Sunday, May 6, 2012

Mengs, Anton Raphael

Maria  Josepha of Austria
oil on canvas
128 x 98 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

Maria Josepha of Austria, daughter of Maria Theresa of Austria and Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor. She was engaged to Ferdinand IV of Naples, but she died of smallpox at the age of 16 before the marriage.

Anton Raphael Mengs (1728 - 1779) was a German painter, active in Rome, Madrid and Saxony, who became one of the precursors to Neoclassical painting. He was widely regarded in his day as Europe's greatest living painter. He eschewed the dramatic illusionism and dynamism of the Baroque style in his figural compositions, preferring instead to blend quotations from ancient sculptures with stylistic elements of Raphael, Correggio, and Titian. The results are generally cold, insipid, and contrived, however, and Mengs's reputation has declined precipitously since the 18th century.

He was a friend of Giacomo Casanova. Casanova provides accounts of his personality and contemporary reputation through anecdotes in Histoire de Ma Vie. He died in Rome in June 1779 and was buried in the Roman Church of Santi Michele e Magno.