Victoria's Blog

Musings from an art historian and provenance researcher

Provenance research case study: The importance of writing legibly

  Currently in a British private collection, this drawing is one of Giambattista Tiepolo’s many Punchinello drawings illustrating a venerdì gnoccolare scene.    It depicts a Punchinello sitting on a rock, slumped over with his elbows resting on his thighs.  His two Punchinello friends w...

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Venerdì Gnoccolare: Gnocchi, Carnevale, and Punchinello

The majority of Giambattista Tiepolo’s Punchinello drawings, on which I wrote my dissertation, depict Punchinelli celebrating venerdì gnoccolare, the carnival bacchanalia that takes place in Verona on the Friday before Ash Wednesday (see image).  The festivities and rituals of venerdì gnoccolar...

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Omen and oracle: Dutch images of beached whales

“A large whale, thrown up out of the blue sea (gods, let it not be a bad omen!), washed up on the beach near Katwijk.  What a terror of the deep Ocean is a whale, when it is driven by the wind and its own power on to the shore of the land and lies […]

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Provenance research case study: identifying an unidentified collector

The following case study describes the process I undertook to identify with certainty the full name—whose surname and only first initial were provided—of a collector listed in a provenance. Two of Giambattista Tiepolo’s Punchinello drawings (one currently in the Morgan Library, pictured here, ...

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A provenance research case study

Sometimes when doing provenance research you find yourself at a dead end.  All the typical resources have been consulted and all usual avenues of research have been exhausted.  So what do you do in that case?  Let me give you an example of one instance I’ve come across in my research that left ...

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My dissertation: a summary

Over the course of approximately thirty years, from the late 1720s through the early 1760s, Giovanni Battista (Giambattista) Tiepolo, the preeminent Venetian fresco painter of his day and an extremely prolific draftsman, executed at least thirty-six drawings of Punchinello, the long-nosed, tall-hatt...

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What is provenance? A (very) brief introduction

So what exactly is “provenance research?”  Most simply, it is research into the ownership history of a work of art (or decorative object, antiquity, book, etc.).  The term “provenance” derives from the French provenire, meaning “to originate.”  A provenance comprises the historical re...

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My discovery of provenance research

In graduate school, my art historical interests shifted once again; this time from England and France to Italy, and from the nineteenth century to the eighteenth.  I decided to write my doctoral dissertation on Giovanni Battista Tiepolo’s Punchinello drawings (more on those in a future post).  A...

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Let’s start at the beginning

How and why did I decide to study art history?  I didn’t have the opportunity to study art history in high school, although my mom was always getting me art books from the library when I was young; my absolute favorite was Marc Brown and Laurene Krasny Brown’s Visiting the Art Museum, with ...

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