Juno Seated on a Cloud
Anton Raphael Mengs

Anton Raphael Mengs

1728 - 1779

Anton Raphael Mengs was a German painter, active in Dresden, Rome, and Madrid, who while painting in the Rococo period of the mid-18th century became one of the precursors to Neoclassical painting, which replaced Rococo as the dominant painting style in Europe.

His portraits and self-portraits recall an attention to detail and insight often lost in his grander paintings. His closeness to Johann Joachim Winckelmann has enhanced his historical importance. Mengs came to share Winckelmann's enthusiasm for classical antiquity, and worked to establish the dominance of Neoclassical painting over the then popular Rococo style. At the same time, however, the influence of the Roman Baroque remained strong in his work, particularly in his religious paintings. He would have fancied himself the first neoclassicist, while, in fact, he may be the last flicker of Baroque art. Rudolf Wittkower wrote: "In the last analysis, he is as much an end as a beginning". Goethe regretted that "so much learning should have been allied to a total want of initiative and poverty of invention, and embodied with a strained and artificial mannerism."

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. Among his pupils in Italy were Anton von Maron (Antonio Maron; (Vienna, 1731- Naples, 1761). His pupils in Spain included Agustín Esteve, Francisco Bayeu and Mariano Salvador Maella.

Besides numerous paintings in Madrid, the Ascension and St Joseph at Dresden, Perseus and Andromeda at Saint Petersburg, and the ceiling of the Villa Albani are among his chief works. A Noli me tangere was commissioned as an altar-piece by All Souls College, Oxford, and is now held in the National Gallery, London. Another altar-piece was installed in Magdalen College, Oxford.

Text courtesy of Wikipedia, 2023