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Prince Alberto Giovanelli [1896-1937], Venice, until c. 1930.[1] (Count Alessandro Contini Bonacossi, Rome); purchased 1931 by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York;[2] gift 1939 to NGA.

Exhibition History

A Century of Progress: Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933, no. 148.
Venetian Painting of the XVIIIth Century, M. Knoedler & Co., New York, 1936, no. 17.
Tiepolo and His Contemporaries, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1938, no. 24, repro., as The Game of Pignatta.
Pietro Longhi, Museo Correr, Venice, 1993-1994, no. 45, repro.

Technical Summary

The support is a fine, plain-weave fabric. A buff-colored ground containing lead white appears to have been applied with a brush. The composition was evidently drawn on the ground before painting; a single line, at the base of the wall beside the curtained doorway, is visible under infrared reflectography. A red-brown imprimatura was scumbled over the areas to be covered by the background, leaving reserve areas for the figures. The paint layer was applied quickly overall, blending at the overlapping edges. The paint application was relatively thin with impasto evident only in passages of costume, such as lace. The painting sequence began with the tablecloth and floor, proceeded to the woman in the center and then the surrounding figures, and finally to the wallcovering, which was scumbled over the warm underlayer.

Several changes in the composition are visible through infrared reflectography. The index finger of the central woman's left hand originally pointed to the blindfolded youth at the right, and her female companion also coyly indicated him with her right hand. Several adjustments were made in the angle of the stick carried by the youth. The figure of a woman in the doorway at right was covered by the green curtain. Microscopic examination reveals that this figure, who wears a russet skirt and appears to lift her petticoats and creep up stealthily behind the man, was brought to a high degree of completion before being painted out by the artist. This figure is presently visible to the naked eye beneath the curtain because of an increase in the transparency of paint over time.

The painting was relined by Stephen Pichetto in 1932. The tacking margins have been removed, but strong cusping along all edges indicates that the painting has retained its original dimensions. Discoloration of the surface coatings has obscured the original paint surface. Minor losses occur throughout, the most prominent of which is in the neck of the woman in pale yellow. The canvas was relined, discolored varnish was removed, and the painting was restored by Stephen Pichetto about 1932. The inpainting was adjusted by Mario Modestini in 1955.


Venturi, Lionello. Pitture italiane in America. Milan, 1931. Translated as Italian Paintings in America. 3 vols. New York and Milan, 1933: 3:pl. 587.
Frankfurter, Alfred M. "Eighteenth Century Venice in a New York Collection." The Fine Arts 19 (December 1932): 10, repro. 9.
Tietze, Hans. Meisterwerke europäischer Malerei in Amerika. Vienna, 1935: 118, repro. (English ed., Masterpieces of European Painting in America. New York, 1939: 118, repro.).
Frankfurter, Alfred M. "Tiepolo comes to New York: The XVIII Century Venetians at the Metropolitan." Art News 36 (12 March 1938): 24.
Preliminary Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1941: 110, no. 175, as Blind Man's Buff.
Book of Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1942: 243, repro. 134.
Frankfurter, Alfred M. The Kress Collection in the National Gallery. New York, 1944: 59, repro., as Blind Man's Bluff.
Paintings and Sculpture from the Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1945 (reprinted 1947, 1949): 139, repro.
Longhi, Roberto. Viatico per cinque secoli di pittura veneziana. Florence, 1946: 69, pl. 157.
Einstein, Lewis. Looking at Italian Pictures in the National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1951: 107-109, repro, as Blind Man's Buff.
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds., Great Paintings from the National Gallery of Art. New York, 1952: 72, color repro.
Bacchelli, Riccardo, and Robert Longhi. Teatro e immagini del settecento italiano. Turin, 1953: 118, pl. 11.
Moschini, Vittorio. Pietro Longhi. Milan, 1956: pl. 19.
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Comparisons in Art: A Companion to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. London, 1957 (reprinted 1959): pl. 119, as A Game of Pignatta.
Paintings and Sculpture from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1959: 242, repro.
Pallucchini 1960, 180-181.
Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 76.
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds. A Pageant of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. 2 vols. New York, 1966: 2:332, color repro., as Blindman's Buff.
Gandolfo, Giampaolo et al. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Great Museums of the World. New York, 1968: 55-56, color repro.
National Gallery of Art. European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. Washington, 1968: 67, repro.
Pignatti, Terisio. Pietro Longhi. Venice, 1968: 116, pl. 68.
Pignatti, Terisio. Pietro Longhi: Paintings and Drawings. Translated by Pamela Waley. London, 1969: 20, 104, pl. 68.
Fredericksen, Burton B., and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972: 109.
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: Italian Schools, XVI-XVIII Century. London, 1973: 136, fig. 269.
Pignatti, Terisio. L'opera completa di Pietro Longhi. Milan, 1974: 88, no. 41, color pl. 14.
European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 198, repro.
King, Marian. Adventures in Art: National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1978: 66, pl. 39, as Blindman's Buff.
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Catalogue of the Italian Paintings. 2 vols. Washington, 1979: 1:267-268; 2:pl. 184.
Sohm, Philip L. "Pietro Longhi and Carlo Goldoni: Relations between Painting and Theater." Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 45 (1982): 264-265.
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 350, no. 488, color repro., as Blindman's Buff.
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 232, repro.
Spike, John. Giuseppe Maria Crespi and the Emergence of Genre Painting in Italy. Exh. cat. Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, 1986: 196.
Mariuz, Adriano, Giuseppe Pavanello, and Giandomenico Romanelli. Pietro Longhi. Exh. cat. Museo Correr, Venice, 1993: 16, 17, 20, 90, no. 45, color pl. 91.
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: 171-176, color repro. 173.
Bowron, Edgar Peters. "A Celebration of Eighteenth-Century Venetian Art." In the sale catalogue for Theta Charity Antiques Show of Houston, Venice: The Masque of Italy, Sept. 17-20, 1998: 28-29, repro.

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