Punchinello is Helped to a Chair

Object Details


Punchinello is Helped to a Chair


Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo (Italian, 1727 - 1804)




Italy (Place created)


about 1791


Pen and brown ink, brush with brown wash, and black chalk


35.4 x 47 cm (13 15/16 x 18 1/2 in.)

See more

See less

In his distinctive black mask, Punchinello totters shakily toward a chair with the help of an attendant and a long cane. A comic character in Italian theater, his humpback, hooked nose, and stupidity made him the focus of much humor in the commedia dell'arte and other popular entertainments. Other characters, also wearing masks, stand around watching the scene, preparing a chair for the weary Punchinello and fetching an umbrella.

Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo produced this drawing as part of a series of 103 works dealing with specific episodes in the life of Punchinello, entitled Divertimento per li ragazzi (Diversions for Children). The scenes, whose themes range from amusement to tragedy, illuminate the complex character of the hunchbacked fool. As a testament to Tiepolo's fondness for this subject, he decorated his family home, Villa Ziani, with images from the series.

Tiepolo sketched the drawing first in black chalk, which was easy to change, before drawing in the figures with pen, ink, and brown wash. The numerous black chalk lines that still remain suggest that the artist made several changes to the design before he settled on this scene.

Drawings from the J. Paul Getty Museum (May 24 to August 8, 1993)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, (New York), May 24 to August 8, 1993, (Cat. 110)
Drawings from the J. Paul Getty Museum (October 29, 1993 to January 23, 1994)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), October 29, 1993 to January 23, 1994, (Cat. 49)
Drapery and Costume in European Drawings of the 15th through the 18th Century (March 28 to June 11, 1995)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), March 28 to June 11, 1995, (Cat.)
Drawing Italy in the Age of the Grand Tour (February 5 to May 12, 2002)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), February 5 to May 12, 2002, (Cat.)
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, (Cat.)
A Light Touch: Exploring Humor in Drawing (September 23 to December 7, 2008)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), September 23 to December 7, 2008, (Cat.)