Anton Raphael Mengs

Dates1728 - 1779

Like many artists during the 1700s, Anton Raphael Mengs developed his masterful painting skills by studying works from antiquity, the Renaissance, and the Baroque, all of which he encountered while in Italy. Mengs began to study art seriously at the age of twelve, when he accompanied his father on a trip to Rome. He remained there for four years making drawings, and then returned to Dresden where he quickly achieved success as a pastel portrait painter. He masterfully used dry pastel crayons, achieving an unusual degree of color saturation and glossy brilliance that mimicked oil painting. During his second trip to Rome in 1746 Mengs began using oils. By the end of this three-year residence in Italy, Mengs had converted to Catholicism and married a young Roman woman. Aside from time spent working as a court painter in Dresden and in Madrid, Mengs spent the remainder of his life in Italy painting altarpieces, frescoes, and Grand Tour portraits of young English aristocrats, for whom he also acted as an art and antiquities dealer. He was highly thought of in Rome, where he was admitted to the Accademia di San Luca and held a teaching post at the Accademia del Nudo.