Francesco Zuccarelli

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Francesco Zuccarelli
Portrait of Zuccarelli by Richard Wilson
Born (1702-08-15)15 August 1702
Died 30 December 1788(1788-12-30) (aged 86)
Nationality Italian
Known for Painting
Movement Late Baroque or Rococo

Francesco Zuccarelli RA (Italian pronunciation: [franˈtʃesko dzukkaˈrɛlli], 15 August 1702 – 30 December 1788) was an Italian painter of the late Baroque or Rococo period. He is considered to be the most important landscape painter to have emerged from his adopted city of Venice during the mid-eighteenth century,[1] and his Arcadian views became popular throughout Europe and especially in England where he resided for two extended periods. In 1768, Zuccarelli became a founding member of the Royal Academy of Arts, and upon his final return to Italy, he was elected president of the Venetian Academy.

Rome and Tuscany (1702–32)[edit]

Born at Pitigliano, in southern Tuscany, Zuccarelli began his apprenticeship in Rome c. 1713–14 with the portrait painters Giovanni Maria Morandi (1622–1717) and his pupil Pietro Nelli (1672–1740),[2] under whose tutelage he learned the elements of design while absorbing the lessons of Roman classicism.[3] Francesco completed his first commission in Pitigliano in the years 1725–27, a pair of chapel altarpieces.[4] With the sponsorship of the Florentine art connoisseur, Francisco Maria Niccolò 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).[5] During his Tuscan period, though preoccuppied with figurative subjects, he began to experiment with drawings in landscape,[3] and according to non-contemporary sources his introduction to the latter genre was through the Roman landscape painter and etcher Paolo Anesi (1697–1773).[6]

Venice and two stays in England (1732–71)[edit]

The Rape of Europa. Mid–1740s. Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice.

In 1732, after a stay of several months in Bologna,[7] Zuccarelli relocated to Venice.[8] 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.[9] 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 attained success.[10] Francesco brought a more mellow and airy palette to the typically Venetian colors,[11] and his rural scenes were populated with small figures reminiscent of Claude.[11][12] He also occasionally created pastiches of various 17th-century Dutch masters.[13] 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.[11] He often collaborated with other artists,[14] including Bernardo Bellotto and Antonio Visentini.[11] 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.[15] The outstanding achievement of his first Venetian period was a series of seven canvases, traditionally ascribed to the Genesis story of Jacob, and now located at Windsor Castle.[16] The tall paintings are couched in a tender and dream-like poetic vein,[17] and most likely were originally situated at Consul Smith's villa at Mogliano.[18] 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.[17]

Macbeth and the Witches. c. 1760. Private collection (Spadotto no. 304).[19]

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.[20] Around 1760 he drew from 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.[21] Zuccarelli held a sale of his canvases in 1762 at Prestage and Hobbs in London[22] 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.[23][24] In 1763 he became a member of the Venetian Academy,[25] 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.[26] On this second visit to England, he was lauded by the English nobility and critics alike, and invited to exhibit at leading art societies;[11] moreover, King George III is said to have commissioned the out-sized painting The Finding of Moses (1768).[27] Francesco Zuccarelli was a founding member, in 1768, of the Royal Academy of Arts.

Final years in Italy (1771–88)[edit]

Upon his return to Italy in 1771, Zuccarelli was soon afterward elected President of the Venetian Academy.[11] The work of his late maturity can broadly be characterized as "neo-Riccian", for in this period the artist's style recalled the precision of his youthful emulation of Marco Ricci.[28] Francesco Zuccarelli eventually settled in Florence, and he died there in 1788.

Reputation and legacy[edit]

Italian Landscape with a Country Festival. Undated. Drawing with body colour. British Museum.

Francesco Zuccarelli was one of the few Venetian painters of his era to win universal acclaim, even from critics who rejected the concept of Arcadia.[29] He was especially popular among the followers of Rousseau.[29] Francesco Maria Tassi (1716–1782), in his Lives of the Painters, Sculptors, and Architects of Bergamo remarks that Zuccarelli paints "landscapes with the most charming figures and thus excels not only artists of modern times but rivals the great geniuses of the past; for no one previously knew how to combine the delights of an harmonious ground with figures gracefully posed and represented in the most natural colours".[30] With the move to more representational modes of depicting landscape in the 19th century, a reaction set in, and his works were to be the subject of the most disparaging invective.[31] A reappraisal of the artist began in 1959 with a landmark article by Michael Levey, Francesco Zuccarelli in England,[32] which helped explain the appeal of his works to his contemporaries by drawing a parallel with the affection of the 18th century English for pastoral poetry.[33] Everyone could recognize a pleasing convention when they saw one, in this case, a fairyland where "the skies are forever blue, the trees forever green."[34] The exaltation of the rural life as a retreat from the noise of urbanity had the sanction of a long and distinguished history; as Levey writes, "Virgil recommended it, Petrarch practiced it, and Zuccarelli illustrated it."[33] A more recent contribution to scholarship has been furnished by the publication of an artistic biography and sixty paintings by Federico Dal Forno in 1994, and the next decade saw the appearance of a catalogue raisonné authored by Federica Spadotto. In a larger cultural context, modern historians have considered Zuccarelli to be a figure of interest with his love of escapism, seen as not untypical of the late Baroque.[17]

During the mid to late 18th century Francesco Zuccarelli was widely imitated, and artists influenced by him included Richard Wilson, Giuseppe Zais, and Vittorio Amedeo Cignaroli.[35][36] Among those who created engravings after his work were Joseph Wagner, Francesco Bartolozzi, and William Woollett.[37]

Identification of works[edit]

His paintings are rarely signed,[38] yet they often contain a gourd water bottle that was held at the waist by rural Italian women, a punning allusion to his surname, zucco being the Italian word for gourd.[39] A defining touch found consistently across the long span of Francesco Zuccarelli's career is a serene and vaguely sweet expression on the faces of his rounded figures.[40]

Selected paintings[edit]

A View of the River Thames from Richmond Hill looking towards Twickenham. (c. 1760). Private collection (Spadotto no. 298[41]).
Saint John the Baptist Preaching (c. 1770). Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow.
  • Saint Michael and the Devil; and The Holy Souls in Purgatory (1725–27) - Oil on canvas, 292 x 197 cm, Museo Civico, Pitigliano
  • Landscape with a Castle; and Landscape with a Bridge (c. 1735) - Oil on canvas, 56 x 73 cm, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest
  • Landscape with River and Shepherds at Rest; and Landscape with Bridge and Knight (c. 1736) - Oil on canvas, 41 x 62 cm, Accademia Carrara, Bergamo
  • Landscape with Peasants at a Fountain (c. 1740) - Oil on canvas, 79.4 x 120.6 cm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
  • Landscape with a Sleeping Child and a Woman Milking a Cow (early 1740s) - Oil on panel, 61 x 91.4 cm, Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh
  • Landscape with a Wayside Tavern (early 1740s) - Oil on canvas, 82.6 x 113 cm, Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey
  • Landscape with a Woman Fording a Stream on Horseback (c. 1742–43) - Oil on canvas, 36.8 x 50.2 cm, Windsor Castle, Windsor
  • Roman Capriccio with Triumphal Arch, the Pyramid of Cestius, St. Peter's Basilica and the Castle of the Holy Angel (with Bernardo Bellotto, 1742–47) - Oil on canvas, 117 x 132 cm, Galleria nazionale, Parma
  • The Meeting of Isaac and Rebecca (1743) - Oil on canvas, 230 x 448 cm, Windsor Castle, Windsor
  • Landscape with Jacob Watering Laban's Flock (1743) - Oil on canvas, 230.5 x 138.4 cm, Windsor Castle, Windsor
  • Landscape with Two Women and a Boy Fishing (1740–45) - Oil on canvas, 133.3 x 79.1 cm, Buckingham Palace, City of Westminster
  • Bacchanal (c. 1745) - Oil on canvas, 142 x 210 cm, Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice
  • The Banqueting Hall, Whitehall (with Antonio Visentini, 1746) - Oil on canvas, 84.1 x 128.9 cm, Windsor Castle, Windsor
  • Silenus with Nymphs (1747) - Oil on canvas, 107 x 142 cm, Sanssouci, Potsdam
  • Saint Jerome Emiliani with Orphans and the Virgin in Glory with Child (1748) - Oil on canvas, 270 x 181.5 cm, Pinacoteca Repossi, Chiari
  • Portrait of Ercole Comini at Two Years (1751) - Oil on canvas, 51 x 41 cm, Accademia Carrara, Bergamo
  • Pastoral Scene (early 1750s) - Oil on canvas, 60 x 88 cm, Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg
  • Eastern Couple with Dromedary (c. 1756–58) - Oil on canvas, 180 x 130 cm, Palazzo Thiene, Vicenza
  • Refreshment during the Ride (c. 1760) - Oil on canvas, 72 x 105 cm, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
  • Et in Arcadio Ego (1760) - Oil on canvas, 76.2 x 90.17 cm, collection Sir James Fergusson, London
  • The Finding of Moses (1768) - Oil on canvas, 227.3 x 386 cm, Windsor Castle, Windsor
  • Saint John the Baptist Preaching on the River Jordan (late 1760s) - Oil on canvas, 56 x 97 cm, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan
  • Bull Hunting (early 1770s) - Oil on canvas, 114 x 150 cm, Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice
  • Banquet at a Villa (1770–1775) - Oil on canvas, 80 x 163 cm, Fondo Ambiente Italiano, Milan



  1. ^ Spadotto (2014), p. 115.
  2. ^ Tassi (1793), Vol. II, p. 86.
  3. ^ a b Spadotto (2007), p. 11.
  4. ^ Spadotto (2007), p. 99.
  5. ^ Massar (1998), pp. 249-261.
  6. ^ There is a difference in wording between Lanzi's 1792 and 1795 editions. In 1792, Lanzi wrote "Nel 1788 morì in Firenze di anni 86 Francesco Zuccherelli di Pitigliano, ammaestrato nella capitale (=Florence) dall'Anesi, poi in Roma dal Morandi e dal Nelli;" then, in 1795, "Molti quadri di vedute campestri son per Firenze dipinte da Paolo Anesi, e ve n'è copia anche in Roma. Da questo fu incamminato nell'arte Francesco Zuccherelli..." (Lanzi 1792 & 1795; quoted in Olivier 1996, p. 319). It seems likely that Zuccarelli already knew Anesi from Rome, or met him in Florence via their common friend Franceso Maria Niccolò Gabburi, whose collection of paintings were devoted almost exclusively to landscape and included five by Anesi, and notably, in light of later developments, four from Marco Ricci. Both Zuccarelli and Anesi (through Gabburi) exhibited at the Accademici del Disegno on the occasion of the festival of St. Luke in Florence in 1729 (Spadotto 2007, p. 11; Olivier 1996, p. 333).
  7. ^ In Bologna, Zuccarelli published a book of prints dedicated to an unknown Florentine friend (Gabburi 1719–41; quoted in Spadotto 2007, p. 379).
  8. ^ There is some disagreement about the timing and extent of Zuccarelli's movements from his Florentine period in the late 1720s to his arrival in Venice, which a few commentators date to 1730. See Spadotto (2007), pp. 12-15.
  9. ^ Spadotto (2007), pp. 16, 100-106.
  10. ^ Spadotto (2007), pp. 15-16.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Theodoli (1995), p. 169.
  12. ^ Spadotto (2007), pp. 16, 25.
  13. ^ Levey writes of three works showing a mid-17th century Dutch influence in the Royal Collection. Landscape with a Wayside Tavern, (possibly a pastiche of Wouvermans), Hampton Court; Landscape with Ruins and Beggar, (a more obvious pastiche of Berchem), Windsor Castle; and Landscape with a Sleeping Child and a Woman Milking a Cow, noted in the Italian List (Cust, 1913) as being a pendant to a work formerly attributed to Rembrandt, and "in his stile [sic]", at Holyroodhouse (Levey 1964, p. 107).
  14. ^ John Thomas Smith, former Keeper of the Prints and Drawings in the British Museum, wrote that "...the latter artist (Canaletto) frequently painted the buildings in Zuccarelli's Landscapes." (Smith 1828, p. 254).
  15. ^ The cards are rather rare, and the set in the Collection of the United States Playing Card Company, in Cincinnati, Ohio, is of particular interest because the collection contains Zuccarelli's original drawings for them. The medium is graphite, and Massar writes that the drawings exemplify Zuccarelli's soft, feathery touch (Massar 1998, pp. 262-263).
  16. ^ The Queen's State Drawing-Room, more frequently known as the Zuccarelli Room, contains The Meeting of Isaac and Rebecca, The Finding of Moses, and seven landscapes. Other paintings by Zuccarelli at Windsor Castle are located in the Pages' Vestibule and the Grand Corridor (Stoughton 1862, pp. 209, 219).
  17. ^ a b c Zampetti (1971), p. 110.
  18. ^ Knox (1996), pp. 33-37.
  19. ^ Spadotto (2007), pp. 153-154.
  20. ^ Levey (1959), pp. 5-6.
  21. ^ Levey (1959), p. 6.
  22. ^ Prestage and Hobbs (1762), pp. 1-3.
  23. ^ Cust (1913), p. 153
  24. ^ Levey (1964), pp. 105-108.
  25. ^ West (2002), p. 715.
  26. ^ Levey (1959), p. 11.
  27. ^ Pyne (1819); cited in Levey (1964), p. 107. The Crown paid Zuccarelli ₤428.8s for 2 pictures and 2 frames on 12 January 1771. (Georgian Papers in the Royal Archives at Windsor, 17253; cited in Levey 1964, p. 105), and Levey suggests the pictures may have been A Harbour Scene with Ruins, Figures and Cattle, and Landscape with a Temple and Cascade, both at Windsor Castle (Levey 1964, p. 107).
  28. ^ Spadotto (2007), p. 41.
  29. ^ a b Haskell (1986), p. 328.
  30. ^ Tassi (1793); English translation quoted by Zampetti (1971), p. 110.
  31. ^ Levey (1959), p. 1.
  32. ^ Spadotto (2007), pp. 48-49.
  33. ^ a b Levey (1959), p. 16.
  34. ^ Levey (1959), pp. 16, 18.
  35. ^ Monkhouse (1900), p. 423.
  36. ^ Spadotto (2009), pp. 326-328.
  37. ^ British Museum, online collection
  38. ^ Spadotto's catalogue raisonné of 430 paintings only describes 26 with signatures (Spadotto 2007, pp. 99-178).
  39. ^ Edwards and Walpole (1808), p. 127.
  40. ^ Spadotto (2007), pp. 17-18.
  41. ^ Spadotto (2007), p. 152.
  42. ^ Pen and brown ink with red chalk, and grey and brown wash, touched with white (British Museum description).
  43. ^ After Giovanni da San Giovanni. British Museum.
  44. ^ Lippi (1731), frontispiece.
  45. ^ Black chalk, pen and brown ink, brown and gray wash heightened with white gouache (Getty Museum description).


  • Cust, Lionel (1913). "Notes on Pictures in the Royal Collections–XXV" [The Italian List]. Burlington Magazine. XXIII. 
  • Edwards, Edward; Walpole, Horace (1808). Anecdotes of painters, who have resided or been born in England, with critical remarks on their productions. London: Leigh and Sotheby. 
  • Gabburi, Franceso Maria Niccolò (1719–41). Vite de' pittori (Unpub. ms., 4 vols.) (in Italian). Florence: Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale. 
  • Haskell, Francis (1986). Patrons and Painters: A Study in the Relations between Italian Art and Society in the Age of the Baroque (2nd ed.). New Haven and London: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-02540-8. 
  • Knox, George (June 1996). "Consul Smith's villa at Mogliano: Antonio Visentini and Francesco Zuccarelli". Apollo. CXLIII. 
  • Lanzi, Luigi (1792). La storia pittorica della Italia inferiore, o sia delle scuole fiorentina, senese, romana, napolitana (in Italian). Florence: A.G. Pagani. 
  • Lanzi, Luigi (1795–96). Storia pittorica della Italia dal Risorgimento delle Belle Arti fin presso la fine del XVIII secolo (in Italian). Bassano: Remondini. 
  • Levey, Michael (1959). "Francesco Zuccarelli in England". Italian Studies. XVI. 
  • Levey, Michael (1964). The Later Italian Pictures in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen. London: Phaidon Press. 
  • Lippi, Lorenzo (pseud. Perione Zipoli) (1731). Il Malmantile Racquistato (Vol. 1) (in Italian). Florence: Michele Nestenus and Francesco Moucke. 
  • Massar, Phyllis Dearborn (September 1998). "The Prints of Francesco Zuccarelli". Print Quarterly. XV. 
  • Monkhouse, William Cosmo (1900). "Zuccarelli, Francesco". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography (Vol. 63). London: Smith, Elder, & Co. 
  • Olivier, Michel (1996). "Recherches Biographiques sur Paolo Anesi". Vivre et Peindre à Rome au XVIIIe Siècle (in French). Rome: Palais Farnèse. 
  • Prestage and Hobbs (1762). Pictures, of Mr. Zuccarelli, painted by himself, consisting of variety in landscapes, history. London. 
  • Pyne, William Henry (1819). The history of the royal residences of Windsor castle, St. James' palace, Carlton house, and Frogmore. London: A. Dry. 
  • Smith, John Thomas (1828). "Francesco Zuccarelli, R.A.". Nollekens and His Times: Comprehending a Life of That Celebrated Sculptor; and Memoirs of Several Contemporary Artists, from the Time Of Roubiliac, Hogarth, and Reynolds, to that of Fuseli, Flaxman, and Blake (Vol II). London: Henry Colburn. 
  • Spadotto, Federica (2007). Francesco Zuccarelli (in Italian). Milan: Bruno Alfieri. ISBN 978-88-902804-1-2. 
  • Spadotto, Federica (2009). "Zuccarelli tra emuli, imitatori e copisti". In Pedrocco, Filippo; Craievich, Alberto. L'impegno e la conoscenza: studi di storia dell'arte in onore di Egido Martina (in Italian). Verona: Scripta edizioni. ISBN 978-88-9616-213-2. 
  • Spadotto, Federica (2014). "Francesco Zuccarelli". Paesaggio veneti del '700 (in Italian). Minelliana. ISBN 978-88-6566-050-8. 
  • Stoughton, John (1862). Windsor: A History and Description of the Castle and Town. London: Ward. 
  • Tassi, Francesco Maria (1793). Vite de' pittori, scultori e architetti bergamaschi (Vol. II) (in Italian). Bergamo: Locatelli. .
  • Theodoli, Olimpia (1995). "Francesco Zuccarelli". In Martineau, Jane; Robison, Andrew. The Glory of Venice: Art in the Eighteenth Century. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300061864. 
  • West, Shearer (2002). "Zuccarelli, Francesco". In Turner, Jane. Dictionary of Art (Vol. 33). New York: Grove. ISBN 9781884446009. 
  • Zampetti, Pietro (1971). "Zuccarelli Francesco". A Dictionary of Venetian Painters (Vol. 4). Leigh-On-Sea: F. Lewis. ISBN 9780853171812. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Pellegrino, Antonio Orlandi; Guarienti, Pietro (1753). Abecedario Pittorico del m.r.p (in Italian). Venice: G.B. Pasquali. 
  • Anon (1789). "Alcune Notìzie di Zuccarelli. Some Account of Zuccarelli". Mercurio Italico:o sia, Ragguaglio Generale intorno alla Letteratura, Belle Arti, Utili Scoperte, ec. di tutta l'Italia [obituary] (in Italian and English). London: Couchman & Fry. 
  • Angelo, Henry (1828). Reminiscences of Henry Angelo, with memoirs of his late father and friends, including numerous original anecdotes and curious traits of the most celebrated characters that have flourished during the last eighty years. London: H. Colburn. 
  • Fabriziani, Giuseppe (1891). Giacomo Francesco Zuccarelli pittore 1702-1788: ricordo per messa novella: Pitigliano maggio 1891 (in Italian). Pitigliano: Tipografia Soldateschi. 
  • Rosa, Gilda (1945). Zuccarelli (in Italian). Milan: G.G. Gorlich. 
  • Levey, Michael (April 1959). "Wilson and Zuccarelli in England". Burlington Magazine. CI. 
  • Bettagno, Alessandro (1989). Francesco Zuccarelli, 1702–1788 : atti delle onoranze, Pitigliano (in Italian). Florence: Università Internazionale dell'Arte. 
  • Dal Forno, Federico (1994). Francesco Zuccarelli pittore paesaggista del Settecento (in Italian). Verona: Arti Grafiche Colombo. 
  • Delneri, Anna (2003). "Il paesaggio arcadico di Francesco Zuccarelli". In Delneri, Anna; Succi, Dario. Da Canaletto a Zuccarelli (in Italian). Udine: Arti Grafiche Friulane Società Editrice. ISBN 8886550723. 
  • Spadotto, Federica (2016). Francesco Zuccarelli in Inghilterra: genesi di un capolavoro (in Italian). Verona: Cierre Grafica. ISBN 9788898768523. 

External links[edit]