Overview

Throughout his career Tiepolo painted small pictures of mythological themes, which proved extremely popular. The subjects of these works came from the best–known episodes from ancient literature, but his conception of the stories was varied and original. His depiction of Apollo and Daphne comes directly from Ovid's Metamorphoses. Daphne, the beautiful nymph and follower of the chaste goddess Diana, was pursued by the sun god Apollo, who had been struck by Cupid's golden arrow of love. Fleeing Apollo, Daphne reached her father, the river god Peneus, seen here at left. To avoid Apollo's unwanted advances, she was turned into a laurel tree. The transformation takes place before us as her leg turns into a trunk and her arms sprout branches.

The Apollo Pursuing Daphne is unique among interpretations of the theme. Apollo's forward thrust seems to propel Daphne backward in a composition of excited movement. Cupid takes cover from the wrath of Apollo that will shortly ensue, and Peneus remains firmly rooted in an effort to stop the ardent pursuer. The off–center composition, typical of Venetian art, was used by Tiepolo elsewhere but never in such a dramatic and emotionally intense manner.

Inscription

lower left: Gio. B. Tiepolo

Marks and Labels

null

Provenance

Friedrich Jakob Gsell, Vienna, after 1849; (his sale, held by Georg Plach at the Künstlerhaus, Vienna, 14 March 1872, no 506b).[1] M. de Villars, Paris; (his sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 1 May 1874, no. 85). Édouard Kann, Paris.[2] Mme D[elaney]; (her sale, Galerie Jean Charpentier, Paris, 9 June 1933, no. 28); purchased by (Fort).[3] Pierre Lauth, Paris.[4] (sale, Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 23 May 1950, no. 28).[5] (Rosenberg and Stiebel, New York); purchased 1950 by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York;[6] gift 1952 to NGA.

Exhibition History

1978
The Tiepolos: Painters to Princes and Prelates, Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama; Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, Massachusetts, 1978, no. 18, color repro. 137.
1994
The Glory of Venice: Art in the Eighteenth Century, Royal Academy of Arts, London; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Museo del Settecento Veneziano - Ca'Rezzonico, Venice, 1994-1995, no. 114 (London and Washington), no. 61 (Venice), repro.

Bibliography

1910
Sack, Eduard. Giambattista und Domenico Tiepolo. Ihr Leben und Ihre Werke. Hamburg, 1910.
1938
Loan Exhibition of Paintings, Drawings, and Prints by the Two Tiepolos, Giambattista and Giandomencio. Exh. cat. Art Institute of Chicago, 1938: 21, under no. 10.
1951
Einstein, Lewis. Looking at Italian Pictures in the National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1951: 104-105, repro.
1951
Paintings and Sculpture from the Kress Collection Acquired by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation 1945-1951. Introduction by John Walker, text by William E. Suida. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1951: 158, no. 69, repro.
1951
Vigni, Giorgio. Tiepolo. Milan, 1951: fig. 76.
1952
Frankfurter, Alfred M. "Interpreting Masterpieces: Twenty-four Paintings from the Kress Collection." Art News Annual 16 (1952): 129, repro. 124.
1952
Morassi, Antonio. "Settecento inedito." Arte Veneta 6 (1952): 91-92, fig. 89.
1955
Morassi, Antonio. G. B. Tiepolo. His Life and Work. London, 1955: 151, color pl. 9.
1957
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Comparisons in Art: A Companion to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. London, 1957 (reprinted 1959): pl. 50.
1958
Mrozinska, Maria. Disegni veneti in Polonia. Exh. cat. Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice, 1958: 46.
1959
Paintings and Sculpture from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1959: 252, repro.
1960
The National Gallery of Art and Its Collections. Foreword by Perry B. Cott and notes by Otto Stelzer. National Gallery of Art, Washington (undated, 1960s): 25.
1960
Knox, George. Catalogue of the Tiepolo Drawings in the Victoria and Albert Museum. London, 1960: 49-50, no. 44.
1961
Olsen, Harald. Italian Paintings and Sculpture in Denmark. Amsterdam, 1961: 92.
1961
Seymour 1961 (Kress), 165, repro. pl. 160.
1962
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds., Treasures from the National Gallery of Art, New York, 1962: 46, color repro.
1962
Morassi, Antonio. A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings of G. B. Tiepolo. London, 1962: 67.
1963
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 318, repro.
1965
Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 127.
1965
Stechow, Wolfgang. Apollo and Daphne. Mit Einem Nachwort und Nachträgen zum Neudruck. 1st ed. Leipzig, 1932. Darmstadt, 1965: 80.
1966
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds. A Pageant of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. 2 vols. New York, 1966: 2:340, color repro.
1966
Sweeny, Barbara. John G. Johnson Collection. Catalogue of Italian Paintings. Philadelphia, 1966: 75, under no. 287.
1967
Cooke, Hereward Lester. Painting Lessons from the Great Masters. Washington and New York, 1967: 234, color repro.
1968
Giraud, Yves F.-A. La Fable de Daphné. Geneva, 1968: 523.
1968
European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1968: 114, repro.
1968
Pallucchini, Anna. L'opera completa di Giambattista Tiepolo. Milan, 1968: 127, no. 253, repro.
1972
Fredericksen and Zeri 1972, 198.
1973
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: Italian Schools, XVI-XVIII Century. London, 1973: 148-149, fig. 286.
1975
European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 338, repro.
1979
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Catalogue of the Italian Paintings. 2 vols. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1979: I:449-450, II:pl. 324.
1979
Watson, Ross. National Gallery of Art. London, 1979: 89, pl. 77, color repro.
1980
Knox, George. Giambattista and Domenico Tiepolo. A Study and Catalogue Raisonné of the Chalk Drawings. 2 vols. Oxford, 1980: 1:225, 253, 271, 335.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 346, no. 475, color repro.
1985
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 389, repro.
1993
Gemin, Massimo, and Filippo Pedrocco. Giambattista Tiepolo. Venice, 1993: 462-463, no. 479, repro.
1993
Longyear, Teresa. "Giambattista Tiepolo: The Energetic and Fluent Brush." In Beverly Louise Brown, Giambattista Tiepolo: Master of the Oil Sketch. Exh. cat. Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth. Milan and New York, 1993: 74, fig.s 47-48.
1994
The Glory of Venice. Exh. cat. Royal Academy of Arts, London; National Gallery of Art, Washington; Museo del Settecento Veneziano - Ca'Rezzonico, Venice; Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice, 1994-1995: 499, cat. 114, color pl. 200.
1995
National Gallery of A rt, Washington, Rev. ed. Washington, D.C.,1995: 111, repro.
1996
De Grazia, Diane, and Eric Garberson, with Edgar Peters Bowron, Peter M. Lukehart, and Mitchell Merling. Italian Paintings of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1996: 293-297, color repro. 295.
1998
Faxon, Alicia Craig. "Metamorphosis." In Encyclopedia of Comparative Iconography: Themes Depicted in Works of Art, edited by Helene E. Roberts. 2 vols. Chicago, 1998: 2:595.
2002
Pedrocco, Filippo. Giambattista Tiepolo. Milan, 2002: no. 247/2, repro.
2004
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 246-247, no. 197, color repro.

Conservation Notes

The support is a plain-weave, slightly coarse fabric of medium weight. The ground is a relatively thick, yellowish beige color, and analysis by polarized light microscopy shows it to be a mixture primarily of earth pigments.[1] No underdrawing is visible with infrared reflectography, but the composition seems to have been laid out with sketchy lines of red paint still visible behind Apollo's head and elsewhere. In broad color areas, such as the flesh and draperies, the paint application is thick, dry, and blended with some texture created by the short brushstrokes. Details and overlying shadows were dragged wet-into-wet over these larger areas as fine lines of color or as partially blended strokes of color in which the texture of the brushstrokes remains visible. X-radiographs show extensive and often confusing artist's changes. Thin dry scumbles or smooth thin layers were applied over these and their texture allowed to show through. The clearest changes are seen in the large, light area behind Daphne's head, which may have been a mass of drapery or a branch; in the position of Daphne's right arm, which may have been higher; the raising of Daphne's left knee and in her left leg, which is now shown as a tree trunk; in the forms of the clouds; and over Apollo's left shin, where a bit of drapery was painted out.

Cusping is present on the top, bottom, and left edges. The paint was severely flattened during a lining. Scattered small losses are concentrated around the edges and in Daphne's back. Discolored varnish was removed and the painting restored by Catherine Metzger in 1992-1993.


[1] Barbara Berrie, Analysis Report of 18 December 1992, NGA curatorial files. Air-path x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy also suggests that ultramarine was used in the sky.

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