Transport back in time to Venice around the year 1740 and imagine being in the studio atelier of Giambattista Tiepolo. There you would find a busy atelier with many projects occupying the studio assistants as well as the master. Tiepolo's primary assistants were, of course, his two sons, 25-year-old Domenico and his younger brother, 16-year-old Lorenzo. Adorning the walls and shelves of the barn like studio were many props, fabrics, and curiosities which provided artistic staging for portraits and interior scenes. Among these objects were two terra cotta busts fashioned by Alessandro Vittoria, the illustrious sculptor of the previous century, a contemporary of Tintoretto and Veronese. One of these busts was a portrait of Jacopo Negretti (1550-1598) best known as Jacopo or Giacomo Palma il Giovane or simply Palma Giovane ("Young Palma"), who was an Italian painter from Venice and a notable exponent of the Venetian school. The other bust was a portrait of the bust of Giulio Contarini, ca. 1743. The terracotta bust depicts Vittoria’s close friend and patron, Giulio Contarini (1500-1580), who held the notable position of procurator at St. Mark’s Basilica for more than 40 years. Portraying a remarkable resemblance to Contarini – from the fine detail of his hair and beard to the soft lines on his face and delicate folds of his clothing – the terracotta bust served as an accurate model for a separate marble version that sits on Contarini’s funerary monument in the church of Santa Maria del Giglio in Venice. The sculpture busts served as models for the Tiepolo atelier as Giambatista and both of his son's left many studies of these heads.
Palma Giovane by Alessandro Vittoria
Guilio Contarini by Alessandro Vittoria
Alessandro Vittoria by Veronese
Alessandro Vittoria by Moroni
Palma Giovane by Caracci
Guilio Contarini by Tintoretto