Design for a Ceiling: Venice Receiving Homage

Gaspare Diziani Italian

Not on view

This dynamic composition, drawn in pen and ink and grey wash, has many points in common with the "Glorification of the Widmann Family", frescoed by Diziani on the ceiling of Palazzo Widmann, Venice, about 1755-1760. Banners and other military paraphernalia occur in this work, as do allegorical figures of Justice, Prudence, and Fame; putti support a tray of scrolls, and Time holds an empty shield flanked by an eagle, which may be emblematic of the Carinthian origins of the Widmann family. However, in the upper part of the fresco a winged figure crowns a representative of the family, while in the drawing a figure kneels before a personification of Venice.

A group of stylistically coherent drawings by Diziani can be compared to the Museum’s project for Palazzo Widmann: a pen sketch for the lower part of the present composition, with a few variations, is in the Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen and bears an old annotation, "coregio" (inv. no. Tu ital mag. vol. 6, 34). A second drawing in the Museum's collection (inv. 2009.31.5), acquired in 2009 from the late Joseph McCrindle, comes very close to the Palazzo Widmann ceiling project; while a study for the upper part of the composition is in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (Ward-Jackson 1980, no. 1001, repr.).

The sheet is annotated in the "Reliable Venetian Hand": The Metropolitan Museum of Art owns four other drawings with attributions by the "Reliable Venetian Hand" (see acc. nos. 66.53.4, 61.204, 66.53.6, 1989.172), all of them considered to be correct. These annotations, in neat, slanting letters, giving the artist's name and place of origin, are the work of a still-unidentified Venetian collector of the eighteenth century of taste and exceptional erudition.

Design for a Ceiling: Venice Receiving Homage, Gaspare Diziani (Italian, Belluno 1689–1767 Venice), Pen and black ink, brush and gray-green and blue-gray wash, over black chalk

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