The life of Mengs, although he lived only 51 years, can be called established, successful, very mobile, taking place on trips around the countries, caressed by Spanish and German kings, queens and cardinals. And he was born into the family of the artist, the Saxon court painter Ismail Mengs. The future of the boy was already predetermined - he, of course, will become an artist.
Anton Raphael was born in Bohemia. His father is the first teacher to give him the basics of painting. At the age of 13, they leave with their father for Rome and work for three years, studying Renaissance classics and ancient art. The great masterpieces of Raphael had a great influence on the young man, which would subsequently affect the work of Mengs.
His career is simply swift. 1745, at only 17 years old, he receives the post of cabinet painter in Dresden under the Elector of Saxony August III.
Mengs often travels to Italy, where he meets the Roman beauty model Margherita Guazzi and marries her in 1748. By the way, the marriage was very successful and prolific, Anton and Margherita will have seven children. A year later, upon returning to Dresden, the 21-year-old painter was appointed a court painter, and since 1751 - the chief painter at the court.
He is more inclined to religious painting and mainly his work is fresco, for altar compositions. His “Ascension”, made for the Dresden court church, “The Triumph of St. Eusebio” for the Roman church, the painting of the ceiling in the villa of Cardinal Alessandro Albani are known.
His style is classic, neoclassicism, rejection of excessive rococo splendor. In his works, the artist prefers not light effects and pathos, but simplicity, morality and enlightenment. Such views of the artist are formed under the influence of German art critic Johann Winkelmann, who becomes Mengs's friend for many years.
The painter enjoys the patronage of the Spanish patron José de Azar, receives the papal knightly order of the Golden Spur from Pope Clement XIII. Fulfilling orders, Mengs travels a lot in the cities of Naples, Caserta, Bologna, Rome, Dresden. In addition to works on frescoes and paintings on religious subjects, Mengs also becomes known as a portrait painter. Famous and influential people of that time pose for him - King of Prussia Frederick the Great and King of Spain Charles III, singer Domenic Annibally and many others.
In 1761, at the invitation of the Spanish court, Mengs went to Madrid with the talented Italian artist Giovanni Battisto Tieppolo to decorate the Oriental Palace, the official residence of the Spanish kings. But still continues to travel to Italy to paint portraits of royalty and paintings. In Rome in 1774 he became president of the Academy of St. Luke.
In the Spanish period, such works as Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, Apotheosis of Hercules, Aurora, Parnassus, portraits of Carlos IV, Maria Amalia of Saxony, self-portraits, sketches are known.
His paintings are aesthetically beautiful, the author harmoniously combines the classics of composition and the beauty of silhouettes. The figures, especially in religious subjects, are noble, sublime and humane, like Raphael, whom Mengs has honored all his life. The portraits of the painter are very realistic and individual.
In 1777, he leaves Madrid and settles in Rome. In 1779, a talented artist died. The works of Anton Rafael Mengs were liked by the Russian Empress Catherine II and she bought them with pleasure. Thanks to this, we are now admiring the paintings of the magnificent painter in the Hermitage.