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37

Giovanni Battista Piazzetta

A boy in profile, holding an apple

Estimate:

40,000 - 60,000 USD

Giovanni Battista Piazzetta

Giovanni Battista Piazzetta

A boy in profile, holding an apple

A boy in profile, holding an apple

Estimate:

40,000 - 60,000 USD

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Giovanni Battista Piazzetta

Venice 1682 - 1754

A boy in profile, holding an apple



Black chalk, heightened with white chalk, on blue paper

397 by 271 mm; 15⅝ by 10¾ in.

Hinged to a modern backing. A substantial portion of the upper edge of the sheet is currently covered by the mount. The left and right edges are a little uneven and there are some old creases to the paper, possibly integral to the sheet, around the neck and ear of the boy. There is a minor water stain to the left of the sheet and minor studio stains in places. There is a little rubbing to the chalk but it generally remains in good condition throughout, as does the white heightening. The blue paper retains much of its original color. Sold in a carved 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.

NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.

Probably William Beckford, Fonthill Abbey,
thence by descent to Mrs John Beckford,
sale, London, Sotheby’s, 18 November 1959, lot 2;
K.J. Hewett, Bog Farm, Kent,
from whom acquired by the present owners

Piazzetta's reputation as a talented and brilliant draughtsman was established chiefly on the basis of studies such as this, which became known as 'teste di carattere'. His patrons and biographers often lamented his slowness in completing his paintings, but it seems he was able to produce very quickly these distinctive, finished and pictorial drawings, which became an important source of income for him, from early in his career.  Generally representing heads or half-length figures, executed on large sheets of bluish paper, these impressive studies soon became extremely popular with collectors and connoisseurs of Piazzetta's own time, and remain so today. They were conceived as works of art in their own right, to be framed and hung on the wall among paintings.


Speaking of the artist's technique in these remarkable works, Alice Binion observed ‘..the extraordinary tactility of the figures was obtained by his singular technique of modelling by smudging the chalk instead of using hatching,’1 a technique which creates a subtle sfumato effect full of nuances, like that of a painter in pastels. Nowhere in Piazzetta's drawn oeuvre is this technical brilliance more evident than in his teste di carattere, which are rightly the best known and most admired of all the artist's drawings.


1. The Glory of Venice, exhib. cat., London, Royal Academy, and Washington D.C., National Gallery of Art, 1994, p. 148