Toward the end of his life, Venetian painter Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo (1727-1804) produced a remarkable set of drawings about the commedia dell’arte character Punchinello. This familiar comic figure was grotesque, dishonest and lecherous, but Domenico transformed him into something sympathetic and universal. The cycle of 104 pen-and-brown-ink drawings (77 are shown here in color, 27 in black-and-white) displays a world of Punchinellos: learning to walk, marrying, cooking polenta, at the circus, imprisoned, dying and being buried. Executed in a casual style, the drawings are deeply felt and vividly rendered. The series was sold and dispersed in 1921, and this is the first time it has been assembled since. Gealt, a curator at Indiana University Art Museum, provides a useful introduction and annotations discussing the cycle’s meanings and possible intended arrangement (the order cannot be determined with certainty). A beautiful, unusual series, admirably assembled. Publishers Weekly review of Domenico Tiepolo: The Punchinello Drawings Hardcover by Adelheid M. Gealt
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