Mengs (22 March 1728 to 29 June 1779) –
He was talented, but tended to the mediocre, especially in executing large commissions (he was like a Bohemian Luca Giordano), and his go-for-baroque style reveals his inadequacy, compared to the true greats. That middle-name of his is a bit rich!
He did big, creamy, faux-classical confectionery, including these less-than-inspired bookends:
Goethe, apropos the Mengs oeuvre: “so much learning…allied to a total want of initiative and poverty of invention, and embodied with a strained and artificial mannerism.”
Have a look at his manic-street preacher of a John the Baptist (c. 1775):
The artist Philip Otto Runge, in a letter to his brother dated 9 March 1802, said: “…art has declined; what does that mean but that the spirit has escaped? Annibale Carracci and others only began with the composition, Mengs with the design; our noisy people nowadays begin only with the tone.”
Casanova, painted by Mengs (below), commented: ““Rhetoric makes use of nature’s secrets in the same way as painters who try to imitate it: their most beautiful work is false.”
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