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A Centaur and a Female Faun in a Landscape
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This image is available for download, without charge, under the Getty's Open Content Program.

Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo
Italian, Venice, about 1775
Pen and brown ink, brown wash over black chalk

7 5/8 x 10 13/16 in.
2002.24

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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.