The painter Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini, who is regarded as one of the most important Venetian painters of the early 18th century, was born on this day in 1675 in Venice.
Pellegrini played a major part in the spread of the Venetian style of large-scale decorative painting in northern Europe. He worked in Austria, England, France, Germany, and the Netherlands.
His style incorporated influences of the works of Renaissance artist Paolo Veronese and the Baroque painters Pietro da Cortona and Luca Giordano. Pellegrini was a predecessor of Giovanni Battista Tiepolo in the development of Venetian art.
Pellegrini was a pupil of the Milanese painter Paolo Pagani. He began travelling while still a teenager, accompanying Pagani to Moravia and Vienna.
Pagani studied in Rome for a while before returning to Venice. There he married Angela Carriera, the sister of the portraitist Rosalba Carriera.
In 1709, he accepted the commission to decorate the dome above the staircase at the Scuola Grande di San Rocco in 1709.
Career in England
Pellegrini spent a significant part of his career in England. Alongside Marco Ricci, he worked with Charles Montagu, the future Duke of Manchester. He and Ricci were two of the first Venetians to work in England.
It was for his mural work that Pellegrini became known in England. He painted murals in a number of English country houses, including Kimbolton Castle, Castle Howard and Narford Hall, Norfolk. Pellegrini’s paintings in the dome at Castle Howard in Yorkshire were largely destroyed in a fire in 1940.
In London, Pellegrini worked at 31 St James’s Square for the Duke of Portland, and became a director of Sir Godfrey Kneller’s Academy in London in 1711.
Despite being Christopher Wren’s favourite painter, the Venetian lost out to Sir James Thornhill for decorating the interior dome of the new St Paul’s Cathedral.
After leaving England, Pellegrini subsequently travelled through Germany and the Netherlands on his way back to Italy.
He completed works in many European cities, including Düsseldorf, The Hague, Prague, Dresden, Vienna and Paris.
Pellegrini died in Venice in November 1741.