Francesco Zuccarelli (15 August 1702 - 30 December 1788) was an Italian painter of the late Baroque period.
(1)Rome and Tuscany (1702-1732)
Born at Pitigliano, in southern Tuscany, Zuccarelli began his apprenticeship in Rome in c. 1713-14 with the portrait painters Giovanni Maria Morandi (1622-1717) and his pupil Pietro Nelli (1672-1740), under whose tutelage he learned the elements of design while absorbing the lessons of Roman classicism. Francesco completed his first commission in Pitigliano in the years 1724-27, a pair of chapel altarpieces. With the sponsorship of the Florentine art connoisseur, Francisco Maria Niccol? Gabburri (1676-1742), in the late 1720s and early 1730s Zuccarelli focused on etching. He eventually produced at least 43 prints, the majority consisting of two series which recorded the deteriorating frescoes of Giovanni da San Giovanni (1592-1636) and Andrea del Sarto (1486-1531). During his Tuscan period, though preoccuppied with figurative subjects, he began to experiment with drawings in landscape, and according to non-contemporary sources his introduction to the latter genre was through the Roman landscape painter and etcher Paolo Anesi (1697-1773).
(2)Venice and Two Stays in England (1732-1771)
In 1732, after a stay of several months in Bologna, Zuccarelli relocated to Venice. While continuing to paint religious and mythological works, he increasingly devoted his output to landscapes, his style at first taking after that of Alessandro Magnasco, and more lastingly, of Marco Ricci. Prior to his arrival in the Republic, the death of Marco Ricci in 1730 had created an opening in the field of landscape painting amid a marketplace crowded with history painters, and Zuccarelli's unique blend of countryside and Arcadia quickly achieved success. Francesco brought a more mellow and airy palette to the typically Venetian colors, and his rural scenes were populated with small figures reminiscent of Claude, whose work he had studied in Rome. He also occasionally created pastiches of various 17th century Dutch masters. Zuccarelli enjoyed early patronage in Venice, from amongst others, Marshal Schulenburg, Consul Smith, and Francesco Algarotti, who recommended him to the Elector of Saxony, Augustus III of Poland. He often collaborated with other artists, including Bernardo Bellotto and Antonio Visentini. In the mid-1740s, under the auspices of Consul Smith, he produced with Visentini a series featuring neo-Palladian architecture, as can be seen in Burlington House (1746). Most charming of the Zuccarelli and Visentini collaborations is a set of 52 playing cards with Old Testament subjects published in Venice in 1748. The hand-colored scenes are treated in a light manner, the suit symbols are ingenious, and the cards begin with the Creation of Adam and end with a battle scene that has an elephant carrying a castle. The outstanding achievement of his Venetian years was a series of seven canvases, traditionally ascribed to the Genesis story of Jacob, and now located at Windsor Castle. The tall paintings are couched in a tender and dream-like poetic vein, and were most likely originally situated at Consul Smith's villa at Mogliano. Towards 1750, when Zuccarelli reached his peak, his paint handling was very responsive to mood, bright with regard to color, thinly laid on and yet vibrantly effective.
Francesco travelled to England to 1752, where his decorative talent resulted in diverse work, including the design of tapestries with the weaver Paul Saunders at Holkham Hall. Around 1760 he turned to Shakespeare, depicting a scene from Macbeth where Macbeth and Banquo encounter the witches, noteworthy as being one of the first paintings to portray theatrical characters in a landscape. Zuccarelli held a sale of his canvases in 1762 at Prestage and Hobbs in London before his departure for Italy. In the same year, King George III acquired twenty-five of his works through the purchase of much of Consul Smith's extensive art collection and library in Venice. In 1763 he became a member of the Venetian Academy, but Zuccarelli was soon induced to journey back to London in 1765 by his friend Algarotti's bequest of a cameo and group of drawings made to Lord Chatham. On this second visit to England, he was lauded by the English nobility and critics alike, and invited to exhibit at leading art societies; moreover, King George III is said to have commissioned the out-sized painting River Landscape with the Finding of Moses (1768). Francesco Zuccarelli was a founding member, in 1768, of the Royal Academy of Arts.
(3)Final Years in Italy (1771-1788)
Upon his return to Italy in 1771, Zuccarelli was soon afterward elected President of the Venetian Academy. The work of his late maturity can broadly be characterized as "neo-Riccian", for in this period the artist's style recalls the precision of his youthful emulation of Marco Ricci. Francesco Zuccarelli eventually settled in Florence, and he died there in 1788.[Edit]