This is a model for a ceiling of the ducal palace, Genoa (destroyed). At the top of the central staircase Jacopo Giustiniani is shown kneeling before a personification of the Ligurian Republic. The Giustiniani coat of arms and that of Genoa are on two banners. A female figure in Greek dress in the left corner represents the island of Chios; the scroll she holds has the initials V.I. and 1562, in reference to a sixteenth-century governor of the island, Vincenzo Giustiniani. Figures in oriental dress on the right side allude to the commercial enterprises of the Giustiniani in Asia Minor and the islands of the Greek archipelago.
The Artist: Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo was the son of Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, the greatest Venetian painter of eighteenth-century Italy, and his wife Cecilia Guardi, sister of the Venetian view painter Francesco Guardi. Domenico studied under his father and later became his chief assistant until the latter’s death in 1770; he traveled with his father to Würzburg in 1750–53 to assist in the decoration of the prince-bishop’s palace (see 71.121, 1977.1.3) and to Madrid in 1762–70 to work for Charles III (see 37.165.3, 1997.117.7). However, from the age of twenty Domenico also produced his own independent work. His commissioned altarpieces and other projects reveal that he could paint in his father’s grand manner, but he was personally more inclined toward subject matter depicting everyday life, and developed a direct, lively style to create works such as his frescoes in the foresteria of the Villa Valmarana, near Vicenza, in 1757. Some of his last paintings were frescoes for his family’s villa near Mestre (now in the Ca’ Rezzonico, Venice), charming scenes featuring the commedia dell’arte character Pulcinella and other depictions of contemporary life. Domenico was also a fine draftsman and printmaker. He often reproduced his own or his father’s paintings but also created original works, for example a series of etchings depicting the Flight into Egypt while in Würzburg (2012.136.416) and later in Venice a series of drawings depicting Pulcinella (1975.1.473).
The Picture: Painted in 1783, this is a sketch for one of Domenico’s last major public commissions: the ceiling fresco for the grand council chamber (salone del maggior consiglio) in the ducal palace in Genoa. The picture was unidentified when purchased by The Met in 1913 and its early provenance is unknown. Both the style and the composition are indebted to Giovanni Battista’s grand ceiling paintings, and the work remained attributed to him until 1939 when Max Goering listed it as the Glorification of Jacopo Giustiniani by Giovanni Domenico.
The Commission: Most of our information about the circumstances of the painting’s creation come from Stefano Rebaudi, who in 1940 published documents relating to the commission. After a fire destroyed part of the ducal palace in Genoa in 1777, the local Giustiniani family in 1782 agreed to underwrite the replacement decoration for the ceiling of the grand council chamber. It was decided to hold a competition for the commission, and the subject matter was set down in detail: the dominion over the eastern Mediterranean island of Chios by the Giustiniani family, who administered the island as a trade outpost from 1346 until it fell to the Turks in 1566. The fifteen submissions were exhibited in the cloister of the church of Santa Maria di Castello in Genoa in August–September 1783. Three finalists were chosen, and Tiepolo was named the winner in 1784. He began work on the fresco in April 1785 and completed it in November of that year. Although initially enthusiastically received, the subject was obscure and the style was later considered outdated; the fresco fell into disrepair and was eventually replaced in 1866.
The Subject Matter: See Additional Images, fig. 1, for a diagram identifying the major figures depicted in the painting. At the top of the steps at lower center is the crowned female figure personifying the Ligurian Republic. Immediately behind her are the tower of La Lanterna, Genoa’s famous harbor lighthouse, and the figure of Justice holding a balance. Flanking her are statues of Hercules and Minerva. To the right are banners with the coats of arms of the Giustiniani family (a crowned eagle above a tower) and the city of Genoa (a red cross surmounted by a crown). The fifteenth-century naval hero Jacopo Giustiniani, accompanied by winged Victory holding a crown, kneels before her, offering the sword he had won in 1435 from Alfonso, king of Aragon and Sicily. At the lower left corner is the personification of the island of Chios—a female figure wearing a turban and holding a scroll. Along the lower right side are various turbaned figures with merchandise representing trade in the eastern Mediterranean. Further up is the deck of a ship with the figure of Neptune offering the contents of a cornucopia to the god Janus—representing Genoa—who is accompanied by the figures of Justice, Commerce, and Fortitude. Along the top edge are the figures of Giustiniani family members martyred by the Turks.
Related Works: This sketch is universally accepted as the one submitted by Tiepolo for the competition and exhibited at Santa Maria di Castello, and therefore dates to 1783. According to Knox (1979), a lost pen and wash drawing (see Burlington Magazine 1965) of the composition preceded The Met’s sketch. An album of Domenico’s drawings sold at auction (see Christie’s 1965) included seven sheets with figure studies possibly related to the commission.
[Gretchen Wold 2017]
Inscription: Inscribed: (on log) MZ; (on bale) T/MA; (on box) I/B·T; (on banner suspended from trumpet) VIRTUS (virtue); (on scroll) CIVITAS CHY (city of Chios) / V.I. (VINCENZO GIUSTINIANI) / 1562
?Osnago family, Padua and Milan; [Trotti, Paris, until 1913, as by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Allegory of the Naval Battle of Lepanto; sold to MMA]
Genoa. Santa Maria di Castello. August 24–September 4, 1783.
Wooster, Ohio. Josephine Long Wishart Museum of Art. "Exhibition of Paintings of French, Italian, Dutch, Flemish and German Masters, lent by The Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 20–December 15, 1944, unnumbered cat. (p. 9).
Venice. Palazzo d'Italia ai Giardini and Ca' Rezzonico (Museo del Settecento Veneziano). "Mostra del Tiepolo," June 3–October 7, 1951, no. 129 (as "La Gloria di Jacopo Giustiniani").
Akron, Ohio. Akron Art Institute. February 19–March 23, 1952.
London, Canada. McIntosh Memorial Gallery, University of Western Ontario. "14th - 15th - 16th - 17th - 18th Century Italian Masters," March 24–April 24, 1956, unnumbered cat.
Baltimore Museum of Art. "Age of Elegance: The Rococo and Its Effect," April 25–June 14, 1959, no. 206.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Oil Sketches by 18th Century Italian Artists from New York Collections," January 30–March 21, 1971, no. 35.
Codroipo. Villa Manin di Passariano. "Tiepolo," June 27–October 31, 1971, no. 85.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Venetian Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum," May 1–September 2, 1974, no catalogue.
Birmingham, Ala. Birmingham Museum of Art. "The Tiepolos: Painters to Princes and Prelates," January 8–February 19, 1978, no. 95.
Springfield, Mass. Museum of Fine Arts. "The Tiepolos: Painters to Princes and Prelates," March 19–May 7, 1978, no. 95.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Domenico Tiepolo: Drawings, Prints, and Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," January 23–April 27, 1997, no catalogue.
Genoa. Palazzo Ducale. "El siglo de los Genoveses e una lunga storia di arte e splendori nel palazzo dei dogi," December 4, 1999–May 28, 2000, no. XV.7.
Martigny. Fondation Pierre Gianadda. "The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Chefs-d'œuvre de la peinture européenne," June 23–November 12, 2006, no. 10.
B[ryson]. B[urroughs]. "Allegorical Sketch for a Ceiling by G. B. Tiepolo." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 8 (April 1913), pp. 70–71, ill., attributes this sketch to Giovanni Battista Tiepolo; notes that the seated lady typifies the city of Genoa, judging from the coat of arms on a flag nearby.
Arthur McComb. The Baroque Painters of Italy: An Introductory Historical Survey. Cambridge, Mass., 1934, p. 127, attributes it to Giambattista Tiepolo.
M[ax]. Goering inAllgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Hans Vollmer. Vol. 33, Leipzig, 1939, p. 160, as The Glorification of Jacopo Giustiniani by Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo.
Harry B. Wehle. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish, and Byzantine Paintings. New York, 1940, p. 289, ill., attributes it to Domenico Tiepolo and identifies it as the sketch with which he won the commission to paint the ceiling of the grand council chamber of the ducal palace in Genoa.
Stefano Rebaudi. "L'affresco di Gian Domenico Tiepolo nel soffitto della Gran Sala del Palazzo Ducale in Genova." Giornale storico e letterario della Liguria 16 (1940), pp. 66–68, documents the circumstances of the commission for the ceiling painting of the grand council chamber of the ducal palace in Genoa, noting that a contest was held to determine who would secure the commission, fifteen sketches were submitted and displayed in 1783, Domenico Tiepolo was selected in 1784, he began work in April 1785, and the painting was unveiled on November 14, 1785.
Carlo Donzelli. I pittori veneti del Settecento. Florence, 1957, p. 231, lists it under other works by Domenico as "La gloria di S. Giustiniano".
Rodolfo Pallucchini. La pittura veneziana del Settecento. Venice, 1960, p. 261, fig. 693.
Burlington Magazine 107 (September 1965), p. xxiii, illustrates a drawing (11 1/2 x 8 1/4 in.) believed to be a sketch for this painting, requesting information on its whereabouts.
Catalogue of Drawings by Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo. Christie's, London. June 15, 1965, pp. 3, 21–22, 49, associates this painting with seven drawings being sold from an album in the collection of the Rt. Hon. the Earl Beauchamp (nos. 50–54, 79, 146).
Adriano Mariuz. Giandomenico Tiepolo. Venice, , pp. 128, 154, pl. 322, identifies it as the "modelletto" with which Domenico won the competition in August 1784; observes that the composition derives from Giambattista's ceiling in the throne room of the Royal Palace, Madrid.
Aldo Rizzi. Mostra del Tiepolo. Exh. cat., Villa Manin di Passariano. Vol. , "Dipinti."[Milan], , pp. 167, 179, no. 85, ill., identifies it as the "modelletto" with which Domenico won the competition in September 1783.
F. Pesenti inLa pittura a Genova e in Liguria dal Seicento al primo Novecento. Ed. Colette Bozzo Dufour. Genoa, 1971, vol. 2, p. 402.
Günter Passavant. "Mostra del Tiepolo: Zur Ausstellung in der Villa Manin di Passariano." Kunstchronik 24 (December 1971), pp. 368–69, fig. 8b (detail), suggests political overtones in the treatment of the figure of Chios.
Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 198, 509, 606, note that a contemporary description of the finished ceiling fresco indicates that Tiepolo made several changes and additions from the earlier sketch.
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. 67–69, pls. 82–83 (overall and detail), note that here Domenico was dependent on his father's style a decade after the latter's death.
George Knox. "Tiepolo Paintings at Birmingham (Alabama)." Burlington Magazine 120 (March 1978), p. 189.
George Knox. "'Primi Pensieri' by Domenico Tiepolo, and a New Painting." Master Drawings 17 (Spring 1979), p. 33, accepts the drawing illustrated in the September 1965 Burlington Magazine as a study for the ceiling, the competition for which Giandomenico won, "possibly" with this sketch.
George Knox. Giambattista and Domenico Tiepolo: A Study and Catalogue Raisonné of the Chalk Drawings. Oxford, 1980, vol. 1, p. 309, no. P.169, states "that this may well be the competition sketch of 1783".
Monica De Re inLa pittura in Italia: il Settecento. Ed. Giuliano Briganti. 2nd ed. Milan, 1990, vol. 2, p. 880.
Lilli Ghio and Massimo Bartoletti inLa pittura in Italia: il Settecento. Ed. Giuliano Briganti. 2nd ed. Milan, 1990, vol. 1, p. 27.
Adriano Mariuz inDomenico Tiepolo: Master Draftsman. Ed. Adelheid M. Gealt and George Knox. Exh. cat., Indiana University Art Museum. Bloomington, 1996, p. 29 [Italian ed., "Giandomenico Tiepolo, maestria e gioco: disegni dal mondo," Milan, 1996].
Linda Wolk-Simon. "Domenico Tiepolo: Drawings, Prints, and Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 54 (Winter 1996/97), pp. 41–44, fig. 64 (color), notes that although the design and conception are indebted to his father, Domenico's figures are "even more audaciously foreshortened".
Rodolfo Pallucchini. La pittura nel Veneto: il Settecento. 2nd ed. Milan, 1996, vol. 2, p. 586.
George Knox inDomenico Tiepolo: Master Draftsman. Ed. Adelheid M. Gealt and George Knox. Exh. cat., Indiana University Art Museum. Bloomington, 1996, p. 48 [Italian ed., "Giandomenico Tiepolo, maestria e gioco: disegni dal mondo," Milan, 1996, pp. 47–48], refers to it as the competition sketch, and the lost drawing (see Burlington Magazine 1965) as "the most interesting preparatory study".
William L. Barcham inThe Dictionary of Art. Ed. Jane Turner. Vol. 30, New York, 1996, p. 864, calls the design an amalgam of Giovanni Battista's frescoes in the Gesuati, Venice, and the Palacio Real, Madrid, noting that Domenico's sketch reveals that he had studied his father's use of political iconography.
Caterina Olcese Spingardi inEl siglo de los Genoveses e una lunga storia di arte e splendori nel palazzo dei dogi. Exh. cat., Palazzo Ducale, Genoa. Milan, 1999, p. 420, no. XV.7, ill. pp. 406 (detail, color), 421 (color).
Maurizia Migliorini. "Tra divulgazione e storiografia artistica." Pittura e decorazione a Genova e in Liguria nel Settecento. Ed. Ezia Gavazza and Lauro Magnani. Genoa, 2000, p. 390.
Everett Fahy inThe Wrightsman Pictures. Ed. Everett Fahy. New York, 2005, p. 103.
Katharine Baetjer inThe Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Chefs-d'œuvre de la peinture européenne. Exh. cat., Fondation Pierre Gianadda. Martigny, 2006, pp. 64–68, no. 10, ill. (color, overall and detail).
Artist: Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo (Italian, Venice 1727–1804 Venice)Date: 1727–1804Medium: Pen and black ink, brush and gray wash, over traces of black chalk. Framing lines in pen and ink. Arched topAccession: 37.165.66On view in:Not on view