More from the Lower Shelf – Anton Raphael Mengs

March 22, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART | 0 Comments |

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:

Low Noon: “Helios as Personification of Midday” (c. 1765)

Oops…”Hesperus as Personification of Evening” (c. 1765)

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.”

Perseus and Andromeda (1773-1778)

Have a look at his manic-street preacher of a John the Baptist (c. 1775):

“Anton! Put down your brush already! You’ll never get the hang of this!”

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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