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Centaur with cherubs
Tiepolo, Giovanni Domenico
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Tiepolo, Giovanni Domenico

Venice (Italy), 1727 - Venice (Italy), 1804

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Centaur with cherubs

1759 - 1791. Grey wash, Pencil, Pencil strokes on white paper.
Not on display

This drawing is one of a series by Giandomenico Tiepolo dedicated to centaurs, fauns and other mythological creatures. The series is one of the most original creations by Giandomenico, son of Giambattista and brother of Lorenzo, both of whom also have works in Italian Masterpieces from Spain’s Royal Court, Museo del Prado. Numerous drawings from this series have survived in museums and collections around the world, including nine at the British Museum, London; six at the University of Princeton Art Museum, United States; and eleven at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, to mention but a few. One of the works in the latter institution bears the number 197, from which we can deduce the vastness of Giandomenico’s series.

These drawings have similar characteristics: they are scenes of centaurs and satyrs outdoors, their dimensions are approximately 19.0 x 27.5 cm and their technical execution is almost always the same - grey or brown wash, pen and brown ink. In many cases, including the present work, there is some preliminary pencil drawing as well. Almost all have a number drawn in ink on the upper left part of the page, as well as the artist’s signature. Here, however, the complete number is missing -as the paper has been cut- and only a 4 remains.

Centaur with cherubs, 1759-91, may have come from the sale of Baron Louis-Auguste de Schwiter’s estate in Paris in 1883, when various drawings from that series were sold, including some of those now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This hypothesis is strengthened by the fact that the back of the drawing bears a glued label from what appears to be an auction catalogue; it is well known that Fernández Durán acquired many of his works at Parisian sales in the late nineteenth century.

It is difficult to precisely identify the subject of this drawing because, like many from this series, it is drawn with great freedom. The youth armed with bow and arrows at the right of the centaur indicates that the latter might be Nessus, which would make this a representation of the kidnapping of Deianira. The arrow sticking out of the centaur’s hindquarters would thus be the poisonous one shot by Hercules. Many other drawings from this series, including those at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, depict the kidnapping of nymphs and female satyrs (Carlos Varona, M. C. de, en: Italian Masterpieces. From Spain´s Royal Court, Museo del Prado, 2014, p. 234).


Technical data

Inventory number
Tiepolo, Giovanni Domenico
Centaur with cherubs
1759 - 1791
Grey wash; Pencil; Pencil strokes
White paper
Height: 194 mm; Width: 268 mm
Bequest of Pedro Fernández Durán y Bernaldo de Quirós, 1931

Bibliography +

Bean, J., 18th Century Italian Drawings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Nueva York, 1990, pp. 253-60.

Mena Marqués, Manuela, Catálogo de Dibujos. VII. Dibujos Italianos del Siglo XVIII y del Siglo XIX, Madrid, 1990, pp. 142, nº 272.

de Carlos Varona, Mª Cruz, Giandomenico Tiepolo 'Centaur with cherubs' En:, Italian masterpieces from Spain's royal court, Museo del Prado, National Gallery of Victoria Thames & Hudson, 2014, pp. 234.

Bernardí Roig. Cuidado con la cabeza., Comunidad de Madrid, Madrid, 2016, pp. 138.

Filigree +

Motive: Filigrana

Other inventories +

Inv. Legado Pedro Fernández Durán, 1931. Núm. 577.

Inscriptions +

Inscribed in pen and ink. Front, lower left corner

Domco Tiepolo f.
Front, lower left corner

Exhibitions +

Cuidado con la cabeza
27.04.2016 - 31.07.2016

Italian Masterpieces from Spain's Royal Court. Museo Nacional del Prado
16.05.2014 - 31.08.2014

Update date: 04-11-2021 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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