Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
Satyrs with Obelisk at Left
From the series, Scherzi di Fantasia
9 in. x 7 in. (22.86 cm x 17.78 cm)
Medium and Support:
Etching on paper
Gift of Jean K. Weil in memory of Adolph "Bucks" Weil, Jr.
© Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts
The obelisk in this print from Tiepolo's "Scherzi di Fantasia" series is an architectural form that the artist used frequently, referencing the connection to the pyramid, which was since ancient times associated with the occult. Tiepolo created vignettes or scenes populated by a range of human types plus several cloven-hoofed satyrs. In eighteenth century Venice, there was a period in which belief in magic, and particularly black magic, was fashionable. In Venice, where the East and West met in a large marketplace of goods and ideas, the influence of astronomy, astrology, archaeology, and alchemy all suffused the waning days of that great port city. The themes of Tiepolo's prints seem based on the popular fascination with magic and the occult.