This recently discovered painting is a very early work by Giambattista Tiepolo. The picture can be dated on the basis of style to circa 1720, when the artist was in his early twenties, and may be compared with other small-scale canvases painted around this time; notably his Suicide of Aiace Telamonio.1 The two paintings share the same colour palette and the almost supernatural ambient light, inspired by the works of Giambattista Piazzetta and Federico Bencovich (whose style has been described as 'neotenebroso'). The actively-posed figures in this and other paintings from this period also recall Sebastiano Ricci, whose return to Venice from England in 1718 almost certainly had a profound influence on the young Tiepolo. It is probably from around this time that the present work dates; just prior to the four mythological paintings in the Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice, showing scenes from Ovid's Metamorphoses (The Rape of Europa, Diana and Actaeon, Diana and Callisto, and Apollo and Marsyas), which were executed in 1720-21.2 Although larger in scale, they share the 'fantasy' landscape setting of Bacchus and Ariadne and the composition of the latter, with its sweeping vista on the right and group of figures with putti to the left, echoes that in Tiepolo's Rape of Europa from the aforementioned Accademia set.3
1 Sold, New York, Christie's, 12 January 1996, lot 139. See M. Gemin & F. Pedrocco, Giambattista Tiepolo, Venice 1993, p. 239, cat. no. 57, reproduced.
2 Gemin & Pedrocco, op. cit., p. 228, cat. nos. 29-32, all reproduced.
3 Ibid., cat. no. 29, reproduced in colour on p. 25, plate 6.