JACOPO AMIGONI

(Venice ca. 1685-1752 Madrid)

 

Portrait of a Gentleman

 

pen, black ink, wash, and white heightening on blue paper

 

7 ¼ x 8 ½ inches
(18.4 x 21.6 cm)

Provenance:

With F. R. Meatyard, London, around 1925.
Where acquired by Dan Fellows Platt, Englewood, New Jersey.
Presented by Mrs. Platt to the Princeton University Art Museum in 1944.
with Schaeffer Galleries, New York, 1944.
where acquired by the Suida-Manning Collection, New York.
Private Collection, USA.

 

Literature:      

Janos Scholz, "Italian Drawings in The Art Museum, Princeton University”, in The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 109, No. 770 (May, 1967), pp. 296, 299 (discussion of the Meatyard group of drawings)

Elaine Claye, “A Group of Portrait Drawings by Jacopo Amigoni,” Master Drawings, vol. 12, no. 1 (Spring, 1974), p. 47, no. 25.

Felton Gibbons, Catalogue of Italian Drawings in The Art Museum, Princeton University, Princeton, 1977, p. 5 (discussion of the Daniel Platt collection).

Annalisa Scarpa Sonino, Jacopo Amigoni, Soncino, 1994, pp. 32-33, 94-95 (discussion of the Meatyard group of drawings)

Mimi Cazort, Italian master drawings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 2004, unpaginated, in the entry for no. 37 (discussion of the Meatyard group of drawings)

 


This charming portrait sketch is the work of Jacopo Amigoni, one of the leading proponents of the Venetian Rocco style on the international stage. Amigoni was a peripatetic artist: after completing his training in Venice, he spent the majority of his career abroad, with long stints in southern Germany (1715-1729), England (1729-1739), and, in the final part of his life, in Spain (1747-1752). This sheet dates from Amigoni’s sojourn in England.

Although Amigoni enjoyed great success as a decorative painter throughout his career, changes in taste away from ambitious decorative schemes in England compelled him to take on commissions for portraits. George Vertue records in his biography of Amigoni that the artist had “a reluctance” towards painting portraits.[1] However, he became a fashionable portraitist and received regular commissions from the court of King George II and Queen Caroline and their entourage.

This sheet is one of a group of fourty-four related drawings by Amigoni, the majority of which were sold by British dealer F. R. Meatyard around 1925. Several of these works have been connected to known paintings by Amigoni, and the costumes in each are consistent with English fashion in the 1730’s. The drawings that make up this group have been executed in the same technique, typology, and style. However, their original purpose remains unclear. Some scholars consider them to be preparatory studies or presentation pieces for commissioned portraits.[2] Others have suggested that they probably served as a repertoire of portrait types, showing varying positions and environments, that Amigoni could present to patrons as possibilities when developing their individual portraits.[3]

Regardless of their intended function, as Janos Scholz aptly put it, these Amigoni portrait studies “are fun to look at [and] of very high artistic quality.”[4] The gentleman in this portrait is shown three-quarter length in a relaxed pose, his right arm resting on the corner of a piece of furniture. The drawing has been rapidly executed in a variety of media, and the mix of controlled and nervous handling of the pen, white heightening, and wash make this drawing a delight to behold.

 

[1] Leslie Griffin Hennessey, Jacopo Amigoni (c. 1685-1752): an artistic biography with a catalogue of his Venetian paintings, Phd Dissertation, University of Kansas, 1983, p. 41.

[2] Elaine Claye, “A Group of Portrait Drawings by Jacopo Amigoni,” Master Drawings, vol. 12, no. 1 (Spring, 1974), p. 42.

[3] Annalisa Scarpa Sonino, Jacopo Amigoni, Soncino, 1994, pp. 94-95. She has argued this on the basis that the figures in the drawings are devoid of specific physical characteristics—all of the faces are done similarly.

[4] Janos Scholz, "Italian Drawings in The Art Museum, Princeton University,” The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 109, No. 770 (May, 1967), pp. 296.