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Bernardo Zilotti

(1716 Borso del Grappa – 1783 Venice)

Landscape Capriccio with a Gnarled Tree and Resting Owls. Drawing in pen and brown ink on finely structured Venetian laid paper. 29.6 x 20.2 cm. Watermark: Coat-of-arms cartouche.


This wonderful study sheet, penned in a lively and spirited manner, is a typical instance of Zilotti’s skill as a draughtsman. Don Bernardo Zilotti was not only a priest, but also a recognised landscape painter and etcher, whose work was greatly influenced by his contemporaries Francesco Zuccarelli and Marco Ricci. The strikingly graphic nature of his drawing style with its dense network of precise hatchings betrays the influence of Marco Ricci’s landscape etchings. It therefore comes as no surprise that Zilotti’s drawings were often confused with those of his model.

The bare branches and twigs of the gnarled tree are distributed across the sheet in decorative and arabesque fashion. The resting owls keeping a watchful eye on their surroundings give the image a poetry all its own and an aura reminiscent of the capricci of Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. The concentrated, intricate drawing technique with the resulting subtle chiaroscuro effect serves to enhance the visual charm of this delightful sheet. In mint condition.

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