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PROPERTY FROM THE GUSTAV RAU COLLECTION SOLD TO BENEFIT THE GERMAN COMMITTEE FOR UNICEF

Giandomenico Tiepolo
THE CELEBRATED DEEDS OF THE PORTO FAMILY OF VICENZA: JACOPO PORTO APPOINTED GOVERNOR OF VICENZA IN 1022; DONATO PORTO APPOINTED A PATRICIAN OF VENICE IN 1379; GEROLAMO PORTO APPOINTED PREFECT OF PIEDMONT IN 1508; FRANCESCO PORTO APPOINTED GENERAL OF THE REPUBLIC OF VENICE  IN 1554; IPPOLITO PORTO COMMENDED BY CHARLES V IN 1572; GIOVANNI BATTISTA PORTO APPOINTED COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF IN 1661
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42

PROPERTY FROM THE GUSTAV RAU COLLECTION SOLD TO BENEFIT THE GERMAN COMMITTEE FOR UNICEF

Giandomenico Tiepolo
THE CELEBRATED DEEDS OF THE PORTO FAMILY OF VICENZA: JACOPO PORTO APPOINTED GOVERNOR OF VICENZA IN 1022; DONATO PORTO APPOINTED A PATRICIAN OF VENICE IN 1379; GEROLAMO PORTO APPOINTED PREFECT OF PIEDMONT IN 1508; FRANCESCO PORTO APPOINTED GENERAL OF THE REPUBLIC OF VENICE  IN 1554; IPPOLITO PORTO COMMENDED BY CHARLES V IN 1572; GIOVANNI BATTISTA PORTO APPOINTED COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF IN 1661
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Details & Cataloguing

Old Master & British Paintings Evening Sale

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London

Giandomenico Tiepolo
VENICE 1727 - 1804
THE CELEBRATED DEEDS OF THE PORTO FAMILY OF VICENZA: JACOPO PORTO APPOINTED GOVERNOR OF VICENZA IN 1022; DONATO PORTO APPOINTED A PATRICIAN OF VENICE IN 1379; GEROLAMO PORTO APPOINTED PREFECT OF PIEDMONT IN 1508; FRANCESCO PORTO APPOINTED GENERAL OF THE REPUBLIC OF VENICE  IN 1554; IPPOLITO PORTO COMMENDED BY CHARLES V IN 1572; GIOVANNI BATTISTA PORTO APPOINTED COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF IN 1661
Quantity: 6
each dated and extensively inscribed with a description of the event they portray
a set of six, each detached fresco transferred to canvas, in a trompe l'oeil frame, gold ground, unframed
the trompe l'oeil frame in the scene with Francesco Porto is an addition
each approximately: 271 by 185 cm.; 106 3/4  by 72 7/8  in.
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Provenance

Painted circa 1760 in Palazzo Porto, Vicenza, where they hung until circa 1900;
Dr. Eduard Simon (1864-1929), Berlin, from at least 1903 until 1929;
His deceased sale, Berlin, Cassirer und Helbing, 11 October 1929, lots 13-18 (as Giambattista Tiepolo);
Acquired at the above sale by Axel Wenner-Gren (1881-1961), 32 Quai de Passy, Paris and later Stockholm;
With the Hallsborough Gallery, London, 1966 (as a collaboration between Giambattista and Giandomenico);
Acquired from the above by Dr. Gustav Rau (1922-2002);
By whom bequeathed to UNICEF, the present owner.

Exhibited

Stockholm, National Museum, Aldre Italiensk Konst, 1944, nos. 216-21 (as Giambattista);
Leeds, Temple Newsam House, 1967-68 (as Giambattista).

Literature

F. Vendramin Mosca, Descrizione di Vicenza, 1779, vol. II, p. 86 (as "Tiepoletto");
P. Molmenti, G.B. Tiepolo, la sua vita e le sue opere, Milan 1909, pp. 271-72, reproduced pp. 269-70 (as Giambattista);
E. Sack, Giambattista und Domenico Tiepolo, Hamburg 1910, p. 183, cat. nos. 294-299 (as Giambattista);
M. Friedländer, Sammlung Dr. Eduard Simon, Gemälde, Berlin 1929, pp. 42-52, reproduced plates XV-XX (as Giambattista);
C. Vigni, Disegni del Tiepolo, Padua 1942, p. 65, under cat. no. 195 (as Giandomenico, datable 1755-60);
G. Vigni, 'Note su Giambattista e Giandomenico Tiepolo', in Emporium, July 1943, p. 14 and note 2 (as Giandomenico, possibly on Giambattista's design, and dated 1760);
A. Morassi, A complete catalogue of the paintings of G.B. Tiepolo, London 1962, pp. 48-49 (as Giambattista with collaboration from his son Giandomenico);
A. Morassi, 'Giandomenico Tiepolo', in Enciclopedia Universale dell' Arte, Venice/Rome 1965, ad vocem;
Exhibition of Six Tiepolo Frescoes from the Palazzo Porto, Vicenza, exhibition catalogue, London 1966 (as a collaboration between father and son, datable 1757);
K. Roberts, 'Current and Forthcoming Exhibitions', in The Burlington Magazine, vol. CVIII, no. 756, February 1966, p. 102 (without specifying which Tiepolo is the author);
B. Nicolson, 'Current and Forthcoming Exhibitions', in The Burlington Magazine, vol. CVIII, no. 756, March 1966, p. 155, reproduced figs. 55 & 56 (without specifying which Tiepolo is the author);
A. Noach, Tiepolo Frescoes from the Palazzo Porto, Vicenza, exhibition booklet, place unknown 1967 (as Giambattista);
A. Pallucchini, L'opera completa di Giambattista Tiepolo, Milan 1968, pp. 127-28, cat. no. 261B (as a collaboration between father and son);
A. Mariuz, Giandomenico Tiepolo, Venice 1971, p. 122, reproduced figs. 140-145 (as Giandomenico);
E. Forssman, Il Palazzo da Porto Festa di Vicenza, Corpus Palladianum XVIII, Vicenza 1973, pp. 65-66, reproduced figs 74-79;
G. Knox, 'Primi Pensieri by Domenico Tiepolo and a New Painting', in Master Paintings, XVII, I, 1979, pp. 32-33, under cat. nos. I and J, only Ippolito Porto reproduced (as Giandomenico);
G. Knox, Giambattista and Domenico Tiepolo, A Study and Catalogue Raisonné of the Chalk Drawings, vol. I, New York, 1980, p. 323, cat. no. P.317 (as Giandomenico);
R. Menegozzo, Nobili e Tiepolo a Vicenza. L'artista e i suoi committenti, Vicenza 1990, p. 119-126, all reproduced (as Giandomenico);
B.L. Brown (ed.), Giambattista Tiepolo, Master of the oil sketch, exhibition catalogue, Milan 1993, pp. 279-80, under cat. no. 44, and notes 6, 7 (as Giandomenico); 
M. Gemin and F. Pedrocco, Giambattista Tiepolo, I dipinti, opera completa, Venice 1993, p. 476, under cat. no. 501 (as Giandomenico);
F. Pedrocco, Tiepolo, The Complete Paintings, New York 2002, p. 303, under cat. no. 269 (as Giandomenico).

Catalogue Note

These magnificent monochrome frescoes commemorating the glories and achievements of the Porto family from the eleventh to the seventeenth centuries were painted around 1760 by Giandomenico Tiepolo for the Palazzo da Porto Festa in Vicenza which had been built by Andrea Palladio. The scion of a wealthy patrician family, Giambattista Orazio Porto (1730-1816) commissioned the artist and his father Giambattista to collaborate in the decoration of three of the palazzo's main rooms. A stylistic analysis of the works produced would suggest that the father limited himself to working on the ceiling of the main salone, where he painted the oval fresco depicting the Apotheosis of Orazio da Porto which is now in the Seattle Museum of Art.1 Giandomenico, meanwhile, worked on two smaller rooms, producing the present series immortalising Porto’s forefathers, and another series, still in situ, which was possibly commissioned to replace Paolo Veronese's three allegories on canvas from 1551-52 which are today split between the Vatican and the Pinacoteca Capitolina in Rome.2 To this day, Domenico Brusasorci's fresco of the Fall of the Giants can still be seen on the ceiling of the room in which the present series probably hung.

The frescoes had always been assumed to be by Giambattista until 1943 when Vigni (see Literature) reassigned them to Giandomenico, proposing a dating of circa 1760. Preparatory drawings for the designs of Jacopo and Ippolito are known, the former in the Museo Civico in Trieste (see fig. 1) and the latter in the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia (see fig. 2). While Vigni assigned the latter to Giambattista - thereby proposing that the compsitions were conceived by the father but executed by the son - Knox assigned both drawings to Giandomenico, thereby considering the whole creative process to be by the son. Morassi and Pallucchini, both writing in the 1960s, still saw Giambattista's hand in the frescoes and proposed a collaboration between father and son, though since Mariuz’s 1971 monograph all scholars have considered the works to be by Giandomenico alone.3 Mariuz in particular mentions that the hatching technique used to delineate texture, executed almost like an etching, betrays the hand of the son. While gold backgrounds are more often associated with Italian painting before 1500, there was a short revival in its popularity in the Veneto in the eighteenth century. Other examples of the artist's work with a gold background include the eight trompe l'oeil monochrome bas-reliefs from 1761-62 frescoed in Villa Pisani in Stra.4

The frescoes can be divided into three neat pairs. Since the paintings are homogenous both in terms of composition and content, the pairings are based on the light which enters the design rather than chronological or subject matter. As suggested in the Leeds exhibition catalogue from 1967 and again by Forssman (see Literature), the position in which each painting was destined to hang in their original room would have had a direct impact on the way the artist composed the designs, for the painted light-fall would have been conceived in such a way as to avoid contrasting with the direction of the natural light coming in from the windows. For example, in two of the paintings the shadows fall to the right and in two others to the left, while in the remaining two the shadows are relatively unpronounced, suggesting that they were possibly evenly divided on three walls, with a single source of light in between them. Moreover, the fact that in the frescoes depicting Gerolamo and Donato the shadows are much stronger than in those showing Ippolito and Francesco, suggests that the first two were destined to hang further away from the window where the natural shadows would have been longer than in those frescoes nearer the window. Forssman proposes that with one's back to the window one would have seen to the left the frescoes of Donato and Francesco with Girolamo and Ippolito to the right. In the wall opposite, Jacopo and Giovanni Battista, the frescoes in which the shadows are virtually negligible, would have guarded the entrance.

While the frescoes celebrate the triumphant feats of the condottieri of the Porto family over the course of seven centuries, the chronological order also provides the modern viewer with a useful timeline which illustrates the political shifts and events of Medieval and early modern Europe. It illustrates the varying fortunes and ever-changing allegiances of Europe’s key players, and of course the fundamental role the Porto family played within the successes of the Republic of Venice, at times within the bosom of the Holy Roman Empire and latterly as an independent political force. The first fresco shows Jacopo Porto - a count and a knight, and renown for his moral integrity and learning, as the inscription is keen for us to know - appointed prefect of Vicenza in 1022 by the Emperor Henry II (also known as Saint Henry). Two river gods accompany them to the left while Palladio's basilica in Vicenza anachronistically adorns the background. The second fresco shows Donato Porto being co-opted among the Venetian patricians in 1379 in recognition for his help in the victorious War of Chioggia against the Genoese Republic, Venice’s great rival on the seas. The Serenissima is represented by Saint Mark's lion lower left, while the coins and trireme symbolise Donato's financial and naval assistance. By the early sixteenth century Venice and the Porto Family were at war again, this time against an alliance composed of virtually every other major force in Europe, united under the banner of the League of Cambrai. Tiepolo’s fresco shows Gerolamo Porto appointed Prefect of Piedmont in 1508 by the Venetian authorities, symbolised once more by the lion, while the flags of the inimical Holy Roman Empire, France and the Papal States are seen beyond.

The Porto family were still participating in the struggle for European power in the sixteenth century and beyond: in the fourth fresco Francesco Porto is immortalised for receiving the general’s cap in 1554, while behind him can be seen his beloved Villa Porto Colleone in Thiene, near Vicenza. The next fresco shows Ippolito Porto honoured by the Emperor Charles V – recognisable by his distinctive profile - for capturing and handing over the Elector John Frederick, Duke of Saxony, wanted by Charles for his rebellious uprising. Power in Europe was steadily being centralised by Charles V, as both internal rivals for his throne and foreign powers gradually submitted to his rule. That the fresco’s caption should also list that Ippolito gave his life defending Venetian territories abroad at the battle of Corfu against the Turks, also illustrates the continuing Venetian dominance of the seas, a theme which usefully leads on to the last fresco, arguably the highpoint of the family’s history, as Giovanni Battista Porto is appointed generalissimo and given the keys to Crete, Palma and Mantua in 1661.

PROVENANCE:
The frescoes have enjoyed a remarkable history and have passed through the hands of some of Europe’s wealthiest and most discerning collectors. Their original home, Palazzo Porto was commissioned from Andrea Palladio by Iseppo Porto in 1554 shortly after marrying Livia Thiene.5 Painted in 1760, the frescoes were removed from the palazzo in circa 1900 along with Giambattista's aforementioned Apotheosis of Orazio da Porto when they were acquired by the Berlin industrialist and collector Eduard Simon (1864-1929) who had been recommended them by the curator and art historian Willhelm Von Bode (1845-1929), who would shortly thereafter found the Kaiser Friedrich Museum, now named the Bode Museum in his honour.6 By 1903 the detached frescoes were hanging in Simon's house in 7 Victoriastrasse in Berlin which had been built shortly before by the renown architect Alfred Messel (1853-1909). The dining room was specially designed to fit the frescoes and the plans were meticulously studied before building was allowed to commence (see figs. 3 and 4). Their next owner, the Swedish entrepreneur Axel Wenner-Gren (1881-1961; fig. 5), one of the richest men in the world at the time, took the works to Paris and then Stockholm, before they were sold to the Hallsborough Gallery in London. It was here that Dr Gustav Rau, the German industrialist and collector, acquired them.




1. See Gemin/Pedrocco under Literature, 1993. The museum also houses a very fine bozzetto for the design. The subject has also been interpreted as Valour Triumphs over Ignorance and is Crowned by Virtue.
2. See Gemin/Pedrocco, under Literature. For Veronese’s Allegories see T. Pignatti and F. Pedrocco, Veronese, Milan 1995, vol. I, pp. 59-61, cat. nos. 31 and 32, reproduced.
3. Vigni (see Literature,1942) lists a drawing of the Jacopo composition as by Giambattista in preparation for Giandomenico's execution. The drawing is inscribed: Giacomo (sic).
4. See Mariuz, under Literature, pp. 136-37, reproduced figs. 179-82. Two Allegories with a gold background are also known to have been painted by Giambattista Tiepolo and are today in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam: see B. Aikema (ed.), Italian Paintings from the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries in Dutch Public Collections, Florence 1997, pp. 159-60, cat. nos. 182-83, both reproduced.
5. Situated in the Contrà Porti, the palazzo should not be confused with the smaller and less ornate Palazzo Porto in Vicenza's Piazza Castello.
6. When the fresco now in Seattle was detached, only a thin layer of plaster was removed. Such was the thickness of the paint which had seeped through and remained on the wall that a very clear outline remained which was subsequently retouched and to this day gives a satisfactory impression of the original.

Old Master & British Paintings Evening Sale

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