Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Neptune and the Winds

Artist:
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (Italian, Venice 1696–1770 Madrid)
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
Round painted surface, 24 1/2 x 24 1/2 in. (62.2 x 62.2 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1937
Accession Number:
37.165.4
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 622
The sketch illustrates a celebrated passage from Virgil's Aeneid describing how Neptune calmed the winds to save Aeneas from shipwreck. Neptune, his arm raised, commands the winds to desist. Jupiter stands in front of the portico of a circular temple. In 1764–66 Tiepolo decorated a room in the Palacio Real, Madrid, with an apotheosis of Aeneas; the sketch may be related to this project.
Forthcoming
?Madrazo, Madrid (?sale, Paris, 1912); [Gimpel & Wildenstein, Paris, 1912; sold for Fr 40,000 to Biron]; Guillaume de Gontaut-Biron, marquis de Biron, Paris, later Geneva (1912–37; sold through Seligmann, Rey & Co. to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Tiepolo and his Contemporaries," March 14–April 24, 1938, no. 13.

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. Knoedler. "Masters of the Loaded Brush: Oil Sketches from Rubens to Tiepolo," April 4–29, 1967, no. 44.

Allentown, Pa. Allentown Art Museum. "The Circle of Canaletto," February 21–March 21, 1971, no. 40.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Venetian Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum," May 1–September 2, 1974, no catalogue.

Max Goering. Letter. April 1938, calls it Neptune as commander of the winds and identifies Jupiter and Juno in the background; calls it a sketch for a ceiling.

Hermann W. Williams Jr. "Tiepolo and His Contemporaries." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 33 (March 1938), p. 64, notes that the project for which this is a sketch was apparently never carried out.

M[ax]. Goering in Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Hans Vollmer. Vol. 33, Leipzig, 1939, pp. 151, 153, calls it a sketch for an unknown ceiling painting from Tiepolo's Spanish period.

Harry B. Wehle. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish, and Byzantine Paintings. New York, 1940, p. 284, ill.

George Knox. Catalogue of the Tiepolo Drawings in the Victoria and Albert Museum. London, 1960, p. 92, under no. 303, connects it with a sheet of studies for Neptune in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Antonio Morassi. A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings of G. B. Tiepolo. London, 1962, p. 33, fig. 255, calls it a sketch for a circular ceiling that was never executed; dates it about 1762–70, during Tiepolo's Spanish period.

Juan Antonio Gaya Nuño. Pintura Europea Perdida por España de Van Eyck a Tiépolo. Madrid, 1964, p. 92, no. 322, dates it to Tiepolo's Spanish period and calls it probably the first idea for a ceiling, not executed.

Alice Binion in Masters of the Loaded Brush: Oil Sketches from Rubens to Tiepolo. Exh. cat., Knoedler. New York, 1967, pp. 58–59, no. 44, pl. 44, suggests that the contrast between the elaborate Neptune group and the less finished forms of the rest of the picture might indicate a ceiling conception abandoned midway; notes that the figure of Neptune is "a near replica" of the one on Tiepolo's ceiling of the throne room in the royal palace, Madrid; rejects the idea that it could be a first idea for the ceiling in the hall of the Royal Guard, which also depicts the story of Aeneas; states that the winds in this work duplicate those in Tiepolo's ceiling in the Iphigenia room of the villa Valmarana.

Anna Pallucchini in L'opera completa di Giambattista Tiepolo. Milan, 1968, pp. 132–33, no. 283, ill., dates it about 1762–66.

Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 197, 474, 607.

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. 59–60, pl. 65, call it a very late work.

Massimo Gemin and Filippo Pedrocco. Giambattista Tiepolo: i dipinti, opera completa. Venice, 1993, p. 485, no. 515, ill., call it possibly a sketch for a ceiling that either was never executed or remains unknown; erroneously state that Zeri and Gardner (1973) identify the figure of Jupiter as Aeneas.

Catherine Whistler. "Review of Gemin and Pedrocco 1993." Burlington Magazine 137 (September 1995), p. 626, suggests that it depicts "Juno ordering a seastorm to destroy the Trojan fleet," noting that this subject was depicted on the ceiling of one of the apartments of the Princes of the Asturias in the royal palace, Madrid, by Mariano Salvador Maella (about 1766, now covered by a false ceiling).

Keith Christiansen et al. in Giambattista Tiepolo, 1696–1770. Ed. Keith Christiansen. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1996, p. 333 n. 2 [Italian ed., "Giambattista Tiepolo, 1696–1996," Milan, 1996], calls it a sketch for an unspecified room in the royal palace, Madrid.

Filippo Pedrocco. Giambattista Tiepolo. Milan, 2002, pp. 307–8, no. 279, ill., relates it to "The Chariot of Aurora" (MMA 1997.117.7).

Xavier F. Salomon in Giambattista Tiepolo: "il miglior pittore di Venezia". Ed. Giuseppe Bergamini et al. Exh. cat., Villa Manin di Passariano. Codroipo, 2012, p. 249, under no. 46.



The subject is taken from Virgil's "Aeneid" and depicts Neptune calming the winds to save Aeneas from shipwreck. Neptune, holding his trident, appears at lower left above the winged figures of the winds. At center right, beneath the cornice of a circular temple, stands Jupiter with his eagle.

The picture is a sketch for an unknown ceiling decoration and dates from Tiepolo's Spanish period, 1762–70.
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