Possibly painted for a palace in Venice. Probably Francesco Artaria [1744-1808], Como and Venice; from 1798 Villa Giròla, near Blevio; by descent to Domenico Artaria, inventoried in the Villa Giróla c. 1829; by descent to August Artaria [d. 1893], who upon the sale of the villa in 1870 took it to Vienna, where it remained in the warehouse of the family firm, Artaria & Co., until rediscovered in 1900; sold 1911 via an unknown dealer in Berlin to (Charles Sedelmeyer, Paris); purchased 1927 by (Galerie Van Dieman, Berlin-Amsterdam-New York); sold 1927 or 1928 to a private collector, New York, probably identical with the following. William Robert Timken [1866-1949] and Lillian Guyer Timken [1881-1959], Croton-on-Hudson, New York, and following Mr. Timken's death, New York City; bequest 1960 to NGA.
- Loan for display with permanent collection, Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia, Athens, 1967-1971.
The support is a fairly coarse plain-weave fabric. The ground is yellowish red in color. The paint was applied fairly broadly and thickly with some areas over others, although there is no extensive, considered layering structure. The figural elements were drawn in with loose and expressive brushwork. X-radiographs reveal many parts drawn directly on the canvas with fluid strokes. Other areas - the mountains and sky, for example - were painted with numerous short, brushy strokes that produce areas of texture rather than linear outlines. Some areas show a lack of finish or incorrect drawing, such as the foot of the putto at upper left and the legs of the putto at lower right next to Bacchus. X-radiographs reveal that the original composition included a ledge along the bottom edge of the canvas with griffins gripping balls at either end. A column entwined with acanthus leaves and an entablature closed the right side of the composition, and probably also the left. These elements were painted out before the crouching figure of Rhea at lower left was added, apparently at a later date; there are also remnants of a darker layer over this figure.
Extensive damage, including numerous complex tears and holes, is visible in x-radiographs. The inpainting and areas of overpaint are often crude and have discolored. The varnish is extremely discolored. The painting was relined and the discolored varnish layers thinned during treatment in 1960, probably by Francis Sullivan.
- Modern, Heinrich. Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. Eine Studie. Vienna, 1902: 6-16, pl. 2.
- Modern, Heinrich. "Les peintures de Tiepolo à la Villa Girola." Gazette des Beaux-Arts 3rd. ser., vol. 27 (1902): 477-488, repro. 485; 3rd. ser., vol. 28 (1902): 239-241.
- Sticotti, Piero. "Review of Giulio Caprin, Trieste." Archeografo Triestino, 3rd. ser., vol. 3.1 (1906): 193, as not by Tiepolo.
- Molmenti, Pompeo. G. B. Tiepolo. La sua vita e le sue opere. Milan, 1909: 277-278, repro. 280, as not by Tiepolo.
- Sack, Eduard. Giambattista and Domenico Tiepolo. Ihr Leben und Ihre Werke. Hamburg, 1910: 203, no. 409, fig. 202.
- Molmenti, Pompeo. G. B. Tiepolo. Paris, 1911: 212-214, pl. 225.
- Illustrated Catalogue of the Twelfth Series of 100 Paintings by Old Masters of the Dtuch, Flemish, Italian and English Schools, being a Portion of the Sedelmeyer Gallery. Paris, 1913: 86, no. 56, repro.
- Mauclaire, Camille. Princes de l'esprit. Paris, 1920: 254-256.
- Posse, Hans. "Der Triumph der Amphitrite von Giovanni Battista Tiepolo." Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst 61 (1927-1928): 370-372, repro. 373.
- Venturi, Lionello. Pitture italiane in America. Milan, 1931. Translated as Italian Paintings in America. 3 vols. New York and Milan, 1933: 3:pl. 587.
- Loan Exhibition of Paintings, Drawings, and Prints by the Two Tiepolos, Giambattista and Giandomenico. Exh. cat. Art Institute of Chicago, 1938: 39.
- Morassi, Antonio. Tiepolo. Bergamo, 1943: 22, fig. 53.
- Morassi, Antonio. G. B. Tiepolo. His Life and Work. London, 1955: 145.
- Morassi, Antonio. A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings of G. B. Tiepolo. London, 1962: 30, fig. 260.
- Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 127.
- National Gallery of Art. European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. Washington, 1968: 114, repro.
- Pallucchini, Anna. L'opera completa di Giambattista Tiepolo. Milan, 1968: 106, no. 137, repro.
- Cailleux, Jean. "Tiepolo and Boucher." In Atti del Congresso internazionale di studi sul Tiepolo. Milan, 1970: 88.
- Fredericksen, Burton B., and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972: 198.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 340, repro.
- Shapley, Fern Rusk. Catalogue of the Italian Paintings. 2 vols. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1979: 1:454-456; 2:pl. 326.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 390, repro.
- Pignatti, Terisio. Five Centuries of Italian Painting from the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation. Houston, 1985: 190.
- Bailey, Colin B. "'The Greatest Work of the Painter Shall Be History': History Painting in the Blaffer Collection." In Masterpieces of Baroque Painting from the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation. Exh. cat. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1992: 96.
- Brown, Beverly Louise. Giambattista Tiepolo: Master of the Oil Sketch. Exh. cat. Kimbell Art Museum, Ft. Worth. Milan and New York, 1993: 203-205, under no. 21.
- Gemin, Massimo, and Filippo Pedrocco. Giambattista Tiepolo. Venice, 1993: 101, 338, no. 244, repro.
- 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: 301-308, repro. 303.
- Pedrocco, Filippo. Giambattista Tiepolo. Milan, 2002: no. 146/3, repro.
- Ferrier, Lorraine. "Discovering Tiepolo's 'Bacchus and Ariadne' Anew: Conservation effort reveals hidden elements in Venetian master's painting." The Epoch Times (12 June 2018 (updated 8 October 2018).