Anton Raphael Mengs Biography | Oil Paintings
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, Frederick Augustus the Elector of Saxony appointed Mengs as his first painter, but he was still able to spend much of his time in Rome, where he married Margarita Guzzi, who had been one of his models the year before. In order to have a chance at becoming the director of the Vatican School of painting, he converted to Catholicism, and in 1754 he was appointed as the director.
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 within 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 he completed the banquet hall in 1777, Anton Raphael Mengs returned to Rome in poor health and financially strapped, and two years later he died, leaving twenty children, the King of Spain, grateful for the work he had done in Madrid, decided to support seven of his children.
Anton Raphael Mengs rivalry with Italian painter Pompeo Batoni was well-known. He was also a friend of Giacomo Casanova. The womanizer Casanova provides accounts of his Mengs personality and reputation through anecdotes in his book Histoire de Ma Vie (Story of My Life).
Art Movement History: Neoclassical.
Artists Influencing Anton Mengs: Ismael Mengs.
He Traveled To Italy, Spain.
Painters Anton Mengs Influenced: Antonio Maron, Agustín Esteve.
Artist's Biography compiled by Albert L. Mansour at The World's Artist, with text adapted from Wikipedia.