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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

The Triumph of Valor over Time

Photo: Paul Macapia

The Triumph of Valor over Time

ca. 1757

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

Italian, 1696 - 1770

Enduring famethe goal of so many figures in historywas the promise of art. This fluid oil sketch was created by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo to show his patron, Orazio Porto, what to expect prior to the artist commencing work on a fresco for the ceiling of Porto's family palace in Vicenza, Italy. Tiepolo's design for the ceiling (61.170) and for this sketch is an allegory in which Victory crowns the golden-robed figure of Valor with a laurel wreath, as Time watches helplessly from the shadows below, his scythe overturned.
Oil on canvas
23 1/2 x 17 in. (59.7 x 43.2 cm)
Samuel H. Kress Collection
Provenance: Friedrich August von Kaulbach (1850-1920), Munich [1]; A.S. Drey’s, Munich [2]; Paul Drey’s, New York [3]; Samuel H. Kress collection, New York, acquired 1948 [4]; Seattle Art Museum, since 1952, accessioned 1961 [5] [1] Not included in the Kaulbach estate sale held October 29-30, 1929, by Helbing, Munich [2] Exhibited, "Meisterwerke Alterer Kunst aus dem Deutschen Kunsthandel," Kunstverein, Cologne, May 10 – June 8, 1930, no. 78 of catalogue, as "Markus und Chronos," ceiling sketch by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. This painting was not included in the liquidation sale of A.S. Drey held at Paul Graupe, Berlin, June 17, 1936, although a different Tiepolo sketch from the Kaulbach collection was included in the sale, no. 57. [3] Exhibited, "Four Centuries of Venetian Painting," Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, OH, March 1940, no. 51 of catalogue by H. Tietze, as Giovanni Battista Tiepolo; Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA, February 6-25, 1947, no. 32, as "Glorification of Orazio Porto," by G.B. Tiepolo) [4] Exhibited, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., 1951 [5] Exhibited, "Celebrazioni Tiepoleschi," Villa Manin di Passariano, Udine, June 27 – October 31, 1971, no. 76 of catalogue of the paintings, by A. Rizzi, as modello for 61.170
Photo: Paul Macapia
Now on view at the Seattle Art Museum

The Oil Sketch

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when artists worked on commission for individual patrons, it was common for them to develop a small-scale version of a composition to show to the patron for approval. By painting the model in oils, the artist could show both the composition and the coloring to provide as thorough a picture as possible. The sketches became collectibles in their own right because they were often freer and livelier than the finished work, which was generally of a much larger scale and was often created with the aid of studio assistants.
Detail, 61.169
Photo: Paul Macapia

Another Ceiling Sketch in SAM's Collection

In 1620, Peter Paul Rubens was commissioned to decorate the ceiling of a new Jesuit church being constructed in Antwerp. Painted oil sketches such as this one served as models for the artists in his workshop, including Anthony van Dyck, who painted the large-scale ceiling paintings from Rubens' designs. The sketches themselves were so prized that Rubens chose to keep them himself and paint an altarpiece for the church rather than turn them over as part of the commission. The only part of the ceiling project entirely by the master's own hand, the surviving sketches now also constitute the major evidence for the cycle, which was destroyed when the church suffered a devastating fire in 1718.
The Last Supper, 1620-21, Peter Paul Rubens, 61.166


Exhibition HistoryCologne, Germany, Meisterwerke alterer Kunst aus dem deutschen Kunsthandel, Kunstverein, May 10-June 8, 1930. Cat. no. 78 (as Markus und Chronos, ceiling sketch by Tiepolo).

Toledo, Ohio, Toledo Museum of Art, Four Centuries of Venetian Painting, Mar. 1940. Text by Hans Tietze. Cat. no. 51.

Northampton, Mass., Smith College Museum of Art, Feb. 6-25, 1947. Cat. no. 32 (as Glorification of Orazio da Porto).

Washington, D.C., National Gallery, Paintings and Sculpture from the Kress Collection, 1951. Text by William Suida. Cat. no. 66, pp. 150, 152 [?].

Seattle, Wash., Seattle Art Museum, Italian Art: Samuel H. Kress Collection, 1952. Text by Suida, William and Sherman Lee. Cat. no. 23, pp. 8-9, 21-22.

Udine, Italy, Villa Manin di Passariano, Mostra del Tiepolo Dipinti, June 27-Oct. 31, 1971. Text by Aldo Rizzi. Cat. no. 76.

Seattle, Wash., Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, XVIII Century Venice -- Drawings from Academic Collections -- Paintings from the Seattle Art Museum, 1974. Cat. P. 4 reproduced fig. 4, p. 22.

Springield, Mass., Springfield Museum of Fine Art, Tiepolos in America, 1978.

Birmingham, Ala., Birmingham Museum of Art, The Tiepolos: Painters to Princes and Prelates, 1978 Jan. 8- Feb. 19, 1978. (Springfield, Mass. March 19- May 7, 1978.) Text by Patricia Farmer. Cat. no. 17, p. 77.

Fort Worth, Tex., Kimbell Art Museum, Giambattista Tiepolo, Master of the Oil Sketch, 1993. Text by Beverly Louise Brown. Cat. no. 44.

Published References"Recent Important Acquisitions of American Collections." The Art Quarterly 18, no. 1 (Spring 1955): p. 97, reproduced p. 96.

"Accessions of American and Canadian Museums, October - December 1961,” The Art Quarterly 25, no. 1 (Spring 1962): p. 84, reproduced p. 87 ill. 77.

Morassi, A. A Complete Catalogue of Paintings of G.B. Tiepolo. London, England: Phaidon Press, 1962; pp. 32, 40, 48. Fig. 330.

S.A.M. Engagement Book, 1967, reproduced across from Jan. 8-14.

Garberi, Mercedes Precerutti. Frescoes From Venetian Villas. London, England: Phaidon, 1971; pp. 127, 228.

Shapley, Fern Rusk. Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: Italian Schools XVI-XVIII Centuries.
London, England: Phaidon, 1973; p. 150, fig. 285, no. K1588.

Knox, George. “Tiepolo Paintings at Birmingham Ala.” Burlington Magazine 120, no. 900 (March 1978): p. 189.

Knox, George. Giambattista and Domenico Tiepolo: A Study and “Catalogue Raissoné” of the Chalk Drawings. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1980; p. 323, pl. 316.

Pedrococco, Filippo. Tiepolo The Complete Paintings. New York: Rizzoli, 2002; p. 303, fig. 269a.

Seattle Art Museum: Bridging Cultures. London, England: Scala Publishers Ltd. for the Seattle Art Museum, 2007; pp. 60-61, reproduced p. 61.

Ishikawa, Chiyo. The Samuel H. Kress Collection at the Seattle Art Museum. Seattle, Wash.: Seattle Art Museum, 1997, pp. 59-62, fig. 37

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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