Jean - Luc Baroni Ltd



Francesco Zuccarelli R.A.

Pitigliano, Umbria 1702-1788 Florence

River Landscape with a Cavalier and his Dogs by a Fountain




Oil on canvas.
52 x 94 cm (20 ½ x 37 in.)

Zuccarelli made his reputation in Venice as a painter of Arcadian landscapes but he also achieved great popularity in England where he spent two extended periods, becoming in 1768, a founding member of the Royal Academy of Arts. He first studied in Rome, and his style was based upon an understanding of Roman classicism and the 17th century landscape school of Claude Lorraine. Zuccarelli also spent time in Florence where he was commissioned by the connoisseur Francisco Maria Niccolo Gabburi to make a large series of etchings recording the deteriorating frescoes of Andrea del Sarto and Giovanni di San Giovanni. Zuccarelli is said to have been encouraged to paint landscapes by the Roman artist Paolo Anesi and following a stay in Bologna, he moved to Venice continuing in the landscape genre and studying the work of Marco Ricci and Alessandro Magnasco. Ricci’s death in 1730 gave Zuccarelli the opportunity to become noticed in this field and collectors such as Consul Smith, Marshal Schulenburg and Francesco Algarotti became eager patrons. In the 1740s he collaborated with Antonio Visentini on a series of works ranging from the grand, large-scale decorative views with Palladian style architectural elements which are now in Burlington House to a set of playing cards. Consul Smith commissioned both projects as well as the series of seven paintings now at Windsor Castle which are considered to be Zuccarelli’s greatest achievement.  

Zuccarelli spent ten years in England, from 1752 and on returning to Venice in 1762 he only remained there for three years, becoming a member of the Venetian Academy, before being enticed back to London by his friend Algarotti. During this second extended stay, King George III became his most enthusiastic patron. His long career was completed by a further decade in Venice before his final return to Florence. Though his reputation declined in the 19th century, as the taste for realism established itself, during his lifetime Zuccarelli was extremely influential; his graceful, subtly coloured, pastorals with their sophisticated poetry of landscape, figures and architectural detail were the essence of the refined landscape convention which had begun with Claude Lorraine.

Dr. Federica Spadotto, author of the recent monograph on the artist1, considers this to be a superb example of the artist’s work, datable to the 1750s and typical of his mature style with its atmospheric effect of hazy light2. Dr. Spadotto will be publishing the picture in her forthcoming volume dedicated to Zuccarelli’s Venetian landscapes. She points out the exquisite softness of touch and light handling. The evidence of Zuccarelli’s English period is visible in the depiction of the elegant horseman with his dogs, telling perhaps of the artist’s encounter with George Stubbs. The equine subject was particularly appreciated by English collectors while the picturesque washerwomen in the foreground are an element typical of Zuccarelli’s own arcadian evocations which as Dr. Spadotto describes are poised harmoniously between reality and dream.  

1. See F. Spadotto, Francesco Zuccarelli, catalogue raisonné of the paintings, Milan 2007.
2. See extensive descriptive letter from the author Francesca Spadotto 

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