Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo
Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, Italian, Country Dance, ca. 1797, Pen and ink, wash and brush over chalk on paper; pen and ink, wash and brush, over black chalk; 28.7 x 41.1 cm (11 5/16 x 16 3/16 inches), Bequest of George Pierce Metcalf 57.239
Light, shadow, texture, and patterning enliven this pen-and-wash drawing with buoyant activity. Created by Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo during the last years of his life, the RISD sheet is one of a series of 104 drawings entitled Diversion for the Children. The series presents the life of Punchinello, a clownish character from Italian popular theater. In Venetian culture, the figure of Punchinello denoted role-playing and personified the duality of the noble and wicked aspects of human nature. Here, the artist depicted two Punchinellos in conical hats at a country dance. The dainty feet of the dancers float across the foreground while one Punchinello is carried away in the festive fervor and the other watches sheepishly from the periphery.