A Young Man Wearing a Studio Cap, Resting His Head on His Left Hand

Nicholas Hall and W. M. Brady & Co.

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Lorenzo Baldissera Tiepolo (1736-1776)
A Young Man Wearing a Studio Cap, Resting His Head on His Left Hand
Circa 1755
Black and red chalk, with some stumping, on white paper; pin holes at the edges
16 1/4 x 11 1/4 inches • 412 x 285 mm
Inscribed in a later hand, lower right, Tiepolo


Comte André Lefèvre d'Ormesson (1921-2014), Paris ;
Thence by descent

Further Information

This unpublished, large, and splendid drawing is a signature example of Lorenzo's rare chalk drawings of heads. The young man shown here, likely a workshop garzone, wears a soft cap worn by painters and their assistants in an eighteenth-century artist's studio. His white shirt is revealed beneath a dark vest or smock. Lorenzo has captured the model unawares while he supports his head in his left hand and gazes into the distance, as though lost in thought or in a momentary dream-like trance.

This unpublished, recently discovered drawings by Lorenzo from a group of about ten drawings of this type which are considered the artist's most original and expressive drawings, demonstrating vividly his technical prowess and inventiveness. Others from the series include three sheets at the Morgan Library; one formerly in the collection of Wolfgang Ratjan and now at the National Gallery of Art, Washington; one at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris; one in the Lepow collection, New York; and another formerly in the collection of the late A. Alfred Taubman. All are life-size in scale, drawn with a powerful mixture of black, red and other colored chalks, enriched with stumping and sharp re-heightening, on white rag paper. Drawn in a painterly style, each head is rendered in a naturalistic manner, with a deep psychological understanding of the sitter that conveys an individual personality. These are portraits not types. The present example, powerful and one of the most poetic of the series, is particularly sensitive in its portrayal of a person distracted from his surroundings and absorbed with his own thoughts.

Lorenzo, the youngest son of Giambattista (1696-1770), was born in Venice in 1736 nine years after his older brother, Giandomenico (1727-1804). At the age of fourteen and a half, he accompanied his father and his brother in December 1750 to Würzburg, where he served for three years as an apprentice in his father's workshop assisting with the frescoes for the ceiling of the salon (Kaisersaal) and the grand entrance staircase (Treppenhaus) decorations at the prince-bishop's new Residenz. In November 1753, Lorenzo returned to Venice for the next ten years where he continued to work in his father's studio. The beautiful drawings of expressive heads such as the present drawing are thought to have been made towards the end of this time. In March of 1762, Lorenzo and his father and brother, Domenico, leave Venice for Madrid where Lorenzo received a series of commissions from the Spanish King Carlos III. By 1763, Lorenzo married Maria Corradi, the only daughter of Don Angelo Corradi, the court bookseller. This alliance gave him entrée into Madrid society, and he quickly produced a series of pastel portraits of the royal family recalling the example of Rosalba Carriera at Dresden. The most stunning invention of his stay in Spain, however, was a pastel series of group portraits of Madrileños, or tipos populares, commissioned by the king for the Royal Palace. These magnificent pastels, "bold scenes of unsurpassed originality in Spanish or Italian art," were begun around 1773. They are, in technique and invention, rivalled only by Liotard's portraits and genre scenes. The fecund productivity of his four years in Madrid was cut short by his untimely death, at the age of forty, on May 2, 1776.

We are very grateful to Dr. John Marciari for his help with this catalogue entry.