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 Pietro Benvenuti



Pietro Benvenuti        Pages: 1

(b Arezzo, 8 Jan 1769; d Florence, 3 Feb 1844).

Italian painter. In 1781 he began his studies at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence, where he was taught by such Neo-classical painters as Giuseppe Piattoli (c. 1743–1823) and Sante Pacini ( fl 1762–90). He went to Rome in 1792 to continue his studies and while there painted the Martyrdom of St Donatus (1794; Arezzo Cathedral) for Bishop Marcacci of Arezzo. This work was one of his first commissions and shows the influence of Baroque religious art. By the time Marcacci commissioned him to paint Judith with the Head of Holofernes (1803–4; Arezzo Cathedral), his style had developed under the influence of Vincenzo Camuccini and Antonio Canova, artists who dominated the Neo-classical movement in Rome. However, his crisp, linear style of drawing shows a greater affinity to the work of the Danish–German painter Asmus Jakob Carstens than to that of any Italian. Canova was a close friend of Benvenuti’s and visited Arezzo expressly to see Judith installed in the cathedral. An earlier version of it (1798; Naples, Capodimonte), which was deemed unsuitable, was sold to Frederick Augustus Hervey, 4th Earl of Bristol, one of Camuccini’s patrons. Benvenuti’s career flourished during the years of French rule in Italy (1796–1814). In 1803 Elisa Baciocchi (née Bonaparte), Grand Duchess of Tuscany and sister of Napoleon, appointed him court painter and Director of the Accademia in Florence; in the same year he was also elected a member of the Accademia di S Luca in Rome. In 1804 he assumed his post in Florence, although his departure from Rome was seen by Canova as a great loss. In Florence he emphasized the formal qualities of Neo-classical art rather than its deeper emotional or moral significance. His precise technique was well suited to the requirements of regal portraiture, as in Elisa Baciocchi and her Court (1812–13; Versailles, Château), which includes Canova standing beside his portrait bust of the Grand Duchess. The painting, with its elegant composition and restrained colour, is influenced by the work of such French Neo-classical painters resident in Florence as François-Xavier Fabre.



Portrait of the Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria


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