The National Museum of Western Art

update 03 July 2017

on display Permanent Collection

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo [Venice, 1696 - Madrid, 1770]

The Apotheosis of Admiral Vettor Pisani

Datec. 1743
Materials/Techniquesoil on canvas (oval)
Size (cm)41 x 72
Credit LinePurchased
Standard ref.Morassi p. 40; Pallucchini 143a
CategoryPaintings
Collection NumberP.1988-0001
The Apotheosis of Admiral Vettor Pisani
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This painting is an oil model for the ceiling painting (1743) for the Palazzo Pisani Moretta (now the Palazzo Giusti Giardino), palace of the powerful aristocratic family of Venice, the Pisani. The composition develops from the central group of Venus and a helmeted figure riding in the two wheeled chariot, representing Venus introducing this man to Jupiter and Mars who are seen above and to the right of Venus. A putto flies in from the top holding a crown, and Neptune the sea god and a river god are placed in the lower left and the lower right of the image. The color harmony of the clear sky and gold edged clouds, the light, floating figures with their skillful sense of foreshortening, and the backlit effects on the reclining figures in the lower section all speak of Tiepolo's superb ceiling decorations. The nimble brushwork seen in the eagle wings and clothing of the helmeted figure is typical of Tiepolo's work and is one of the most appealing aspects of Tiepolo's small format works. This work has traditionally been called Mars and Venus, but in recent years M. Levey has proposed a new theory for the subject. The figure seated on the right of Jupiter holding a shield is clearly Mars, and hence the man seated next to Venus cannot be Mars. The whole image can be seen as representing an apotheosis, in which a person who has excelled during life is carried directly to Heaven upon his death. Levey has suggested that this soldier is the hero of the 14th century Venetian navy, Admiral Vettor Pisani. The commissioner of the ceiling painting, the wealthy Pisani widow Chiara Pisani, had a father-in-law named Vettor and two sons who also shared that name. The most appropriate interpretation of this work seems to be that she chose to honor the past hero by this name in the decoration of the family palace. (Source: Masterpieces of the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 2009, cat. no.48)

Provenance

Flameng Coll., Paris; Auc. Flameng, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 26-27 May 1919, no. 37; Private Coll., Paris; Auc., Sotheby's, Monte-Carlo, 26 June 1983, no. 431; Thomas Agnew and Sons Ltd., London; Purchased by the NMWA, 1989.

Exhibition History

1912
Les Peintres Venitiens, Galerie Brunner, Paris, 1912 - 1912
1985
Venetian Eighteenth-century Paintings, Thos. Agnew & Sons Ltd., London, 5 June 1985 - 19 July 1985, cat. no. 25, repr.
1987
The Settecento: Italian Rococo and Early Neo-classical Paintings 1700-1800, Matthiesen Fine Art, London, 1987 - 1987, cat. no. 13, repr.
1997
Resonating Love and Life: European Art from National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, The Niigata Prefectural Museum of Modern Art, Nagaoka, 12 April 1997 - 18 May 1997, cat. no. 7
2007
Gods and Nature: The Essence of European Art from the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, Himeji City Museum of Art, 4 November 2007 - 2 December 2007, cat. no. 5
2007
Gods and Nature: The Essence of European Art from the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, Matsumoto City Museum of Art, 11 December 2007 - 3 February 2008, cat. no. 5

Bibliography

1909
Molmenti, Pompeo. G. B. Tiepolo: La sua vita e le sue opere. Milano, 1909, p. 258, repr., p. 254.
1918
Les Arts. no. 167, p. 16.
1962
Morassi, Antonio. A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings by G. B. Tiepolo : Including Pictures by His Pupils and Followers Wrongly Attributed to Him. London, 1962, p. 40, fig. 258.
1968
Pallucchini, Anna. L'opera completa di Giambattista Tiepolo. Milano, Rizzoli, 1968 (Classici dell'arte, vol. 25), p. 106, no. 143a, repr.
1970
Puppi, Lionello. Una lettera sconosciuta di Giambattista Tiepolo. Atti del congresso internazionale di studi sul Tiepolo. Venezia, 1970, pp. 131-133 (on the dating of the finished fresco ceiling).
1984
Levey, Michael. "Ileana Chiappini di Sorio, Palazzo Pisani Moretta" (book review). Burlington Magazine. vol. 126, no. 977, August 1984 , p. 509 (on the subject matter of the finished fresco ceiling).
1986
Levey, Michael. Giambattista Tiepolo: His Life and Art. New Haven/London. 1986, p. 118.
1989
Masterpieces of the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo. Tokyo, The National Museum of Western Art, 1989 (Japanese, preface in Japanese and English), no. 35, repr.
1990
Catalogue of painting acquisitions: 1979-1989. Tokyo, The National Museum of Western Art, 1990, pp. 71-72, repr.
1992
Annual bulletin of the National Museum of Western Art. Nos. 23-24 (1988-89), 1992, Koshikawa, Michiaki. New Acquisitions 1988-89. pp. 13-17, Catalogue of the New Acquisitions 1988-89. pp. 40-41, repr.
2013
Masterpieces: The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo. Tokyo, The Western Art Foundation, 2013 (Japanese, preface in Japanese and English), no. 60, col. repr.

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