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Record Image
Piazzetta, Giovanni Battista (Italian, b.1682, d.1754)
Study of heads
chalk on paper
378 x 300 mm paper size
15-19XX
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery.
This delicate and gracious drawing by the Venetian artist Piazzetta comes from a famous series of works known as Teste di carattere (Character heads). These presentation drawings, made in black chalk or charcoal with white highlighting on blue/grey paper, represent Piazzetta’s greatest contribution as a draughtsman. They were made throughout his career and highly prized by collectors, both in Italy and elsewhere.
Piazzetta was one of the most distinguished artists working in Venice in the 18th century and although his work shares much of the vite and Rococo sensuality of contemporaries such as Tiepolo, he exercised a more restrained colour palette and imbued his paintings with a sensitivity derived from personal observation and the use of live models.
Piazzetta undertook his early artistic training in Venice, but achieved more significant work in Bologna, where he trained with Crespi and at the academy founded by the Caracci brothers. It was from these artists that he derived an interest in using models from among the peasants and common people. His genre and pastoral scenes from the 1730s and 1740s, depicting contemporary Venetian characters in informal and relaxed moments, are among his most celebrated works.
This drawing, which has all the sensuality and character of its type, probably dates from the 1740s as it resembles a dated drawing (one of only two), in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. The angle and glance of the female’s face is also very similar to that in a painting titled Country Idyll, from 1745.

not on view

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