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Vari Capricci

Giambattista Tiepolo was Venice’s most celebrated painter of the eighteenth century, in demand for decorative schemes and frescoes across Europe (though his work was not collected to any significant degree by Joseph Smith). In the mid-1730s Tiepolo began to experiment with etching, influenced by the works of seventeenth-century artists such as Salvator Rosa (1615–1673) and Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione (1609–1664). The subjects of Tiepolo’s small plates are enigmatic. Several evoke the arcadian or classical worlds, with figures in contemplation, tombstones, fragments of obelisks, and in one print the figure of Death reading from a book. From about 1742, Anton Maria Zanetti included sets of Tiepolo’s prints in his own volume of woodcuts, with the title Vari Capricci by which they are known today.