Spirit and Invention: Drawings by the Tiepolo

October 27, 2023 through January 28, 2024
Drawing of winged drapped figure pointing upwards and another figure bent down to the left.

The Morgan is home to one of the world’s largest and most important collections of drawings by Giambattista Tiepolo (1696–1770) and his eldest son Domenico (1727–1804), with more than 300 representative examples of their lively invention and masterful techniques. Combining highlights from the Morgan’s collection with carefully selected loans, this exhibition will provide a comprehensive look at the the Tiepolos’ work as draftsmen, focusing on the role of drawing in their creative process and the distinct physical and stylistic properties of their graphic work. At the core of the collection and exhibition are substantial groups of Giambattista’s drawings that relate to major ceiling fresco projects of the 1740s and 1750s. A fresh look at the style, function, and material properties of these working drawings has yielded new insights into their purposes. Most significantly, the exhibition presents for the first time extremely rare pen studies for Tiepolo’s magnum opus, the ceiling fresco above the staircase of the Würzburg Residenz of 1752, and a group of bold sketches newly connected with his ceiling fresco of 1754 at the Venetian church of Santa Maria della Pietà. Other sections of the exhibition highlight the introduction of Domenico to the family workshop, the exchanges between father and son, and the great series drawings by both: Giambattista’s fantastic heads and figures seen di sotto in su, and Domenico’s drawings of animals, biblical scenes, and contemporary life. The exhibition will end with a wall including striking examples from Domenico’s late Punchinello series.

Giambattista Tiepolo, The Annunciation, ca. 1755-60. Pen and black ink and wash, over black chalk, 254 x 406 mm. The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, inv. IV, 134.