Tiepolo Giovanni Battista, Hunter on Horseback
FCIP 0051.jpg
works associated
connected artists

1,718 - 1,730; oil on canvas
cm. 262 x 148

Inventory: FCIP 0051
Provenance: Archivio Banca Intesa Sanpaolo, cart. 28, fasc. 620, not found
Exibition: 1996, Milano, s. n. ; 1996, Venezia_New York, s. n. ; 2014-2015, Milano, Gallerie d'Italia, n. 5; 2018-2019, Bergamo, n. 48; 2018, Da Tiepolo a Richter, l'Europa che dialoga , Bruxelles, Cinquantenarie Museum (24 maggio - 30 settembre), senza catalogo; 2020-2021, Milano, n. 32

Critics now agree that, together with Hunter with a Stag, this canvas formed part of a series of episodes in the life of Zenobia that Alvise Zenobio commissioned Giovanni Battista Tiepolo to paint for his mansion in Venice. The work may have been planned in connection with Zenobio’s marriage to the Venetian lady Alba Grimani, which took place in 1718, and it may have taken almost a decade to complete. Having been transferred from Venice to the Villa Grimani at Noventa Padovana, the paintings came onto the market in 1905 and changed hands a number of times during the century, before they were purchased for the Cariplo Collection in 1983.

The series of episodes from the life of Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra, defeated by Aurelian in 272 AD, also included Queen Zenobia Addressing Her Soldiers (Washington, National Gallery) and submission to Aurelian (Madrid, Prado) as well as the Triumph of Aurelian (Turin, Galleria Sabauda). The purpose of the canvases in the Cariplo Collection is uncertain. While some scholars see them as pieces of a fourth canvas of the same size as the other three and depicting Zenobia out hunting, others instead claim that they were the side panels of the scene of the queen addressing her warriors. The latter view appears to be more likely, both because the works are perfectly balanced and complete in structural terms and because there is an old copy of the depiction of the mounted hunter, which would suggest that the original must have been exactly as we see it today from the very beginning. The works would thus be two purely decorative panels designed to occupy spaces of limited width, possibly between windows, in much the same way as entre fenêtre tapestries.

The date of around 1720 suggested by stylistic analysis would support the hypothesis that the cycle was commissioned for the Zenobio-Grimani wedding, an event of great prestige for the client, who thus consolidated his status as a member of the Venetian nobility. Among other things, the Zenobio family – who were of Greek origin, having moved first to the Provincie of Verona before settling in Venice and acquiring noble rank there in 1647 – had already distinguished themselves as patrons of the arts. Suffice it to mention that Luca Carlevarijs was “sponsored” at the beginning of his career by the family and so closely associated with them as to be known as “Luca di Ca’ Zenobio”.

These pieces can thus be regarded as early works by Tiepolo painted around the year 1720. In any event, they were unquestionably painted some time before 1732, when they were described by Vincenzo Da Canal in his biography of Gregorio Lazzarini. It may well have been precisely this artist, who had already worked for the Zenobio family at the beginning of the century, who recommended his promising pupil to them. While Lazzarini’s influence can, in fact, be seen in the richly coloured palette with marked chiaroscuro contrasts, Tiepolo’s personality already emerges in embryonic form in the freedom of composition, the lightness with which the figures are delineated and the focus on movement. This can be seen most clearly in the sudden turn of the rider’s head towards the viewer while the horse is looking in the opposite direction.


The Cariplo Collection also includes another painting by Tiepolo, namely a depiction of the meeting of Eliezer and Rebecca at the well, which is again presumably an early work.

Sources:Archivio Banca Intesa Sanpaolo, cart. 28, fasc. 620, not found


George Knox, Giambattista Tiepolo: Queen Zenobia and Ca’ Zenobio: “una delle prime sue fatture”, in “The Burlington Magazine”, CXXI, 916, July 1979, pp. 409-418;
Diane De Grazia, Giambattista Tiepolo e la regina Zenobia, in “Cà de Sass”, n. 123, Cariplo, Milano, settembre 1993, pp. 2-7;
Massimo Gemin – Filippo Pedrocco, Giambattista Tiepolo. I dipinti. Opera completa, Arsenale, Venezia, 1993, pp. 236-237;
Stefano Zuffi, Cacciatore a cavallo, in Tesori d’arte delle banche lombarde, Associazione Bancaria Italiana, Milano, 1995, n. 357, p. 199, ill.;
Filippo Pedrocco, Giambattista Tiepolo: gli esord, in Giambattista Tiepolo 1696– 1996, catalogo della mostra, Venezia, Museo del Settecento veneziano – Ca’ Rezzonico, 6 settembre – 8 dicembre 1996, , New York, The Metropolitan Museum, 24 gennaio – 27 aprile 1997, Skira, Milano, 1996, pp. 53-54;
Andrea Spiriti, Cacciatore a cavallo, in Maria Luisa Gatti Perer, a cura di, Le collezioni d’arte. Dal Classico al Neoclassico, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde , Milano, 1998, n. 150, pp. 288-291, ill.;
Fernando Mazzocca, a cura di, Da Tiepolo a Carrà. I grandi temi della vita nelle collezioni delle Fondazioni, catalogo della mostra, Milano, Gallerie d'Italia, Silvana Editoriale, Cinisello Balsamo (MI), 2014, n.5, pp. 40-41;
Elena Lissoni e Lucia Molino, a cura di, L’Incanto svelato. L’arte della meraviglia da Tiepolo a Manzù, catalogo della mostra, Bergamo, Palazzo Polli Stoppani, 1 dicembre 2018 - 24 febbraio 2019, Silvana editoriale, Cinisello Balsamo, 2018, n. 48, pp. 68-69;
Fernando Mazzocca e Alessandro Morandotti, a cura di, Tiepolo. Venezia, Milano, l'Europa, catalogo della mostra, Milano, Gallerie d'Italia, 30 ottobre 2020 - 21 marzo 2021, Skira - Gallerie d'Italia, Milano, 2020, n. 32, pp. 198-199;
Marco Bona Castellotti, Breve itinerario tra le opere d'arte della Cariplo, in "La Ca' de Sass", numero speciale, Cariplo, Milano, s.d., pp. 12-14.

Domenico Sedini
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