The picture depicts Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa investing Harold of Hochheim, Bishop of Würzburg, with the dukedom of Franconia. The event occurred in 1168. The picture is a preparatory study for one of the frescoes in the vault of the Kaisersaal (reception room) of the Residenz (the Prince-Bishop's Palace) in Würzburg. The cycle was carried out in 1751–52. The final composition shows a number of major changes and is contained in a gilt stucco surrounded with painted plaster curtains.
Tiepolo’s sketch is part of the original group of paintings purchased by the Museum in 1871. It was among the canvases by Tiepolo that Henry James (1872) saw in New York and defined as "tardy fruit of the Venetian efflorescence". The painting first appears in the 1830 exhibition catalogue of the collection of the English dealer Richard Abraham, where it is documented as having belonged to J. Taylor, and is called "a finished sketch" and described as representing "the presentation of banners, after a conquest, to one of the Roman Emperors, who is seated on his throne under a triumphal arch".
In 1750 Giambattista Tiepolo was called by Prince Bishop Karl Philipp von Greiffenklau to decorate the dining room and main staircase of the Residenz in Würzburg, designed by the architect Johann Balthasar Neumann and completed in 1744. In the dining room—now known as the Kaisersaal—Tiepolo painted three scenes with episodes from the life of Emperor Frederick I (ca. 1123–1190) known as Barbarossa. On the ceiling the artist represented Apollo Conducting Beatrice of Burgundy to Frederick I, on the south side of the room the Wedding of Frederick I to Beatrice of Burgundy, and on the north side the Investiture of Bishop Harold (see Additional Images, fig. 1). The last two scenes were painted on triangular spaces in the coving of the ceiling, framed by pre-existing stuccowork curtains. The MMA painting is a sketch or modello relating to the Investiture scene. Harold of Hochheim, Bishop of Würzburg, was invested as Duke of Franconia by Frederick I in 1168 and this would have been an important historical event to commemorate for his successor Prince Bishop von Greiffenklau. The final fresco was signed and dated by Tiepolo in 1752.
A sketch for the central part of the ceiling survives in the Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart, and another for the Wedding scene—and most likely a companion to the MMA canvas—is in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston. A further version of the Wedding is in the National Gallery, London, and is probably a later ricordo by Tiepolo’s son, Giovanni Domenico.
In the sketch Frederick Barbarossa is enthroned between the sculptures of Hercules and Minerva, under an elaborate all’antica loggia. The architectural elements are particularly indebted to Venetian sixteenth-century models, Paolo Veronese above all. Bishop Harold kneels in front of the emperor, surrounded by courtly figures dressed in seventeenth-century and fantastic outfits. In the final fresco the scene was expanded from a vertical to a horizontal format. The architecture was visibly reduced and Bishop Harold was given the face of Prince Bishop von Greiffenklau. It has been argued that Tiepolo’s use of a vertical format suggests his ignorance of the precise location of the frescoes and that, therefore, the sketches could have been painted in Italy before the artist moved to Würzburg.
[Xavier F. Salomon 2011]
J. Taylor, England; [Richard Abraham, London, by 1830–d. 1831; ?his estate, 1831–33; his estate sale, Phillips, London, June 28, 1831, no. 56, as "Giovanni Batista Tiepolo. A finished Sketch, representing the presentation of banners, after a conquest, to one of the Roman Emperors, who is seated on his throne under a triumphal arch . . .," bought in, or sold for £25.14 to "Smith PC"]; sale, Foster's, London, April 15, 1833, no. 114, as "Tiepolo. The installing of a bishop, a . . . sketch," for £10, bought in; ?John Rushout, 2nd Baron Northwick, Thirlestane House, Cheltenham (until d. 1859; his estate sale, Phillips, Thirlestane House, August 23, 1859, no. 1749, as "Tiepolo. A Sketch," for £18.18.0 to Farrer); ?[Farrer, London, from 1859]; [Léon Gauchez, Paris, and Alexis Febvre, Paris, until 1870; sold to Blodgett]; William T. Blodgett, Paris and New York (1870–71; sold half share to Johnston); William T. Blodgett, New York, and John Taylor Johnston, New York (1871; sold to MMA)
New York. American Academy of Fine Arts. "Italian, Flemish, Spanish, Dutch, French, and English Pictures . . . Brought to this Country by Mr. Richard Abraham . . . .," March 1830, no. 51 (as "A Finished Sketch," by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Temporary Exhibition," April 1906, no. 33 (as "Triumph of Ferdinand III").
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Taste of the Seventies," April 2–September 10, 1946, no. 55.
Honolulu Academy of Arts. "Four Centuries of European Painting," December 8, 1949–January 29, 1950, no. 14.
Art Gallery of Toronto. "Fifty Paintings by Old Masters," April 21–May 21, 1950, no. 45.
Detroit Institute of Arts. "Thirty-Eight Great Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 2–28, 1951, no catalogue.
Art Gallery of Toronto. "Thirty-Eight Great Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," November 14–December 12, 1951, no catalogue.
City Art Museum of St. Louis. "Thirty-Eight Great Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," January 6–February 4, 1952, no catalogue.
Seattle Art Museum. "Thirty-Eight Great Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," March 1–June 30, 1952, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Oil Sketches by 18th Century Italian Artists from New York Collections," January 30–March 21, 1971, no. 31.
Codroipo. Villa Manin di Passariano. "Tiepolo," June 27–October 31, 1971, no. 57.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Venetian Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum," May 1–September 2, 1974, no catalogue.
Leningrad [St. Petersburg]. State Hermitage Museum. "100 Paintings from the Metropolitan Museum," May 22–July 27, 1975, no. 12.
Moscow. State Pushkin Museum. "100 Paintings from the Metropolitan Museum," August 28–November 2, 1975, no. 12.
Stuttgart. Württembergisches Landesmuseum. "Die Zeit der Staufer," March 26–June 5, 1977, no. 1041.
Hanover. Forum des Landesmuseums. "Venedigs Ruhm im Norden," December 3, 1991–February 2, 1992, no. 76.
Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf im Ehrenhof. "Venedigs Ruhm im Norden," February 16–April 26, 1992, no. 76.
Fort Worth. Kimbell Art Museum. "Giambattista Tiepolo: Master of the Oil Sketch," September 18–December 12, 1993, no. 41.
Residenz Würzburg. "Der Himmel auf Erden: Tiepolo in Würzburg," February 15–May 19, 1996, no. 12.
Paris. Petit Palais. "Giambattista Tiepolo, 1696–1770," October 22, 1998–January 24, 1999, no. 61.
Martigny. Fondation Pierre Gianadda. "The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Chefs-d'œuvre de la peinture européenne," June 23–November 12, 2006, no. 5.
Barcelona. Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya. "Grandes maestros de la pintura europea de The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Nueva York: De El Greco a Cézanne," December 1, 2006–March 4, 2007, no. 3.
A Catalogue of Italian, Flemish, Spanish, Dutch, French, and English Pictures; which have been Collected in Europe and Brought to this Country by Mr. Richard Abraham, of New Bond Street, London. Exh. cat., American Academy of Fine Arts. New York, 1830, pp. 46–47, no. 51, as "A Finished Sketch," by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo; describes it as "the presentation of banners, after a conquest, to one of the Roman Emperors, who is seated on his throne under a triumphal arch, the grouping of the figures on each side of which, is admirable"; notes that it was formerly in the collection of J. Taylor, England.
Henry James. "The Metropolitan Museum's '1871 Purchase'." Atlantic Monthly (June 1872) [reprinted in John L. Sweeney, ed., "The Painter's Eye," London, 1956, p. 58], as by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.
F[ritz von]. Harck. "Berichte und Mittheilungen aus Sammlungen und Museen, über staatliche Kunstpflege und Restaurationen, neue Funde: Aus amerikanischen Galerien." Repertorium für Kunstwissenschaft 11 (1888), p. 73, questions the title "Triumph of Ferdinand III".
B[ernard]. Berenson. "Les peintures italiennes de New-York et de Boston." Gazette des beaux-arts, 3rd ser., 15 (March 1896), p. 203, calls it a good sketch for a ceiling.
Bernhard Berenson. The Venetian Painters of the Renaissance. 3rd ed. New York, 1897, p. 128.
Eduard Sack. Giambattista und Domenico Tiepolo: Ihr Leben und Ihre Werke. Hamburg, 1910, vol. 2, p. 227, no. 555, confuses it with 07.225.300, attributed to Giaquinto, formerly in the Museum's collection.
Morton H. Bernath. New York und Boston. Leipzig, 1912, p. 85, as the Triumph of Ferdinand III.
Joseph Breck. "Paintings and Drawings by Tiepolo in the Metropolitan Museum." Art in America 1 (January 1913), pp. 8, 11, fig. 3, points out that the subject is the investiture of Bishop Harold von Hochheim as Duke of Franconia by the Emperor Frederick I, and that the picture is a study for the fresco in the Kaisersaal of the Residenz in Würzburg; notes that the fresco is dated 1752, and dates the study about 1751–52.
Philip Hendy. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum: Catalogue of the Exhibited Paintings and Drawings. Boston, 1931, pp. 358–59, calls it a pendant to the Wedding of Frederick I and Beatrice of Burgundy (Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston), suggesting that Tiepolo may have painted the two sketches in Italy, before his arrival at Würzburg.
Arthur McComb. The Baroque Painters of Italy: An Introductory Historical Survey. Cambridge, Mass., 1934, p. 127.
Max Goering. Letter. April 1938, calls it a study for the Würzburg fresco and dates it about 1750.
Daniel Catton Rich. Loan Exhibition of Paintings, Drawings and Prints by the two Tiepolos: Giambattista and Giandomenico. Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. 1938, pp. 13, 24, no. 19, calls it a repetition of, rather than a study for, the Würzburg fresco.
M[ax]. Goering inAllgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Hans Vollmer. Vol. 33, Leipzig, 1939, pp. 149, 153.
Harry B. Wehle. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish, and Byzantine Paintings. New York, 1940, p. 282, ill.
Max Goering. "Wenig Bekannte und neu gefundene Werke von Giov. Batt. Tiepolo." Pantheon 17 (October–December 1944), p. 102, ill. p. 106, dates it 1751.
Harry B. Wehle. "Seventy-Five Years Ago." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 4 (April 1946), p. 201, ill. p. 206.
Antonio Morassi. G. B. Tiepolo: His Life and Work. London, 1955, p. 26.
Max H. Von Freeden and Carl Lamb. Das Meisterwerk des Giovanni Battista Tiepolo: Die Fresken der Würzburger Residenz. Munich, 1956, pp. 47, 113 n. 3, pl. 32, call it a preparatory study, not a repetition.
Michael Levey. The Eighteenth Century Italian Schools. London, 1956, pp. 103–4 nn. 9, 10, accepts the attribution to Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, but agrees with Rich [see Ref. 1938] that it is more likely to be a repetition than a preparatory sketch; suggests a connection to a work in the National Gallery depicting the marriage of Frederick I and Beatrice (no. 2100), which he attributes to Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo.
Paul Wescher. La prima Idea: Die Entwicklung der Ölskizze von Tintoretto bis Picasso. Munich, 1960, p. 50.
Antonio Morassi. A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings of G. B. Tiepolo. London, 1962, p. 33, fig. 316, dates it about 1751–52; calls it probably the first idea for the Würzburg fresco, and possibly the pendant to the Gardner picture.
Michael Levey. "Review of Morassi 1962." Art Bulletin 45 (September 1963), p. 293.
Anna Pallucchini inL'opera completa di Giambattista Tiepolo. Milan, 1968, p. 115, no. 199b, ill. p. 117, calls it a sketch for the fresco.
Michael Levey. The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Italian Schools. London, 1971, pp. 236–37 n. 13.
Aldo Rizzi. Mostra del Tiepolo. Exh. cat., Villa Manin di Passariano. Vol. , "Dipinti."[Milan], , p. 124, no. 57, ill.
Günter Passavant. "Mostra del Tiepolo: Zur Ausstellung in der Villa Manin di Passariano." Kunstchronik 24 (December 1971), pp. 364–65, fig. 6.
Rodolfo Pallucchini. "Tiepolo a Passariano." Arte veneta 25 (1971), p. 336.
Denys Sutton, ed. Letters of Roger Fry. New York, 1972, vol. 1, p. 255 n. 1 to letter no. 177 (March 2, 1906), lists it among works included in the 1906 exhibition.
Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 196, 485, 605.
Federico Zeri with the assistance of Elizabeth E. Gardner. Italian Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Venetian School. New York, 1973, pp. 55–56, pl. 60, state that "it is more than probable that it is the preparatory sketch painted shortly before" the fresco; consider the Gardner work a companion piece.
Philip Hendy. European and American Paintings in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Boston, 1974, p. 249, believes that the MMA and Gardner pictures were probably painted in Venice in 1749–50.
Francis Haskell. Rediscoveries in Art: Some Aspects of Taste, Fashion and Collecting in England and France. Ithaca, N.Y., 1976, p. 115.
Reiner Haussherr. Die Zeit der Staufer: Geschichte—Kunst—Kultur. Exh. cat., Württembergisches Landesmuseum. Stuttgart, 1977, vol. 1, pp. 742–43, no. 1041; vol. 2, fig. 696.
Frank Büttner. Giovanni Battista Tiepolo: Die Fresken in der Residenz zu Würzburg. Würzburg, 1980, pp. 12, 59, ill. p. 15, calls it a sketch for the fresco.
George Knox. Giambattista and Domenico Tiepolo: A Study and Catalogue Raisonné of the Chalk Drawings. Oxford, 1980, vol. 1, pp. 41, 49 n. 9, p. 302, attributes the London, Gardner, and MMA pictures to Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, and agrees with Levey [see Refs. 1956 and 1971] that none of them are true modellos; erroneously identifies the MMA and Gardner paintings with two works listed in the "Musée du Prince Youssoupoff," St. Petersburg, 1839, nos. 114 and 148, where they are attributed to Domenico [see email of January 30, 2002 in archive file].
Michael Levey. Giambattista Tiepolo: His Life and Art. New Haven, 1986, pp. 182–83, pl. 164, as "Homage to the Emperor"; calls it "somewhat puzzling as the original 'modello,' yet clearly from the hand of Giambattista Tiepolo himself"; notes that "Tiepolo seems to be recalling partly the 'Continence of Scipio' at the Villa Cordellina, and its preparatory sketch, and also aiming at an effect of much greater depth than he sought in the final fresco".
Aldo Rizzi. Giambattista Tiepolo: Disegni dai Civici Musei di Storia e Arte di Trieste. Exh. cat., Civico Museo Sartorio, Trieste. Milan, 1988, p. 26.
Hans Werner Grohn inVenedigs Ruhm im Norden. Exh. cat., Forum des Landesmuseums Hannover. Hanover, 1991, pp. 240–41, no. 76, ill. (color).
Georges Brunel. Tiepolo. [Paris], 1991, pp. 183–84.
Beverly Louise Brown. "Hannover and Düsseldorf: Venedigs Ruhm im Norden." Burlington Magazine 134 (April 1992), p. 274.
Beverly Louise Brown. Giambattista Tiepolo: Master of the Oil Sketch. Exh. cat., Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth. Milan, 1993, pp. 268–71, no. 41, ill. pp. 120 (color) and 268, believes that Tiepolo painted this sketch in Venice before seeing the space designated for the fresco, and that he added the two swags of green drapery later, presumably after seeing the existing stucco curtains that would frame his fresco.
Teresa Longyear. "Giambattista Tiepolo: The Energetic and Fluent Brush." Giambattista Tiepolo: Master of the Oil Sketch. Exh. cat., Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth. Milan, 1993, p. 67, fig. 39 (color detail).
George Knox. "Giambattista Tiepolo at Fort Worth." Apollo 139 (December 1993), p. 403.
Massimo Gemin and Filippo Pedrocco. Giambattista Tiepolo: i dipinti, opera completa. Venice, 1993, pp. 145, 424, no. 414a, ill.
Rodolfo Pallucchini. La pittura nel Veneto: il Settecento. Vol. 1, Milan, 1995, p. 439.
Keith Christiansen et al. inGiambattista Tiepolo, 1696–1770. Ed. Keith Christiansen. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1996, p. 310 n. 1 [Italian ed., "Giambattista Tiepolo, 1696–1996," Milan, 1996], believes that Tiepolo probably painted it in Venice, and disagrees with Brown (1993) that the curtains were added later.
Peter O. Krückmann inDer Himmel auf Erden: Tiepolo in Würzburg. Ed. Peter O. Krückmann. Exh. cat., Residenz Würzburg. Munich, 1996, vol. 1, pp. 83–84, no. 12, ill. (color).
Peter O. Krückmann. Heaven on Earth: Tiepolo, Masterpieces of the Würzburg Years. Munich, 1996, pp. 89–90, fig. 80 (color).
Rosella Mamoli Zorzi. "Tiepolo e gli scrittori angloamericani nell'Ottocento." Giambattista Tiepolo nel terzo centenario della nascita. Ed. Lionello Puppi. Padua, 1998, vol. 1, pp. 338–39, 343 n. 21, p. 344 n. 28, discusses Henry James's unfavorable response to the work of Tiepolo, including this sketch [see Ref. 1872].
Rosella Mamoli Zorzi. "Tiepolo, Henry James, and Edith Wharton." Metropolitan Museum Journal 33 (1998), pp. 211–14, 227 nn. 14, 15, 27, fig. 1.
Keith Christiansen. "The Ca' Dolfin Tiepolos." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 55 (Spring 1998), pp. 7, 9, fig. 5 (color).
Stéphane Loire and José de Los Llanos inGiambattista Tiepolo, 1696–1770. Exh. cat., Musée du Petit Palais. Paris, 1998, pp. 194, 196–97, 199–200, no. 61, ill. (color).
Hilliard T. Goldfarb. "Oil Sketches in the Practice of Tiepolo and his Studio at Würzburg." Festschrift für Konrad Oberhuber. Ed. Achim Gnann and Heinz Widauer. Milan, 2000, pp. 207, 209–10, 212–14 n. 16, fig. 2, follows Knox (1980) in incorrectly identifying the MMA and Gardner pictures with two paintings included in the 1839 inventory of the Youssoupoff collection; attributes the Gardner and London pictures to Giovanni Domenico and the MMA picture to Giovanni Battista, calling all three "scherzi": small, charming variants made after the frescoes themselves for private clients at the court of Würzburg.
Filippo Pedrocco. Giambattista Tiepolo. Milan, 2002, pp. 285–86, no. 222/3.a, ill.
Peter Stephan. "Im Glanz der Majestät des Reiches," Tiepolo und die Würzburger Residenz: Die Reichsidee der Schönborn und die politische Ikonologie des Barock. Weißenhorn, 2002, vol. 1, p. 84; vol. 2, p. 6, colorpl. 17.
Katharine Baetjer. "Buying Pictures for New York: The Founding Purchase of 1871." Metropolitan Museum Journal 39 (2004), pp. 173, 182, 218–19, 244–45, appendix 1A no. 149, ill. p. 218 and figs. 25 and 35 (installation photograph).
Mary Sprinson de Jesús inThe Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Chefs-d'œuvre de la peinture européenne. Exh. cat., Fondation Pierre Gianadda. Martigny, 2006, pp. 12, 44–46, no. 5, ill. (color) [Catalan ed., Barcelona, 2006, pp. 15, 30–33, no. 3, ill. (color, overall and details)].