Francesco Trevisani
Prominent Istrians

rancesco Trevisani (Barbieri?) was born in Capodistria (now Koper) on April 9, 1656, the son of Antonio Trevisani, an architect of some note. It was from his father that he received his first training in drawing and design basics.


born in Capodistria

He then went to study art in Venice at the studio of the painting master Antonio Zanchi, and then at the school of Giuseppe Henz d'Augusta (Joseph Heintz the Younger), an elderly genre painter.

When Henz died, Trevisani eloped with a young Venetian lady of high family and fled to Rome when he was 21, staying in Rome until his death at the venerable age of 90. Not long after his arrival, he was admitted to the Guild of St. Luke. He forsook the Venetian manner soon after his arrival, and adopted that of Guido, Domenichino, and others. He studied the work of Annibale Carraci (1560-1609), was inspired by Antonio da Correggio (1489/90-1534), and spent time in the company of the leading painter in Rome of the 17th century, Carlo Maratta (1625-1713) and his followers who were then in fashion.

Trevisano obtained great success as a painter of altar pieces executed for numerous Roman churches. The strong influenced by Carlo Maratta (1625-1713) is manifested in Trevisani's masterpiece, the frescoes in San Silvestro in Capite (1695-1696). In this commission, he worked alongside Giuseppe Bartolomeo Chiari (1654-1727), also known simply as Giuseppe Chiari, and Ludovico Gimignani (1643–1697).

Francesco Trevisani is sometimes called "Roman Trevisani" or "Il Romano" to distinguish him from his brother, Angelo Trevisani of Venice (1669-1753/55), who was famous in his own right but worked mainly in Venice. In Rome he was favoured with the patronage of Cardinal Flavio Chigi (1711-1771), nephew of Fabio Chigi who was Pope Alexander VII. Chigi employed him in several considerable works, and recommended him to the protection of Pope Clement XI. (Giovanni Francesco Albani), who not only commissioned him to paint one of the Prophets in S. Giovanni Laterano, but engaged him to decorate the cupola of the cathedral at Urbino. There he represented, in fresco, allegories of the four Quarters of the World, in which he displayed much invention and ingenuity.

Francesco became a member of the Academy of Arcadia in 1712.

Between 1721 and 1727, he also received commissions in Turin. For the House of Savoy, Trevisani painted a Madonna Immacolata, adored by San Luigi and the Beato Amedeo of Savoy. It was hung in the Chapel of Sant'Uberto at Venaria Reale. King Vittorio Amedeo II liked the painting so much that, beyond the agreed price he gave Trevisani a "country" silver set. The Saint Philip monks commissioned him for a Martirio of San Sebastiano painting, which today still hangs in the Church of San Filippo in Turin. He was also asked to paint for Palazzo Barolo, then the Provana di Druent, for whom he painted a decoration dedicated to the four seasons. He showed talent in imitating the style of the old masters, and was employed by the Duke of Modena, who then resided at Rome as ambassador from the King of Spain, in copying the works of Correggio, Parmigiano, Paolo Veronese and other favorite painters. He performed these works in such an admirable manner that it procured him the honour of knighthood (Cavaliere). 

At the death of Cardinal Chigi, Trevisani met with another powerful friend in Venetian-born Cardinal Pietro Vito Ottoboni (or Ottobuoni), later Pope Alexander VIII (1689-1691), who employed him to adorn his gallery, for which he painted a celebrated picture, representing the Murder of the Innocents which hangs in the Dresden Gallery. That painting, however, is not nearly so effective a picture as the same subject by another Venetian, Andrea Celesti, who had been his brother's teacher, also hanging in that Gallery.

Trevisani's composition is grand and his chiaroscuro forcible, his execution free and bold. His figures were generally correct and graceful, and his tints were uncommonly clear, bright and beautiful. He became the greatest Roman painter of his generation and the public buildings of Rome abound with his works. The number of commissions which he received compelled him to work almost without intermission, nor did any person of consequence pass through Rome without endeavoring to procure some piece of his hand, either of a portrait, history, architecture, landscape, animals or flowers, all of which subjects he painted with equal readiness and excellence.

His altar pieces and cabinets painting depicted biblical and mythological themes in a style that varies between the classicism of Maratti and the softer, sweeter manner of the Barocchetto, and were rather sentimental in their tones. However, he is admired for his competent precise portraits, both of noble Italian patrons and visiting Grand Tourists which are distinguished by their unusual informality and the sense of intimacy between the artist and subject. He is also admired for  his vast landscape scenes showing historic and mythological events, including Betsabea al bagno (Pommersfelden, Coll, Schonborn) and Banchetto di Cesare e Cleopatra.

The students of Francesco Trevisani included:

  • Claudio Francesco Beaumont (1694-1766),
  • Carlo Innocenzo Carlone (1685-1775),
  • Andrea Casali (c. 1720-1770),
  • Placido Costanzi (1690-1759),
  • Giorgio Domenico Duprà (1689-1770),
  • Gregorio Guglielmi (1714-1773),
  • Girolamo Pesci (1684-1759),
  • Pietro Antonio Rotari (1707-1762),
  • Bartolomeo Nazari (1693-1758), who had first studied with his brother, Angelo Trevisani
  • Francisco Vieira Lusitano (there are several painters with this name, so dates are uncertain),
  • Francesco Civalli Perugino,
  • Cav. Lodovico Mazzanti (1686-1775),
  • Giovanni Batista Bruglii.

To unbend his mind from the fatigue of his profession, Trevisani associated himself with a few ingenious friends - among whom was the baroque composer Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713) who owned at least two of Trevisani's pointings - and had a small elegant theatre erected in his house where comedies were performed. Trevisani was himself a poet of some note.

Notwithstanding the great age of 90 which he reached, Trevisani preserved the same delicacy of coloring to the last period of his life, nor was the elegance of his design perceptibly impaired by his years. While painting a picture of St. Michael, for Naples, he was suddently attacked with a complaint in the throat, and he died in Rome on July 30, 1746.


Selected works (with images)

Notable works:

  • S. Maria in Aracoeli (1729). 
  • Repose of Diana, Rennes Museum;
  • The Dead Christ carried by Angels, Vienna Museum;
  • Massacre of Innocents, Dresden Museum;
  • Holy Family, Dresden Museum;
  • Repose in Egypt, Dresden Museum;
  • Madonna and St John, Dresden Museum;
  • Madonna and St Elizabeth, Dresden Museum;
  • Christ in Garden of Olives, Dresden Museum;
  • St Anthony of Padua, Dresden Museum;
  • St Francis in Ecstasy, Dresden Museum;
  • Magdalen Penitent, Leipsic Museum;
  • St Sebastian, Old Pinakothek, Munich;
  • Diana and Endymion, Cassel Gallery;
  • Triumph of Galatea, Cassel Gallery;
  • do. of Venus, Cassel Gallery;
  • Artist's Self-portrait, Cassel Gallery;
  • Archangel Michael overthrowing Satan, Schleissheim Gallery;
  • Portrait of a Bishop, Schleissheim Gallery;
  • 'Noli me Tangere'; Uffizi;
  • Antony and Cleopatra; Palazzo Spada (as of 1889)
  • Keale galL di Firenze, iv. 147;
  • Martirio di sant'Andrea (ante 1708), Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria, Sala 29;
  • Het feest van Marcus Antonius (ca. 1710), Galleria Spada, Rome [afbeelding via SCALA ;
  • The Annunciation (1710), Chapel of the Annunciation (first left chapel), Church of St. Filippo Neri, Perugia;
  • The Stigmata of St. Francis (1719), high altar of Santissime Stimmate di San Francesco (Most Holy Stigmata of St Francis), Largo delle Stimmate (off Largo Torre Argentina), 00186 Roma;
  • Il Martirio di San Lorenzo / Martyrdom of St. Lawrence (1723), Chiesa di S. Filippo Neri, Via Maria Vittoria, ang. via Lagrange, Torino;
  • La comunione degli apostoli (c. 1737), altare maggiore, Chiesa di S. Maria, Via Umberto I, Betlem, Comune di Foligno. La pala del celebre Trevisani con la Comunione è il vertice artistico di questa chiesa. Restauro finanziato da Lions Club, Rotary Club e Inner Wheel, con il contributo della Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio;
  • Pope Clemente XI (Giovanni Francesco Albani);
  • La Trinità, S. Antonio, and S. Lucia (three paintings), Chiese di Soffragio, Porto San Giorgio: three paintings;
  • Il profeta Baruch, navate centrale, la Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano;
  • Gloria di S. Pellegrino, Sacrestia, Chiesa di S. Pellegrino, Forli;
  • Cristo e la Samaritana al pozzo / Christ and the Samaritan woman at the well, Vaticano, Sala XV;
  • Christi Leichnam, von Engeln gehalten, 124 x 139 cm, Standort: Wien, Kunsthistorisches Museum;
  • S. Giosafat nel deserto, Prima capella a destra, Chiesa di Santo Stefano, Roma - Tela in cui emergono con evidenza l'utilizzo dei toni patetici e del chiaroscuro che la critica ha sempre riferito al pittore istriano, che stemperò gli eccessi barocchi in un colorismo accademico espressione della nuova arcadia;
  • Sir Edward Gascoigne, Main Hall, Lotherton Hall, West Yorkshire, England;
  • Trinità con Addolorata, S. Carlo Borromeo e S. Filippo Neri (olio su tela,cm.281 x 185). Montefiascone, Seminario Cardinale Barbarigo, Viterbo. Intervento (di restauro) eseguito nel 1989 revisionato in occasione della mostra;
  • The Murder of Saint Vaclav, 538 x 556 cm., painted by 85 years old Francesco Trevisani, main alter of church in Zamberk, Czech Republic. First it was supposed that the altar was painted by Petr Brandl, but later Jaromir Neumann attributed the painting. Brandl was dead by the time the church was built in 1729 to replace an earlier church burned down by lightning. The painting was placed into the church in 1741. The picture shows two sitting people – Saint Vojtech and Saint Prokop - and two standing people - Saint Vit and Saint Zikmund;
  • Christ Before Caiaphas, a small painting on copper, Princeton Univeristy, University Art Museum, gift of George and Fern Wachter. Paint applied to the non-absorbant copper support took on special richness, and the medium was appreciated for its durability and precisely rendered details. Here Christ, on trial before the Jewish high priest Caiaphas, responds during the interrogation that he is, indeed, the son of God, and Caiaphas tears his robes in outrage at this blasphemy. The painting is enlivened by a bright palette, dramatic lighting, and a chained monkey, whose posture mimics that of the bound Christ.
  • The Holy Family with the Infant Saint John the Baptist
    Museum quality old master painting "Holy family with St.John Baptist", OIL ON CANVAS; PRICE : 24000 €.
  • and other works at Brunswick, Madrid, Munich, Stockholm, and Vienna.

Trevisano's last painting was The Banishment from Earthly Paradise (Cacciata di Adamo ed Eva dal Paradiso terrestre / Uddrivelsen af Det Jordiske Paradis) transverse nave of Santa Maria Degli Angeli (Our Lady of the Angels), 9 Via Cernale (Piazza della Repubblica) Roma - wall of right arm of the transept;

Top prices of Trevisani works at recent auction:

  • Painting: USD 80000 / EUR 71952: "The Three Marys""
  • Painting: USD 75000 / EUR 70188: "The Resurrection"
  • Drawing-Watercolour: USD 26980 / EUR 28965: "Études pour un «Enlèvement de Déjanire»"

Works made available at recent auctions:

  • Vergine in preghiera
  • Cristo deposto e due angeli
  • The Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist
  • Portrait of Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni (1667-1740)
  • The Penitent Magdalen
  • La flagellation du Christ
  • Preparativi per la crocifissione di Cristo
  • Madonna
  • San Giovanni Nepomuceno
  • Sacra Famiglia
  • Allegoria della Temperanza
  • Etude d'une jeune fille, avec des études subsidiaires des mains
  • Saint Jean l'Evangéliste
  • Resurrezione di Cristo
  • Maddalena
  • La Madonna che cuce
  • Studies of a draped Woman's Head

See also:


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Created: Sunday, October 05, 2003; Last Updated: Thursday, April 14, 2016
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