Jacopo Amigoni, was a prolific 18th century painter of the Rococo period; who began his career in Venice, but found fame throughout Europe.
After completing his training in Venice, he spent the majority of his career abroad, with long sojourns in southern Germany (1715-1729), England (1729-1739) and in the final part of his life, in Spain (1747-1752).
Amigoni, initially painted both mythological and religious scenes; but as his patronage expanded northward, he began producing many “parlour” works; depicting gods in sensuous languor or games and found fame with his sumptuous portraits of aristocracy.
He developed a more or less international style of the Venetian Rococo, with elements compounded from Sebastiano Ricci and French Rococo and later, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.
Jacopo Amigoni. Self Portrait. (1730-35) Oil on canvas.
(b. ca.1682 – d. 21st August, 1752)
Jacopo Amigoni – LIFE
Little is known about Jacopo Amigoni’s early life.
Many reports suggest he was born in Venice, with some uncertainty over the exact date. However, there is a possibility that he was actually born in Naples of Venetian parents. However, in his will he does call himself Venetian. He also appears under the name of Giacomo Amiconi.
Jacopo Amigoni, initially painted both mythological and religious scenes, but as his display of portraits attracted customers from the north; he extended his works into producing many “parlour” works; gods in sensuous dreaminess or in games. For several years, he painted decorative cycles and portraits; although he was said to hardly enjoy them.
STYLE. He developed a more or less international style of the Venetian Rococo, with elements compounded from Sebastiano Ricci and French Rococo and later, Tiepolo.
His style of expression influenced Giuseppe Nogari, another renowned 18th century rococo painter. Among his pupils were the artists Charles Joseph Flipart, Michelangelo Morlaiter, Pietro Antonio Novelli, Joseph Wagner, and Antonio Zucchi.
Left. “Juno Receiving the head of Argos”. (1730-32).
CAREER ABROAD. After completing his training in Venice, he spent the majority of his career abroad.
Between 1717-19, he is documented as working in Bavaria in the Castle of Nymphenburg; in the castle of Schleissheim (1725–1729) and in the Benedictine abbey of Ottobeuren.
He returned to Venice in 1726. His “Arraignment of Paris” hangs in the Villa Pisani at Stra.
From 1730 to 1739, he worked in England. From there, he is reported as having convinced Canaletto to travel to England; by telling him of the ample patronage available.
Amigoni specialised in innovation of large decorative histories and mythological subjects; painted on canvas and mounted as wall paintings (rather than fresco).
These included, Pown House; Moor Park, Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire; Wolterton Hall, Norfolk and the Covent Garden Theatre.
However, changes in taste away from ambitious decorative schemes in England, compelled him to take on an increased number of portrait commissions during this period. He became a fashionable portrait painter, particularly at the royal court, where he received regular commissions from King George II, Queen Caroline and their entourage. Other royal family members, included Frederick, Prince of Wales and Anne, Princess of Orange.
He also turned to engraving and set design. He may have attempted to set up a print shop, with Joseph Wagner; one of his pupils.
Left. Some of Amigoni’s best paintings were executed for clients in England, where he lived between 1729 and 1739. This composition, which celebrates the coming of spring through the union of Zephyr with Flora, is one of a pair dating to this period.
Amigoni’s success in London, incurred much consternation among native English painters. One critic, spokesman for a group of painters, including Sir William Hogarth; wrote a series of essays disparaging Amigoni’s talent.
It seems likely it was less Amigoni’s painterly skill, that attracted scorn from his English contemporaries and more his popularity with the wealthy patrons; denying local artists valuable commissions.
In London, or possibly during a trip to Paris in 1736, he met the celebrated castrato Farinelli; whose portrait he painted first in 1735 and again in 1752. Amigoni, was said to have also encountered the painting of François Lemoyne and François Boucher.
In 1739, he returned to Italy, perhaps to Naples and certainly to Montecassino, in whose Abbey existed two canvases; that were later destroyed during World War II.
He travelled back to Venice, to paint for the Prussian merchant Sigismund Streit ( he had his portrait painted by Amigoni four times); for the Casa Savoia and other buildings of the city.
In 1747, he left Italy for Madrid, encouraged by Farinelli, who held a court appointment there. He became court painter to Ferdinand VI of Spain and director of the Royal Academy of Saint Fernando. He painted a group portrait that included himself, Farinelli, Metastasio, Teresa Castellini and an unidentified young man. The young man may have been the Austrian Archduke Joseph, the Habsburg heir to the throne.
He died in Madrid, in September 1752.
Left. “Caroline Wilhelmina of Brandenburg-Ansbach” (wife of George II). This portrait was commissioned by Queen Caroline in 1735. She presented the picture to her doctor, Richard Mead, in 1736. The Queen has diamonds in her hair and wears a dark blue robe of state lined with ermine. Above her head, two putti hold a crown and a laurel wreath, whilst at her feet two more support a cornucopia, a symbol of plenty, out of which spill the heads of her seven surviving children.
PORTRAIT DRAWINGS FROM SKETCHBOOK – Preparatory studies or presentation pieces for commissioned portraits?
Some scholars consider them to be preparatory studies or presentation pieces for commissioned portraits. Others have suggested that they served as a repertoire of portrait types: a kind of 18th-century “lookbook”. It showed varying positions and environments, that Amigoni could present to patrons as possibilities; when developing their individual portraits.
Several of these sheets have been connected with known paintings by the artist and the costumes in each are consistent with English fashion in the 1730’s. However, their original purpose remains unclear.
Regardless of their intended function, these Amigoni portrait studies are, as Janos Scholz aptly put it, “fun to look at [and] of very high artistic quality.”
Both. Pen, black ink, wash, and white heightening on blue paper
Left. “Portrait of a Gentleman“. (1730’s). The gentleman in our portrait is shown three-quarter length in a relaxed pose, his right arm resting on the corner of a piece of furniture. He sports a formal wig and wears a frock coat, while in the background a swag of drapery hangs before a column. The drawing has been rapidly executed in a variety of media, and the mix of controlled and nervous handling of the pen, white heightening, and wash make this drawing a delight to behold.
Right. “Portrait of a lady” (1730’s).
Engravings were made by a number of persons/artists, after Jacopo Amigoni.
Left. Princess Amelia Sophia Eleanora
After Jacopo Amigoni. Line engraving, (circa 1729-1739)
Please see my introductory post, on the Second Golden Age of Art: together with its most important artists:
Foreign Artists working in Venice
Jacopo Amigoni Jacopo Amigoni Jacopo Amigoni Jacopo Amigoni