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Death Giving Audience

Although Tiepolo is better known for his large murals and ceiling designs for palaces in Würzburg, Madrid, and Genoa, he was also an acclaimed draftsman and etcher. This small series of ten prints was created in the eighteenth-century tradition of the caprice (or “flight of fancy”). Without any clear narrative or message, the series is a delightful pastiche of decorative elements that encourage viewers to make their own connections. Even in this image of death, there is playfulness, with the figures looking quizzically at the seated skeleton. Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art’s collection includes a complete set of the ten prints with title page loosely bound with a gilded paper cover sheet (Eskenazi Museum of Art 77.12.2A–.2K).

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
Venetian, 1696–1770
Death Giving Audience, Plate 8 from Caprices (Vari Capricci)
ca. 1740 (published 1785)
Etching on paper
Image: 5 5/8 x 7 in. (14.3 x 17.8 cm); sheet: 8 7/16 x 11 ¼ in. (21.4 x 28.6 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 77.12.2F