39
39
Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo
INCONTRO AL MOLO: A 'CODEGA' SHOWING THE WAY TO A NOBLE COUPLE ON A MOLO
Estimate
600,000800,000
LOT SOLD. 725,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
39
Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo
INCONTRO AL MOLO: A 'CODEGA' SHOWING THE WAY TO A NOBLE COUPLE ON A MOLO
Estimate
600,000800,000
LOT SOLD. 725,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Old Master Drawings

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New York

Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo
VENICE 1727 - 1804
INCONTRO AL MOLO: A 'CODEGA' SHOWING THE WAY TO A NOBLE COUPLE ON A MOLO
Pen and brown ink and brown and gray wash over traces of black chalk;
signed and dated in pen and brown ink over the roof of the gondola: Dom.co Tiepolo f. 1791 
289 by 417 mm; 11 3/8  by 16 7/16  in
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Alfred Beurdeley, Paris,
his sale, Paris, Hotel Drouot, F. Lair-Dubreuil, H. Baudoin, 31 May 1920, part of lot 170;
Adrien Fauchier-Magnan, Cannes-La Bocca;
sale, London, Sotheby's, 6 July 1967, lot 43,
where bought by Robert Lehman;
Joseph P. Goldyne, San Francisco;
with Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox, London, European drawings. Recent acquisitions, 1988, no. 43, reproduced;
Leonardo Mondadori;
with Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox, London, from whom purchased by the present owner

Exhibited

Washington, National Gallery of Art, Venetian Drawings from American Collections, 1974, (catalogue by T. Pignatti), p. 53, no. 111, reproduced fig. 111

Literature

H. de Chennevières, Les Tiepolos, Paris 1898, p. 138 reproduced;
W.K. Juynboll, 'Een Caricatuur van Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo', Bulletin Boijmans van Beuningen Museum, VII, Rotterdam 1956, no. 3 (wrongly as in the Louvre);
J. Byam Shaw and G. Knox, Italian 18th Century Drawings, The Robert Lehman Collection, VI, New York and Princeton 1987, p. 209, under no. 172;
D. Succi, I Tiepolo, Virtuosismo e ironia, exhib. cat., Mirano, Barchessa - Villa XXV Aprile, 1988, no. 32; 
A. Mariuz, Domenico Tiepolo, 1727-1804, Udine 1996, p. 34;
B. Aikema and M. Tuijn, Tiepolo in Holland, Works by Giambattista Tiepolo and His Circle in Dutch Collections, exhib. cat., Rotterdam, Boijmans van Beuningen Museum, 1996, under no. 61, p. 144, reproduced fig. 3;
G. Pavanello, 'Tutta la vita dal principio alla fine e una comica assurdità', Tiepolo, ironia e comico, exhib. cat., Venice, Fondazione Giorgio Cini, 2004, reproduced p. 46; and in the catalogue section, p. 174, under no. 116;
A.M. Gealt and G. Knox, Giandomenico Tiepolo, Scene di vita quotidiana a Venezia e nella terraferma, Venice 2005, p. 42; p. 165, no. 63, reproduced p. 166, fig . 63, and p. 187, under nos. 83, 83A.

Catalogue Note

This magnificent, and superbly preserved drawing is one of the finest Venetian drawings of any type to have appeared on the market in a generation.   An elegantly dressed couple has just stepped out of their gondola onto a molo, and, although it does not appear to be getting dark, a lantern-bearer, or codega in Venetian dialect, is already at work, possibly to earn some extra money, pointing with his left hand as he steps forward.  The presence of the codega has sometime been interpreted as a satirical social comment, as the man's services cannot possibily be needed in daytime. According to Byam Shaw, though, Giandomenico was not a politically minded artist and was indeed rather conservative, although it is not surprising that in his later works, and especially in this type of drawing made for personal amusement, we can sometimes detect hints of the events and ideologies of the French Revolution.  Yet all the same, there seems no particular reason to believe that this is an image conceived with social criticism in mind, rather that it is simply a depiction of a late afternoon moment, when an eager codega could already be soliciting work.  The fact that the gondola is equipped with its felze, a cover used in winter or at night that has the added benefit of permitting a noble and loving couple to travel in anonymity, could be an indication that dusk is not far off.  A young boy and a dog complete the left side of the scene, while in the background, as Gealt and Knox suggest, is a church that may be S. Giorgio Maggiore.  In striking contrast to the animated left side of the composition, Giandomenico has left the right side of the sheet almost empty, with only a group of birds flying above the horizon as if to suggest the freedom of the imagination.  

This amusing and delightful drawing is one of Giandomenico's 'Scene di vita quotidiana', called by Byam Shaw The Contemporary Scene, the series that he described as the most original of all Giandomenico's contributions to Venetian art.  Byam Shaw believed the origins of this series could be traced to the frescoes painted by Giambattista and Giandomenico together in 1757 for Giustino Valmarana, in the Foresteria of his villa near Vicenza, pointing out the striking difference between Giandomenico's modern and direct approach in describing the scenes from daily life, and his father Giambattista's more traditional interpretation of similar subjects, still conceived in the grand Venetian manner.  Very unusually for Giandomenico, many of the drawings in the 'Scene di vita quotidiana' series are dated.  Mostly, they are, like the present work, dated 1791, but Byam Shaw believed some are earlier, and others are certainly later (one seems to be dated 1800).They are generally, as here, finished, pictorial horizontal compositions, of a large format, and surely created as independent works in their own right, not preparatory for paintings.  Byam Shaw wrote: 'When a picture of nearly the same composition occurs, that must be regarded as another example of Giandomenico's repetitive methods: and whether the drawing was done before the painting, or the painting before the drawing, must be decided on the evidence of each case.'3  Also particularly characteristic of the scenes of Venetian life series is what Byam Shaw describes as 'a dash of caricature', an element characteristic of the artist's later years, and surely inspired by his father's successful caricatures of single figures, which he often copied and reused in his own compositions.  This leaning towards caricature is discernible in the depiction of the present couple.  When creating these amusing scenes portraying the bourgeoisie or fashionable society, Giandomenico was clearly also influenced by popular theatre, and in particular by the realistic and innovative style of the famous Venetian playwright Carlo Goldoni, whom he must have known personally. 

Giandomenico reused part of this composition, the elegant couple and the young codega, in another drawing, now in Rotterdam.4  Smaller than the present sheet and very different in character, the five figures standing alongside the lantern bearer in that drawing are all grotesquely deformed, thereby losing the realistic touch found in the scenes of Venetian life.  The Rotterdam drawing was engraved, in the same direction, by Teodoro Viero;5 Gealt and Knox suggest that the form of its signature, Dom,o Tiepolo Inv. f, implies that it was done for the engraver, although the engraving is in fact slightly larger. 

Gealt and Knox have suggested that the pivotal figure of the codega could be inspired by one of Giovanni David's acquatints 'Le Gondolier' in his Ritratti vari, a publication printed in Venice in 1775.  As Aikema notes, however, the same young lantern bearer wearing a bauta already appears in the room of Carnival scenes, part of the late 1750s decoration in the Foresteria of the Villa Valmarana at Vicenza.  He is used again by Giandomenico in his Punchinellos waiting outside the circus, where he directs attention to a poster of an elephant attached outside the wooden gate of a circus.6  

1.  Exhib. cat., op. cit., Washington 1974, p. 53, and Aikema and Tuijn, op. cit., p. 144
2.   A.M. Gealt and G. Knox, op. cit., p. 151, no. 51
3.  J. Byam Shaw, The Drawings of Domenico Tiepolo, London 1962, p. 47
4.  Ibid., p. 187, no. 83, reproduced p. 186
5.  Ibid., p. 187, no. 83A, reproduced p. 186
6.  New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Robert Lehman collection, inv. no. 1975.1.469, see J. Byam-Shaw and G. Knox, op. cit., p. 209 , no. 172, reproduced

Old Master Drawings

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