Lot 50
  • 50

Giovanni Battista Piazzetta

150,000 - 200,000 USD
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  • Giovanni Battista Piazzetta
  • Saint Theresa in ecstasy
  • oil on canvas


Heimann Collection, Milan;
With Adolph Loewi, Venice;
Colonna Collection, Turin.


Lausanne, Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Les Trésors de l’art Vénitien, 1 April – 4 September 1947.


W. Arslan, “Studi sulla pittura veneziana del primo Settecento”, La Critica d’Arte, 1936;
R. Pallucchini, “Opere inedite di Giambattista Piazzetta”, L’Arte, vol. 7, no. 3, 1936, pp. 187, 188, illustrated p. 189, fig. 1;
R. Pallucchini (ed.), Les Trésors de l’art Vénitien, exhibition catalogue, Lausanne, Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, no. 86;
R. Pallucchini, Piazzetta, Milan 1956, pp. 32 and 49, colour pl. XIII;
R. Pallucchini and A. Mariuz, L’Opera completa del Piazzetta, Milan, 1982, p. 93, no. 77, illustrated p. 83 and in colour pl. XXVIII.


The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, simonparkes@msn.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. This work has been recently restored and could be hung in its current condition. The canvas has a hundred year old lining which is still effective. The paint layer is clean, carefully retouched and varnished. Under ultraviolet light, a very few retouches can be seen in the sky. The most concentrated patch of retouching is in the lower right, but even here the retouches are very minimal. There are hardly any retouches in the face, a spot or two in the tip of the nose and in the side of the face below the mouth. This is a picture that can be appreciated for its fine condition, and what retouching there is has been well applied.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

This striking and immediate bust length depiction of Saint Theresa in Ecstasy is a classic example of Piazzetta’s dramatically framed images of single figure saints. He executed two additional versions of this specific composition, though Pallucchini and Arslan both argued that the present version should be considered the prime example (see Pallucchini and Mariuz, 1982, p. 93; and Arslan 1936). One of the other versions is in the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm differs very slightly in the background and arrangement of the rosary beads, and the third version (location unknown) is known from an engraving by Marco Pitteri (Pallucchini and Mariuz, op.cit., no. 76). That version includes a crucifix (in lieu of rosary beads) and a skull in the lower left corner, which has previously led to the belief that the present canvas is a fragment, though comparison with the Stockholm picture confirms otherwise, and that Piazzetta conceived of this austere composition as a complete image. Piazzetta did indeed engage with this general figural type-- with the female Saint leaning back, eyes closed, in quiet contemplative ecstasy--on other occasions, for instance his Saint Margaret in Ecstasy, for which he executed at least two examples (Tommasi collection, Cortona and Private Collection, Padua). 

Born in Venice, Piazzetta received his training there, before moving to Bologna at the age of 20. He was already a skilled draftsman when he entered the studio of Giuseppe Maris Crespi. Piazzetta stayed in Bologna for two years, at which time he returned permanently to Venice. The marked tenebrism of his style, which increased over time, must reflect not only the Bolognese works to which he would been exposed, such as those by the Carracci and Guercino, but probably reveal as well the influence of the latter’s Roman-period works.