Tiepolo Giovanni Battista, The Meeting of Eliezer and Rebecca at the Well
FCIP 0054.jpg
works associated

1,724 - 1,728; oil on canvas
cm. 85 x 129

Inventory: FCIP 0054
Provenance: Paris, Nissim de Camondo Collection; New York, private collection
Exibition: 1993, Venezia, s. n. ; 1996, Milano, s. n.; 1998-1999, Monza, n. 3

This painting was formerly in the Nissim de Camondo Collection in Paris, from which it was sold to a New York collector sometime after 1892. Having found its way back to Italy, it was bought by Cariplo at the Finarte auction of 30 November 1983.

The iconography of the canvas, the size of which would suggest a privately commissioned work or more probably a very advanced study for an altarpiece, faithfully represents an episode from the Book of Genesis in which Eliezir offers Rebecca a precious necklace on behalf of his master Abraham if she will agree to wed his son Isaac. This is a subject that reappears with a certain frequency in Tiepolo’s work and critics are divided as regards the authenticity of the different versions. The canvas in the National Gallery of Athens, which mirrors this one in terms of structure, is in fact attributed to the master’s school.

There is also some difference of opinion as regards the canvas in question here. The hand of the Venetian master is recognised by Morassi and by Pallucchini, who suggests a connection with the depiction of mythological tales (1724–25) formerly in Palazzo Sandi, Venice. More recent confirmation of the reference to Tiepolo comes from Zuffi and Spiriti. While the former agrees with Pallucchini and notes the similarities with the art of Sebastiano Ricci, Spiriti regards it as an “at least partially autograph” work, which would justify some formal weaknesses. It is instead precisely because of the elements of rigidity that Pedrocco, Terraroli and Eugenia Bianchi, while recognising the connection with Tiepolo, identify it as the work of a follower rather than the master himself.

At the same time, stylistic analysis makes it possible to pick out some elements of great elegance, including the figure of Rebecca, the little girl sitting on the steps of the well and Eliezir with the page, which lend weight to the claim that the painting is in fact by Tiepolo. If we accept the hypothesis of an early work produced around 1725, the year in which he painted Alexander the Great and Campaspe in the Studio of Apelles (Montreal, Museum of Fine Arts), where the atmosphere is very similar to that of the depiction of the Meeting with Rebecca, some uncertainties can be explained as stemming from the fact that the artist’s already strong personality was still being formed and the influence of Piazzetta and Ricci had not yet been superseded by allegiance to Veronese. The Cariplo Collection would thus hold three examples of work by the young Giambattista Tiepolo, as the two hunting scenes appear to be generally recognised as authentic.


Antonio Morassi, Nuovi inediti del Tiepolo, in “Emporium. Rivista mensile illustrata d’arte, letteratura, scienza e varietà. Rivista illustrata di arte e cultura”, a. LVI, n. 11, Istituto Italiano di Arti Grafiche, Bergamo, novembre 1950, p. 200, ill. 8, p. 202;
Anna Pallucchini, L’opera completa di Giambattista Tiepolo, Rizzoli, Milano, 1968, n. 37;
William L. Barcham, The Religious Paintings of Giambattista Tiepolo. Piety and Tradition in Eighteenth Century Venice, Clarendon Studies in the History of Art, Oxford, 1989, p. 78, nota 136;
Massimo Gemin – Filippo Pedrocco, Giambattista Tiepolo. I dipinti. Opera completa, Arsenale, Venezia, 1993, p. 290;
Stefano Zuffi, Rebecca al pozzo, in Tesori d’arte delle banche lombarde, Associazione Bancaria Italiana, Milano, 1995, n. 359, p. 201, ill.;
Valerio Terraroli, Incontro di Rebecca ed Eleazaro al pozzo, in Rossana Boscaglia, a cura di, Tiepolo a Milano: l’itinerario lombardo del pittore veneziano, catalogo della mostra, Milano, diverse sedi, 14 settembre – 27 ottobre 1996, Skira, Milano, 1996, pp. 54-55;
Andrea Spiriti, Incontro di Rebecca ed Eleazaro al pozzo, 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. 152, pp. 291-294, ill.;
Eugenia Bianchi, Incontro di Rebecca ed Eleazaro al pozzo, in Carlo Pirovano, a cura di, Luci e colori del vero. Genti e paesi nella pittura veneta e lombarda dalle collezioni Ambroveneto, Banca Intesa e Fondazione Cariplo, catalogo della mostra, Monza, Serrone di Villa Reale, 20 novembre 1998 – 24 gennaio 1999, Electa, Milano, 1998, n. 3, pp. 34-35.

Domenico Sedini
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