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Title: "The most beautiful Punchinelli in the world": A Comprehensive Study of the Punchinello Drawings of Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
Authors: Goldman, Victoria Sears
Advisors: Kaufmann, Thomas DaCosta
Contributors: Art and Archaeology Department
Keywords: Carnival
Eighteenth-century Venice
Subjects: Art history
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Over the course of approximately thirty years, from the late 1720s through the early 1760s, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, the preeminent Venetian fresco painter of his day, executed at least thirty-six drawings of Punchinello, a character from the commedia dell'arte. The majority of the drawings are connected to venerdì gnoccolare, the bacchanalian celebration that takes place on the final Friday of Carnevale in Verona. Accordingly, Tiepolo's Punchinelli cook and eat gnocchi, guzzle wine, pass out from intoxication, and suffer the digestive consequences of their excessive consumption. While the execution of many of the drawings is thought to coincide with the periods of time Giambattista spent in Verona, the exact circumstances of their production are unknown. By providing the most comprehensive existing compilation of the drawings, looking at the possible influences on the drawings, and assessing them from multiple thematic perspectives, this dissertation represents the most thorough study of the Punchinello drawings to date. The introduction offers an overview of their subject matter and chronology and provides a review of the extant literature on the drawings. Chapter One discusses the history and symbolism of Punchinello, while Chapter Two surveys artistic representations of the character and details recent theoretical interpretations of Punchinello. Chapter Three looks at the status of and attitudes toward Punchinello in the eighteenth century. Chapters Four and Five examine Giambattista's relationships with the two men who are mentioned most often in connection with the Punchinello drawings, Scipione Maffei and Francesco Algarotti, and consider whether they had any impact on the production of the drawings. Chapters Six and Seven establish venerdì gnoccolare and the carnival theory of Mikhail Bakhtin as points of departure for evaluating the different thematic angles from which the drawings can be viewed, as well as the various artistic traditions in which they might be situated. All of these traditions can be considered part of the carnivalesque tradition, and Chapter Eight illustrates how the Punchinello drawings also fall under the rubric of the carnivalesque. Ultimately, by examining the circumstances of their production, illustrating how many of the concepts inherent in carnival and in venerdì gnoccolare can also be applied to the drawings, and considering how they fit into a number of carnivalesque artistic traditions, this dissertation aims to provide a comprehensive and revealing study of the Punchinello drawings and to determine what they may have meant for Tiepolo.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Art and Archaeology

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