Caricature of a Man Wearing an Overcoat
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Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
Italian, Venice, 1753 - 1762
Pen and black ink, gray wash
8 1/4 x 5 1/2 in.

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Giovanni Battista Tiepolo captured this man's flamboyant character with few lines. Thin strokes exaggerate his birdlike features, which include a nose that resembles a beak, spindly legs, and duck-toed feet. Fluid washes and pen lines are applied sparingly to his costume and puffy wig. The man seems oblivious to his ridiculous looks, an exaggeration that is typical of caricature--a comical style of portraiture.

Leonardo da Vinci first sketched caricatures in the 1500s, and Italian artists centuries afterward furthered the genre. Working two hundred years after Da Vinci, Tiepolo drew caricatures like this funny-looking man in addition to the serious subjects for which he is known. He made these drawings as independent works of art, sometimes for his own amusement. His drawings cast anonymous people as stereotypes, such as lawyers, dandies, doctors, and hunchbacks.