The biography of Francesco Zuccarelli (1702 - 1788)

Francesco Zuccarelli (1702 - 1788) was an Italian Rococo painter and decorator, active in England. He influenced 18th-century English landscape painting.

He was born at Pitigliano, in southern Tuscany, 15 August 1702. Zuccarelli’s training began in Florence, where he engraved the frescoes by Andrea del Sarto. He then studied in Rome under Paolo Anesi and learnt figure drawing in Rome with Giorgio Morandi, Pietro Nelli, and perhaps Andrea Locatelli, although in this he never acquired any great skill.

In 1732, he settled in Venice. He became the city’s leading landscape painter, famous as one of the most desired landscape painters of the classicizing 18th century. The praises of his contemporaries underscore his popularity in his own time. Elected to the Venetian Academy in 1763, Zuccarelli became its president in 1772.

Thanks to Joseph Smith, Canaletto’s patron, Zuccarelli’s works developed a strong English market. Zuccarelli visited England twice: at the end of 1752, remaining for 10 years with great success at painting landscapes, and again from 1765 to 1771. He became a founding member of the Royal Academy (1768), and he became one of George III's favourite painters.

He also worked in Paris and in the northern Italian town of Bergamo and spent last two years of his life in Florence, where he died in December 30, 1788.

His paintings often bear a mark representing a pumpkin, a pictorial representation of his name, which signifies little pumpkin. He was reputed to have trained Giuseppe Zais, and influenced Vittorio Amadeo Cignaroli.

Zuccarelli, who was one of the founding members of the Royal Academy, enjoyed the patronage of royalty and of many wealthy English collectors, for whom he executed his principal works-generally a landscape or vedute with classic ruins and small figures.

Zuccarelli created innumerable drawings, some religious paintings, engravings, and tapestry designs. In his softly colored, gentle landscapes, Zuccarelli placed more importance on lyricism than on realistic details. His Arcadian scenes with picturesque peasants earned an international reputation.

In addition to doing much work at Bergamo, he was for a time in Paris, and in he returned to Rome and afterward to his native Tuscany.

His facile paintings of landscapes with ruins and small figures are best seen in Windsor Castle and in the Academy, Venice.