August 27, 2013
A POWERFUL 18th CENTURY OLD MASTER PORTRAIT
Anton Raphael Mengs (Aussig 1728-1779 Rome): PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST’S FATHER ISHMAEL ISRAEL MENGS
“One of the precursors to Neoclassical painting”
Anton Raphael Mengs (Aussig 1728-1779 Rome) PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST’S FATHER ISHMAEL ISRAEL MENGS (1668-1765), oil on paper laid on artist’s board, 49 x 37 cm.; 63 x 51 cm. in frame. “N 10” (Gallery Mark) and various sketches to verso of board. Provenance: Private collection in Great Britain ca. 1970, then the Shepherd Gallery in New York. Listed in: Steffi Roettgen, Anton Raphael Mengs: 1728-1779: Das malerische und zeichnerische Werk, vol. I, Munich, 1999, pp. 291-292, No. WK 4. At one time considered autograph, the painting is now listed as an oil version of Meng’s pastel portrait of his father in Dresden. It is also possible that this oil is a Self-Portrait by Ishmael Israel Mengs himself, done with an artist’s convex mirror as the model for several versions by his gifted son and daughter. [SOLD]
“Anton Raphael Mengs (1728-1779) was born in Bohemia now Czech Republic. He accompanied his father, who was a painter, in Rome and Dresden where he became a successful portrait painter. “[V&A] The elder Mengs was one of the very few openly Jewish artists practicing in the courts of Eastern Germany, where both his daughter and son also began to paint. Eventually, Anton Raphael converted to Catholicism in Rome in order to marry an Italian woman and to gain patronage at the Vatican. He finished his career in Madrid, where he also wrote several important treatises on art and aesthetics which were published in German, Italian and English editions. He was a friend of Winkelmann’s, whose portrait he also painted, as well as several English aristocrats resident in Italy.
” Mengs came to share Winckelmann’s enthusiasm for classical antiquity, and worked to establish the dominance of Neoclassical painting. 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.” [Wikipedia]