Possibly painted in Spain, where the artist traveled with his father, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, to fresco ceilings in the Palacio Real, Madrid in 1762, this painting vividly evokes life in their native Venice. The white masks (morette) and short black veils (baute) were worn by elegant residents and visitors during the carnival season. Small cabins (felzi) were installed on gondolas in winter. The silvery tonality and delicate paint handling make this an exceptional work by the artist.
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Credit Line:Bequest of Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, 2019
A Venetian couple, dressed in costumes typical of the carnival season, are about to step into a gondola by the side of a canal in front of the entrance to a walled garden. They wear tricorni, black three-cornered hats used by both men and women in eighteenth-century Venice, and baute, characteristically Venetian garments of black cloth worn about the lower part of the face and over the shoulders and chest. The man wears a moreta, a white Venetian mask that covers only half of the face. The woman also has one, propped on top of her tricorno. She wears a tabarro (a type of black cape), a pale pink dress with large cuffs of white lace at her elbows, and long white gloves. Masks were worn during special periods announced officially by the Venetian Republic, especially during carnival, which in Venice started early and lasted from Saint Stephen’s Day, December 26, until the beginning of Lent. Lower-class young men and boys did not participate in the masquerade. The gondolieri of Venetian families wore handsome costumes that repeated the colors of the families’ coats of arms. In the Departure of the Gondola, the pale blue, gold, and white of the gondolieri’s richly textured knickers reappear on the four palafitte (the striped posts between which the gondola is moored) and in the attire of the three young men standing by the archway. It has been suggested that the latter are young aristocrats, but since their costumes repeat the colors of the household, they must be liveried servants.
Within Domenico Tiepolo’s oeuvre, the Departure of the Gondola is exceptional because of the delicacy with which it is painted. By contrast, another painting by Domenico in the Museum's collection, the Dance in the Country (1980.67), is boldly rendered in large brushstrokes and heavy impasto. Perhaps because of its refined quality, the Departure of the Gondola has been published several times as a work by Domenico’s father, Giambattista. Indeed, it has the cool silvery tonality of Giambattista’s sketches for the Aranjuez altarpieces. Yet it is signed, and there can be no doubt that Domenico was responsible for its design and execution. Although Domenico’s Spanish output remains to be carefully analyzed, it would appear that he was susceptible to his father’s late manner, and the style of the Departure of the Gondola tends to support the hypothesis that it was painted during the mid-1760s in Madrid.
The Departure of the Gondola is often said to be the pendant to The Burchiello (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna), which is closely related in subject, style, and horizontal format. The Vienna canvas is slightly larger than The Met's painting—an inch taller and two inches wider, a negligible difference for paintings of this age. It represents the burchiello, a large omnibus boat that plied the Brenta canal between Venice and Padua. Although the pictures make a plausible pairing of upper- and lower-class transport, there is no record of their ever having been together. The Burchiello almost certainly remained in Domenico’s possession until his death in Venice, whereas The Met's painting has a Spanish provenance. While there is no record of the Burchiello in Spain, Domenico may have painted both pictures in Madrid as nostalgic evocations of Venice when he was far from home.
During the eighteenth century, paintings of everyday life were popular, and several Venetian artists—among them Pietro Longhi (1702–1785) and Francesco Guardi (1712–1793) and his brother Antonio (1699–1760)—painted social gatherings in domestic interiors. These charming scenes often have a faintly theatrical air, a quality not shared by the Departure of the Gondola, though it is carefully composed with an almost symmetrical arrangement of spectators looking toward the center. It captures the actuality of a fleeting moment, enlarging upon the glimpses of ordinary life that appear in Venetian topographical views, such as the etchings of Michiel Giovanni Marieschi (1710–1743) in which elegant women board gondolas.
[2014; adapted from Fahy 2005]
Inscription: Signed (on the column on the left): DOM.o / TIEPOLO
Andrés Avelino Salabert y Arteaga, 8th Marqués de la Torrecilla, Madrid (by 1910–d. 1925); by descent to his grandnephew, Luis de Figueroa y Pérez de Guzmán el Bueno, Conde de Quintanilla, Madrid (by 1951–59; sold for $50,000 to Pinakos and Knoedler); [Pinakos, Inc. (Rudolf J. Heinemann), and Knoedler, New York, 1959–60; sold for $79,400 to Wrightsman]; Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, New York (1960–his d. 1986; cat., 1973, no. 28); Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, New York (1986–d. 2019; cat., 2005, no. 31)
Venice. Palazzo d'Italia ai Giardini and Ca' Rezzonico (Museo del Settecento Veneziano). "Mostra del Tiepolo," June 3–October 7, 1951, no. 122 bis (lent by Don Louis de Figueros y Pérez de Guzman El Bueno, Conte de Quintanilla, Madrid).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Paintings from Private Collections: Summer Loan Exhibition," July 6–September 4, 1960, no. 120 (lent by Mr. and Mrs. Charles B. Wrightsman).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Bellini to Tiepolo: Summer Loans at The Metropolitan Museum of Art," June 29–August 31, 1993, unnum. checklist.
THIS WORK MAY NOT BE LENT, BY TERMS OF ITS ACQUISITION BY THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART.
Eduard Sack. Giambattista und Domenico Tiepolo: Ihr Leben und Ihre Werke. Hamburg, 1910, vol. 1, p. 120, fig. 106a; vol. 2, p. 210, no. 447, publishes it as by Giovanni Battista, in the collection of the Marqués de Torrecilla, Madrid; calls it a unique little picture full of delicacy and liveliness and a cabinet painting of the first rank.
Pompeo Molmenti. Tiepolo: La vie et l'oeuvre du peintre. Paris, 1911, p. 162, judging by a reproduction, calls it an authentic and interesting work by Giovanni Battista.
Gino Fogolari. "In tabarro e bauta." Illustrazione italiana (color supplement: Settecento Veneziano) no. 18 (May 3, 1925), ill. p. 1, illustrates it as by Giovanni Battista alongside a detail from an etching by Michiel Giovanni Marieschi showing a similar scene of a young woman boarding a gondola.
O[swald]. Götz, G[eorg]. Swarzenski, and A[lfred]. Wolters. Ausstellung von Meisterwerken alter Malerei aus Privatbesitz. Exh. cat., Städelsches Kunstinstitut. Frankfurt, 1926, p. 78, under no. 225, mention it as the original by Giovanni Battista of a copy (oil on canvas, 42.3 x 71 cm) in the collection of Direktor Gustav M. Schneider, Frankfurt, that they attribute to an eighteenth-century Venetian painter.
Giuseppe Fiocco. "Giambattista Tiepolo in Ispagna." Nuova antologia 390 (April 1, 1937), p. 333, as by Giovanni Battista; mentions a "miserevole ripetizione" by Lorenzo Tiepolo, without noting its location.
Loan Exhibition of Paintings, Drawings and Prints by the Two Tiepolos: Giambattista and Giandomenico. Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, 1938, p. 27, under no. 25, mentions it among genre paintings attributed to Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.
M[ax]. Goering inAllgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Hans Vollmer. Vol. 33, Leipzig, 1939, pp. 151, 153, as by Giovanni Battista.
Antonio Morassi. "Domenico Tiepolo." Emporium 93 (June 1941), pp. 274–75, attributes it to Giovanni Domenico, mentioning it in conjunction with "The Burchiello" (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna), which he also assigns to Domenico.
Giuseppe Fiocco. "Tiepolo in Spagna." Le arti 5 (October–November 1942), p. 9, fig. 11, states that it was painted by Giovanni Battista in Madrid and that it displays the painter's nostalgia for Venice; dates it 1765, relating it to a group of works in the collection of Mr. Blake at the United States consulate in Tangiers.
Giulio Lorenzetti inMostra del Tiepolo. Exh. cat., Palazzo d'Italia ai Giardini and Ca' Rezzonico (Museo del Settecento Veneziano). Venice, 1951, pp. 171–72, no. 122 bis, ill., notes that it is signed "DOM.º TIEPOL" on the cartello attached to the column on the left edge of the picture, and attributes both this work and "The Burchiello" to Giovanni Domenico.
Terisio Pignatti. Tiepolo. [Verona], 1951, p. 152, fig. 115 (detail), as in the Quintanilla collection, Madrid; attributes it to Giovanni Domenico and dates it about 1770.
Luitpold Dussler. "Die Tiepolo-Ausstellung in Venedig." Kunstchronik 5 (January 1952), p. 9.
F[rancisco]. J[avier]. Sánchez Cantón. J. B. Tiepolo en España. Madrid, 1953, p. 26, states that the Marqués de Torrecilla owned it for many years but that its previous provenance is unknown.
Antonio Morassi. "Giambattista Tiepolo's 'Girl with a Lute' and the Clarification of Some Points in the Work of Domenico Tiepolo." Art Quarterly 21 (Summer 1958), pp. 180, 185–86 n. 8, states that it forms a pair with "The Burchiello".
Rodolfo Pallucchini. La pittura veneziana del Settecento. Venice, 1960, pp. 260–61, fig. 689, as by Domenico; dates it and the "Burchiello" before the carnival scenes of 1765 in the Blake collection, Kansas City.
Mercedes Precerutti-Garberi. "Asterischi sull'attività di Domenico Tiepolo a Würzburg." Commentari 11 (1960), p. 278, includes it among works by Domenico that had formerly been incorrectly attributed to his father.
Decio Gioseffi. Canaletto and His Contemporaries. New York, 1960, p. 43, colorpl. 22 (detail), as by Domenico.
Stuart Preston. "Art: Gallic Flavor at the Metropolitan." New York Times (July 6, 1960), p. 29.
Antonio Morassi. A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings of G. B. Tiepolo. London, 1962, p. 37, as "clearly an enchanting masterpiece by Domenico".
Egidio Martini. La pittura veneziana del Settecento. Venice, 1964, p. 299 n. 299, as securely attributed to Domenico.
Mercedes Precerutti-Garberi. "Segnalazioni tiepolesche." Commentari 15 (July–December 1964), p. 253.
Mercedes Precerutti-Garberi. "Segnalazioni tiepolesche." Commentari 15 (1964), p. 253.
John Masters. Casanova. New York, 1969, ill. p. 61 (cropped), as "Young women by a gondola".
Claus Virch. "Dreams of Heaven and Earth: Giambattista and Domenico Tiepolo in the Wrightsman Collection." Apollo 90 (September 1969), p. 179, colorpl. II, believes Domenico painted it in Spain, seeing a nostalgia for home in the subject and noting that it comes from a Spanish collection; interprets the scene as a masked lady and her companion leaving their villa on the Brenta.
Adriano Mariuz. Giandomenico Tiepolo. Venice, , pp. 70–71, 130, pls. 189 and 191 (overall and detail), colorpl. XII (detail), calls it a probable pendant to "The Burchiello" and dates it to the beginning of Domenico's time in Spain.
Everett Fahy inThe Wrightsman Collection. Vol. 5, Paintings, Drawings. [New York], 1973, pp. 269–78, no. 28, ill. p. 271 (color), figs. 1–4, 6 (details), discusses the dating, agreeing that it was probably painted in the 1760s in Madrid; notes that the inclusion in the "Burchiello" of a gondola identical to the one in the MMA painting increases the probability that the two works were conceived as pendants.
R. A. Cecil. "The Wrightsman Collection." Burlington Magazine 118 (July 1976), p. 518.
George Knox. Giambattista and Domenico Tiepolo: A Study and Catalogue Raisonné of the Chalk Drawings. Oxford, 1980, vol. 1, pp. 310, 324, no. P.179, includes it in a checklist of paintings by Domenico.
Filippo Pedrocco. Disegni di Giandomenico Tiepolo. Milan, 1990, p. 15, fig. 9.
Filippo Pedrocco inEl Settecento Veneciano: Aspectos de la Pintura Veneciana del Siglo XVIII. Exh. cat., Palacio de la Lonja and Palacio de Sastago. Zaragoza, 1990, p. 226.
John Russell. "An Assortment of Very-Welcome Summer Guests." New York Times (August 6, 1993), p. C24.
Adriano Mariuz inThe Glory of Venice: Art in the Eighteenth Century. Ed. Jane Martineau and Andrew Robison. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts, London. New Haven, 1994, p. 508, under no. 236.
Adriano Mariuz and Marina Magrini inSplendori del Settecento veneziano. Ed. Giovanna Nepi Sciré and Giandomenico Romanelli. Exh. cat., Ca' Rezzonico, Venice. Milan, 1995, p. 386, under no. 100.
Adriano Mariuz inDomenico Tiepolo: Master Draftsman. Ed. Adelheid M. Gealt and George Knox. Exh. cat., Indiana University Art Museum. Bloomington, 1996, p. 24, ill. [Italian ed., "Giandomenico Tiepolo, maestria e gioco: disegni dal mondo," Milan].
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. 32–33, figs. 45–47 (color, overall and details), ill. p. 3 (color, detail).
James Christen Steward inThe Mask of Venice: Masking, Theater, & Identity in the Art of Tiepolo & His Time. Ed. James Christen Steward. Exh. cat., Berkeley Art Museum, University of California. Berkeley, 1996, p. 20, fig. 4.
Everett Fahy inThe Wrightsman Pictures. Ed. Everett Fahy. New York, 2005, pp. 107–9, no. 31, ill. (color) and fig. 1 (color detail).
Alte Meister, Bilder des 19. Jh., Klassische Moderne. im Kinsky, Vienna. October 14, 2008, unpaginated, under no. 30, refers to it in the entry for a copy attributed to Lorenzo Tiepolo.
Andrés Úbeda de los Cobos. The Artist at Court: Giandomenico Tiepolo and His Fantasy Portraits. Exh. cat., Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao. n.p., 2014, p. 53.
The Private Collection of Jayne Wrightsman. Christie's, New York. October 14, 2020, p. 29.
Giulia Bonazza inLa voce delle ombre: Presenze africane nell'arte dell'Italia settentrionale (XVI–XIX secolo)
. Exh. cat., Museo delle Culture. Milan, 2022, p. 33, fig. 3 (color).
Copies: 1) Gustav M. Schneider, Frankfurt (in 1925). Oil on canvas, 16 5⁄8 × 28 in. (42.3 × 71 cm). 2) sold, Sotheby's, London, May 9, 1979, no. 226, as Italian School (19th century), Setting off for the Masked Ball, oil on canvas, 14 × 28 3⁄4 in. (36 × 73 cm). 3) Fiocco (1937) mentions a poor copy by Lorenzo Tiepolo (whereabouts unknown). 4) sold, im Kinsky, Vienna, October 14, 2008, no. 30, as Attributed to Lorenzo Tiepolo, oil on canvas, 37 x 73 cm.
This work may not be lent, by terms of its acquisition by The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
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