8 15/16 x 5 13/16 in. (22.7 x 14.7 cm)
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
(Venice, 1696 - 1770, Madrid)
Medium and Support:
Brown (iron gall) ink and brown wash on whitened, thin laid paper
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. James H. Lockhart, Jr.
Location: Not currently on view
By comically exaggerating or distorting physical features, artists create caricatures for the express purpose of satirizing or ridiculing their subjects. Caricatures can be insulting or complimentary; during the 1700s, the caricature became connected with journalism and was used extensively in the political arena.
Although known primarily for his superb paintings, Tiepolo was also a prolific draftsman who created enough caricatures to fill three albums. In this drawing, the artist represents his subject, surely a well-known Venetian nobleman, with humor although not with kindness. The combination of smooth pen lines with subtle wash shading emphasizes the figure’s pronounced hunchback, long spindly legs, large nose, and excessively high forehead. A very short shadow that defines the ground on which he stands rescues him from floating aimlessly in the blank space of the paper.
[Label text from It Came From the Vault exhibition, 2013]