Dictionary of London Immigrants |||

1729-1739 - St James’s Square (Westminster)

Painter Jacopo Amigoni was born around 1685 in Venice. From 1717 onwards he was recorded working in Bavaria. He moved to London in 1729. As an architectural decorator he joined forces with Gaetano Brunetti working on Lord Tankerville’s house in St James’s Square in early 1730 and on the Duke of Chandos’s residence at Cavendish Square in 1735.

His work was fashionable in aristocratic London, but the taste for Venetian Rococo painting had started to decline by that time. It began to raise hackles, leading to a movement in favour of a more robust English style in music, theatre, and art. His staircase decoration for the Spanish ambassador at Powis House sparked controversy in 1734.

Amigoni was attacked by James Ralph in the Weekly Register as a foreigner who painted in an overblown and superficial manner, compared to the wholesome qualities of English art. Hogarth shared such feelings of hostility. After his 1738 marriage to mezzo-soprano Maria Antonia Marchesini, he returned to Italy in 1739. He was a friend of the celebrated castrato Farinelli whose portrait he painted twice (1735 and 1752). In 1747 he was appointed court painter to Ferdinand VI of Spain and Director of the Royal Academy of Saint Fernando. He died in Madrid in 1752. His daughter Caterina Amigoni Castellini was a pastellist living in Spain.

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