This post contains a drawing in Prismacolor® pencils that was copied from a work in chalk by the Italian artist Giovanni Battista Piazzetta. That is some name, isn’t it? I counted twelve syllables. There seem to be a lot of Italian names that are of similar complexity. I feel bad for all the Italian school teachers that had to do a roll call every day. I hope they got paid overtime. I just realized how corny my sense of humor is. I have been in denial for so long. Anyway, I know a lot of you are not familiar with the name Giovanni Battista Piazzetta. I am not either but I will do some research on behalf of both of us.
I have been in denial for so long.
The following information has been taken from the Virtual Uffizi website which refers to itself as the unofficial website of the Uffizi museum in Florence, Italy. Giovanni Battista Piazzetta’s drawings and paintings were noted for their Rocco style, with subtle coloring and rounded forms of religious and genre subjects. His father was a sculptor, and Piazzetta studied woodcarving with him before studying painting with the Venetian Baroque painter, Antonio Molinari. Molinari along with the Bolognese painter, Giuseppe Crespi, and the Emilian artist, Guercino all had a big impact on Piazzetta’s work. Even though Piazzetta did not receive many commissions throughout his career, he also illustrated books with drawings to pay the bills. His illustrated work is reminiscent of Rembrandt’s paintings. In all his works, Piazzetta created complex scenes where the subject was never obvious, and his characters were immersed in more than it seemed. The subjects he created would take on several different meanings. Piazzetta also added melodramatic features and had a reputation for being a darker artist than his Venetian contemporaries. Much of his later years were spent teaching, and although not wealthy, Giovanni Battista Piazzetta was a well-respected artist.
If you would like to see a facsimile of the original which is housed in the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa then by all means click here.
Here we have a Prismacolor® pencil drawing of a young man copied from a drawing of a young man drawn by Jacopo Tintoretto. Prismacolor® makes 150 different colors. I used only black and white. Why am I mentioning this? I really thought if I started writing I would be able to come up with something funny to say. As you can see, that did not happen. I realize the style of the drawing makes the young man look like a bag of walnuts but if you see the original, it kind of looks like that. It is in the collection of the governing body of Christ Church in Oxford, United Kingdom. I could not find an image of the drawing on their site. Since I am not part of the governing body, there isn’t a whole lot I can do. Here is a link to another Tintoretto drawing so you can see his style. I thought I would consult the World History Encyclopedia to find out about this exceptional artist.
These models were then placed inside a box.
The following information on Tintoretto was taken, borrowed, and perhaps stolen from the World History Encyclopedia. Tintoretto’s real name was Jacopo Robusti, and he was born in Venice in 1518. He began his career as an artist creating unassuming works such as decorated furniture and frescoes on exterior walls. It was, however, his large paintings that would make him famous. It has been said that his work combines the drawing style of Michelangelo along with Titian’s use of color. In his drawings and paintings, Tintoretto created muscular figures posed in unusual positions. Mannerism would be the name given to this technique. In the 17th century, the Mannerist style would become a major influence on artists. Tintoretto’s artistic style is also defined by his light source. He would create areas of shadow and color that are distinctive and dramatic. As part of the process of creating his work, the artist would first construct small wax models of human figures. These models were then placed inside a box. It was then possible to organize the models and use an artificial light source to illuminate them. As a result, different and unique effects of light and shadow would be created. Although today Tintoretto is considered a great Italian Master, throughout his career, he was criticized for his rapid pace and lack of finish in his art.
The black and white Prismacolor® pencil drawing above was copied from a work by the Italian artist Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. Now we just refer to him as Tiepolo, since we are not very formal in these casual modern times. Tiepolo’s drawing was done in 1752 with white and red chalk on blue tinted paper. The drawing is in the collection at the Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart, Germany. In German, the medium that he used is called “Rötel; weiße Kreide on Papier” which Google translated to “rubella; white chalk on paper”. You read that correctly. It was drawn with rubella. It was drawn with a contagious viral infection that causes red rash. I know what you are thinking. This can’t be right. So I did some research. Real honest to goodness research and it turns out that “Rötel” is a Japanese manufacturer of high end audio and video equipment. Of course, that can’t be right either. Then I realized I forgot to include a umlaut when I searched. Finally, I entered just the word “Rötel” into google translate with the umlauts and it said it was “red chalk”.
That sounds about right.
Now let’s talk about the Giovanni Battista Tiepolo drawing in question. The standing male half-nude drawing is believed to be a preparatory sketch for the painting entitled “The Death of Hyacinthus” finished in early 1753. The final figure is in more of a reclined position. Tiepolo completed the large painting with the help of his two sons, Lorenzo and Giandomenico. The painting is part of a series illustrating the story from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. It pertains to the love of the immortal god Apollo to the mortal human Hyacinthus. Apparently, Hyacinthus was trying to throw a discus, accidentally hit himself in the head and died. There are different accounts on how he would be able to create such a blunder but the result was the same. He died from throwing a discus at his own head. Apollo then tried unsuccessfully to bring him back to life. It was then that Apollo had the great idea to turn Hyacinthus into a flower. I am just going to assume that the flower is what we now call a Hyacinthus. I would try to verify that but I really want to finish this blog.
My next offering is a drawing done with black and white Prismacolor brand pencils and sticks on gray toned paper. It is a copy of a drawing done in chalk on blue tinted paper by the Venice master, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. That drawing, completed in 1751, is in the Staatsgallerie in Stuttgart, Germany. Tiepolo’s drawing is titled “Nude Study: The Back of a Seated Man with a Crown of Reed”. I originally thought the reed crown was his hair. I was planning to make several jokes about the model having a bad hair day or maybe make a dig at Supercuts. So without that material to work from, I’ll have to get somewhat serious, as serious as I can be, about the great Tiepolo. Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, or Giambattista as he was often called was born on March 5, 1696, in Venice, Italy. Not Venice, California.
“I originally thought the reed crown was his hair.”
Speaking of Venice, California, when I was going to college at San Diego State University, I took a road trip to Venice Beach. I wanted to check out a art gallery that was showing the work of perhaps the greatest living British artist, David Hockney. When I entered the gallery Mr. Hockney was standing there looking sophisticated and worldly wearing a tweed jacket. He looked at me and asked me if I had any questions about his work. It was an incredible opportunity. I could have asked him anything. Unfortunately, I froze and said that I just got there and was going to look around. He turned to a gallery employee and sarcastically joked that he was hoping I would buy his work. He was indeed being sarcastic. I was in my early 20s and was dressed like someone in their early 20s. I had on cut off jeans, and a t-shirt. I didn’t exactly look like someone that could afford to buy his work or proper leisure attire. I know I should have dressed nicer. However, in my defense, it was during the day and I didn’t think he would be there.
Now lets get back to Tiepolo, who is considered the greatest Italian Rococo painter. Unfortunately he passed away on March 27, 1770. So I was never able to meet him. If I was alive back then, I would have asked him… well I can’t think of a good question. I’ll have to get back to you.
The drawing above was done in black and white prismacolor pencils on textured gray paper. The original work was done in white and black chalk on buff paper. According my large book of old master drawings that I’m working from, the work is by Rubens. However, it turns out to be by another artist by the name of Arnout Vinckenborch. The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, which houses the drawing, has re-attributed the work to be by Vinckenborch. Interestingly, the word draftsman is in parenthesis next to his name instead of referring him as an artist. The value and significance of an artwork is diminished when it is attributed to a lesser known artist. This begs the question of what is more important, the work itself or the person who created it. Websites that sell reproductions of the drawing are still attributing the original work to Peter Paul Rubens. Most likely they don’t know that the attribution has changed or perhaps there is something more sinister going on.
“Let’s learn a little about Arnout Vinckenborch.”
Let’s learn a little about Arnout Vinckenborch. It will have to be a little because there is not much information about him. He was born in Alkmaar, around 1590. Alkmaar is small town in Northern Holland known for it’s cheese market. I only mention this because I like cheese. Don’t forget, this is my blog so I can make it about myself at anytime I choose to do so. Getting back to Vinckenborch, he grew up in Amsterdam before moving to Antwerp. Vinckenborch worked in the studio of Rubens. His development as an artist and painting technique was of course greatly influenced by the great master. So a lot of his output is mixed in with Rubens and other fellow artists in work that came out of the studio. He did however produce some works of his own before his untimely death at the age of 30.
Click this link to see and/or buy a copy of the drawing of a man’s back by Vinckenborch.
Click here if you would like to purchase the book: Anatomy Lessons of The Great Masters by Robert Hale.