This is one of a series of mythological sculpture-like drawings. These mostly represent individual figures standing on pedestals with their identity and a number inscribed below. The highest known number is 30. George Knox has connected seven similar drawings of figures on pedestals in the Victoria and Albert Museum to the sculptures in the garden of the Villa Cordellina at Monteghio Maggiore, where Tiepolo worked in 1743 (G. Knox, Catalogue of the Tiepolo Drawings in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1975, nos. 74-80).
Two drawings from this series, of Hercules and Pluto, were sold at Christie's New York respectively on 28 January 1999, lot 79 and on 12 January 1995, lot 55. Further drawings were exhibited in 1997 at the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York (B. Aikema, Tiepolo and his Circle, exhib. cat., The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York and elsewhere, 1997, no. 53), at the Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin and at the Fondation Custodia, Paris (J. Byam Shaw, The Italian Drawings of the Frits Lugt Collection, Paris, 1983, no. 283, with a list of other drawings in the series).
Francesco Algarotti, who owned the present drawing, was one of Tiepolo's most faithful Venetian patrons, ordering pictures both for himself and for Augustus the Strong in Dresden (for Algarotti see F. Haskell, Patrons and Painters, New Haven and London, 1980, pp. 347-60). Conte Bernardino Corniani (1780-after 1856) was a grandson of Conte Francesco Algarotti, and was a distinguished collector who owned many albums of Tiepolo drawings, for which see the following lot.