«История Антония и Клеопатры» в трактовке Джованни Баттисты Тьеполо: сюжет с пленным царем Артаваздом
Tiepolo’s interpretation of the “Story of Anthony and Cleopatra”: the subject with the captured Armenian king Artavasdes The present paper deals with a rare subject “The Meeting of Anthony and Cleopatra in Alexandria (Anthony Presents Artavasdes II, King of the Armenians, to Cleopatra)”, introduced by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo as a pair to the scene of “The Banquet of Cleopatra” in frescoes of Palazzo Labia in Venice and in his set of paintings, later acquired by Prince N.B. Yusupov (now at the Museum-Estate “Arkhangelskoye”). It is generally believed that the subject had never been depicted before Tiepolo. As the author argues, this rare subject had already been featured in the late 16th-early 17th centuries, in different series of Brussels tapestries with “The Story of Cleopatra” seemingly based on the same cartoon, probably designed by Jacques I Geubels (с. 1565 – до 1604). Another cartoon by Isaac Moillon (1614–1673) was used in French sets of tapestries woven at Aubusson in the middle of the 17th century. The commissioning of the tapestries with “The Story of Anthony and Cleopatra” were usually in concordance with upcoming marriages.
Tiepolo’s treatment of this rare subject has something in common with Brussels tapestries. One may suggest that Tiepolo (or his patron) could have known a similar set of tapestries, and that “Arkhangelskoye” paintings were originally commissioned on the occasion of a marriage feast. Tiepolo’s choice of the rare subject with the captured Armenian king could be related to a settlement in Venice of Armenian Mekhitarist monks. By 1740, they built a monastery on San Lazzaro Island and employed Tiepolo’s close collaborator, Francesco Zugno, for decoration. After Tiepolo, the captivated king, Artavasdes, was featured in the works of Fr. Zugno and a few painters under Tiepolo’s influence, but soon afterwards, the subject was completely forgotten. The subject suits well as a counterpart to the “Banquet” and corresponds to Tiepolo’s allegorical interpretation of “The Story of Anthony and Cleopatra” as a “Triumph of Beauty over Force”.