This hitherto unpublished and remarkably well-preserved, unlined canvas is an outstanding example of Pittoni's oeuvre. The picture is a clear homage by the artist to the most celebrated painter of his day in eighteenth-century Venice, Giambattista Tiepolo. The latter's series of Heads of Oriental Philosophers, which are dated to circa 1745-1757, inspired Pittoni to paint his own interpretation of the theme. After Pittoni's death between 1770 and 1774, Tiepolo's son Giandomenico, made a series of prints after his father's inventions which immediately met with great success.
We are grateful to Professor Franca Zava-Boccazzi for confirming the attribution on the basis of a transparency: 'costituisce un unicum nella produzione del maestro' (letter, 3 November 2000). She dates the picture to circa 1745, probably when Giambattista Tiepolo's Heads where still a novelty. She points out that the hand of the Astronomer in particular is typical of Pittoni's style of that period and compares it to that of Saint Joseph in the altarpiece of San Alessandro della Croce, Bergamo, of circa 1746 (F. Zava Boccazzi, Pittoni, Venice, 1979, no. 14, fig. 449).