lot Essay

The present painting of a philosopher by Lorenzo Tiepolo, rapidly executed, represents a bust-length portrait of a heavily bearded man with an angular face, scowling brow and piercing blue eyes. He is dressed in Oriental costume, with a red cap beneath a fringed turban and hooded teal robe. Across the chest of his white vest, he wears a red sash with three cameos in a heavy gilt setting.

This philosopher belongs to a group of works that derive their inspiration from two series of etchings, known as the Raccolta di Teste, by Domenico Tiepolo (published in a book by George Knox, Udine 1970). There are, in fact, at least five sets of philosophers that relate to the etchings, labeled by Knox as A through E; he gives the first to Giambattista, the second and third to Lorenzo, the fourth to Domenico and the last again to Lorenzo, although the varying quality also leads Knox to suggest alternately that they might date from his years in Spain. Knox considers the present portrait to belong to set C, the series by Lorenzo painted on a somewhat smaller scale. It most closely resembles a version in the Pinacoteca Malaspina in Pavia, even though that work is slightly larger in scale and, like the original engraving, includes slightly more of the subject's robe at the bottom of the canvas. Knox also notes that the 'firm modeling and clear color' of the present work place it close to the original by Giambattista in terms of quality. Philosopher portraits belong to a tradition dating back to Cicero and Dante. Such a series would, of course, be well-received by an educated viewer.

Lorenzo Tiepolo was a son of the more famous Giambattista Tiepolo and brother of Domenico. Together with his father and older brother, Lorenzo worked on a decorative fresco cycle in Wurzburg in the early 1750s, subsequently returning to his native Venice where he was admitted to the confraternity in 1761. The following year, he left yet again to assist Gimabattista and Domenico with a commission to execute the ceiling frescoes in the Palacio Real in Madrid. Upon Giambattista's death in 1770, Lorenzo chose to remain in Madrid, where he completed a number of pastel portraits and was elected to the Venetian Academy in absentia in 1773.

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