A Centaur and a Female Faun in a Landscape

Object Details

Title:

A Centaur and a Female Faun in a Landscape

Artist/Maker(s):

Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo (Italian, 1727 - 1804)

Culture:

Italian

Date:

about 1775

Medium:

Pen and brown ink, brown wash, over black chalk

Dimensions:

19.4 x 27.5 cm (7 5/8 x 10 13/16 in.)

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In this barren landscape a centaur and a female faun lie enraptured in each other's arms. Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo borrowed from mythology to invent this erotic image, which is part of a series of drawings he made of centaurs, fauns, and satyrs.

To the Greeks and Romans, these imaginary creatures represented lust. Tiepolo also modeled them after a legend about Hercules, who killed a centaur for attempting to seduce his wife. A quiver of arrows, a bow, and a club-weapons identified with Hercules-lie near the centaur. The centaur's head is thrown back, and he reclines as if dead, but the faun's joyful expression conveys otherwise. Although the original tale is about seduction and attempted rape, Tiepolo suggests here that the lovemaking is consensual.

Tiepolo's loose drawing style seems appropriate for this fantasy world. Fluid ink washes define the landscape and almost envelop the creatures, while sketchy pen lines exaggerate the rocky terrain and the characters' subtle gestures.

Exhibitions
Light and Water: Drawing in Eighteenth-Century Venice (May 17 to August 21, 2005)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), June 1 to August 22, 2004
Gods and Heroes: European Drawings of Classical Mythology (November 19, 2013 to February 9, 2014)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), November 19, 2013 to February 9, 2014