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The Meeting of Eliezer and Rebecca at the Well

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo1724/1728

Fondazione Cariplo

Fondazione Cariplo

The iconography of the painting, 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artist’s already strong personality was still being formed and the influence of Piazzetta and Ricci had not yet been superseded by allegiance to Veronese.

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Details

  • Title: The Meeting of Eliezer and Rebecca at the Well
  • Creator: Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
  • Date: 1724/1728
  • Physical Dimensions: w129 x h85 cm (Without frame)
  • Exhibition: Palazzo Melzi d'Eril, via Manin, 23, Milano
  • Provenance: Cariplo Foundation, 1983, Paris, Nissim de Camondo Collection
  • Type: Painting, oil on canvas
  • Rights: http://www.artgate-cariplo.it/en/disclaimer.html
  • External Link: www.artgate-cariplo.it

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