Anton Raphael Mengs Biography | Oil Painting Reproductions
3-22-1728 Aussig, GER – 6-29-1779 Rome, ITABack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
Anton Raphael Mengs was the son of Ismael Mengs, a Danish painter who eventually established himself at Dresden. In 1741 Mengs's father took him from Dresden to Rome.
In Rome, Anton Raphael Mengs fresco painting of Parnassus at Villa Albani gained him a reputation as a master painter. In 1749 he was appointed the first painter to Frederick Augustus, elector of Saxony, but this did not prevent him from spending much of his time in Rome. There he married Margarita Guzzi, who had sat for him as a model in 1748. He converted to Catholicism, and in 1754 he became director of the Vatican school of painting.
During the eighteenth century, artists expressed the two different emotions that the sight of ancient monuments produced in travelers: regret at seeing such magnificence in ruin or a cultural urge to study them at leisure. The academic painting appreciated by travelers was dominated by a formal and intellectual control that was sober, elegant, yet not too restrained. These concepts were taken up and developed by Anton Raphael Mengs, who trained in Dresden, but was subsequently active in Rome. While Winckelmann handled classical art in a classifying manner, Mengs studied a scheme withing which to fix pictorial references. Thus toward 1770, a very severe norm was adopted in the choice and application of subjects and models: this marked the beginning of the Neoclassical period of oil paintings. This methodical and impassioned revival of ancient art was seen as the antidote to the excesses of Rococo.
In 1749 Anton Raphael Mengs accepted a commission from the Duke of Northumberland to make a copy, in oil on canvas, of Raphael's fresco The School of Athens for his London home. Executed in 1752–5, Mengs' painting is full-sized, but adapts the composition to a rectangular format, with some additional figures. It is now in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
On two occasions he accepted invitations from Charles III of Spain to go to Madrid. There he produced some of his best work, most notably the ceiling of the banqueting hall of the Royal Palace of Madrid, the subject of which was the Triumph of Trajan and the Temple of Glory. After the completion of this work in 1777, Anton Raphael Mengs returned to Rome, where he died two years later, in poor circumstances, leaving twenty children, seven of whom were pensioned by the king of Spain.
Anton Raphael Mengs had a well-known rivalry with the contemporary Italian painter Pompeo Batoni. He was also a friend of Giacomo Casanova. Casanova provides accounts of his personality and contemporary reputation through anecdotes in his Histoire de Ma Vie.
Art Movement History: Neoclassical
Artists Influencing Anton Mengs: Ismael Mengs
He Traveled To Italy, Spain
Painters Anton Mengs Influenced: Antonio Maron, Agustín Esteve