Lot 101
  • 101

GIOVANNI DOMENICO TIEPOLO | Head study of a Native American

20,000 - 30,000 EUR
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Head study of a Native American
  • Black chalk, heightened with white chalk, on blue paper ;bears numbering in pen and brown ink, lower left : 855
  • 294 by 201 mm; 11 1/2 by 8 in


Giovanni Domenico Bossi (1767-1853), by descent to his daughter Maria Theresa Karoline Bossi (1825-1881), by descent to her husband,
Carl Christian Friedrich Beyerlen (1826-1881), his sale Stuggart, H.G Gutekunst, 27 March 1882 (lot number unknown);
Dr. Hans Wendland, 1927;
Leo Franklyn;
Paul Wallraf, London, until 1977 (a glued label on the verso with numbering: 37);
with James Faber Ltd., London, from whom purchased by the present owner, 31 March 2010


George Knox, Giambattista and Domenico Tiepolo: a study and catalogue raisonné of the chalk drawings, Oxford 1980, p. 287, no. M.657, not reproduced


Window mounted. There are traces of some light soiling and staining at the top edge and also to the left of the cheek of the figure and some scattered foxing. Image quite strong. Sold in a carved wooden and gilded French style frame.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Expressive and vigourously drawn, this dramatic head study of a native American was previously given to Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, but is stylistically closer to his son Giovanni Domenico’s studies in chalk. The close working relationship between father and son meant that Domenico often made copies after Giovanni Battista’s paintings and drawings; they also collaborated on many projects and commissions which meant their work was inextricably linked.  Due to the exotic subject of the present character study it may relate to Giovanni Battista’s work at the Residence palace, Würzburg, an extensive and highly influential commission that occupied the artist between 1750 and 1753.  A number of native American figures appear in the fresco, Allegory of America: Apollo and the Four Continents, painted over the cornice of the stairwell at Würzburg.   At least two figures wearing very similar feathered headdresses are included in the fresco, one seen from behind, the other to the left, immediately above the crocodile, but neither corresponds exactly with the present drawing. All the same, the thematic connection with the Würzburg ceiling is indisputable, and the artist would surely have made many more related figure studies than those that correspond directly with figures in the final composition.  

In his essay, ‘The Fiery and Poetic Fantasy of Giambattista Tiepolo’, Keith Christiansen aptly comments on Giovanni Battista’s interest in the exotic observing that his ‘love of exotic costume – whether used to introduce an element of festivity or strangeness (what contemporaries referred to as bizzarria) or simply to add another dimension to the story – is an intrinsic part of Tiepolo’s imagination:  one well documented in his numerous drawings of individual figures and heads.’1  This bold and powerful study embodies Giovanni Battista’s vivid imagination and clearly demonstrates how he inspired his son to produce numerous character head studies of his own.

The present drawing came from the important group of Tiepolo drawings in the Bossi-Beyerlen collection. For a discussion of the contents and dispersal of this collection and an explanation of the numbering on the verso (which indicate their prices), see George Knox, op.cit., vol. I pp. 200-291.

1. Giambattista Tiepolo, exhib. cat., Venice, Museo del Settecento Veneziano Ca’Rezzonico; New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1996-1997, pp. 278-279