Antonio ZUCCHI - 1726 - 1795
Figures Dancing before Roman Ruins
Roman School

Pen and black ink, black and grey washes, white heightening
Black ink framing lines

28.5 X 44.6 cm

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Antonio Zucchi, born in Venice in 1726, was the son of Francesco and brother of Giuseppe Zucchi and husband of Angelica Kauffmann. Antonio was a pupil of Carlo Zucchi and was active in the workshop and school of Francesco Fontebasso and Jacopo Amigoni. By 1760, accompanied by the architects Louis Clérisseau and Robert Adam, Antonio Zucchi visited the main cities of Italy. In 1766, upon the invitation of Robert Adam, Zucchi went to London where in 1770 he became an associate of the Royal Academy; exhibiting there for four years during the 1770's. In England he worked together with Robert Adam, decorating his many architectural constructions. In 1776 Zucchi becomes a member of the Venetian Academy. He returned to Venice in 1781 with his newly wed bride where he remained for one year before leaving for Rome. Antonio Zucchi remains in Rome for the remainder of his life, where he dies in 1795, apart from a few trips to England and his native city. The manner of Zucchi lies between the tradition of Venetian rococo and the new neoclassical departures. His work is also very important from the historical point of view, in that he may be considered one of those who helped bring about the transformation of the Venetian painting manner. Of deep perception, he was aware of the changing taste at a surprisingly early stage; he joined the new neoclassical tendency far ahead of other artists of his time. (Zampetti Pietro, "Venetian Painters". F. Lewis publishers, 1972, p.112).

The greater part of Antonio Zucchi's graphic production, was the depiction of scenes from the Roman countryside which were mainly executed in pen and brown ink with the very unique addition of white heightening. This technique of using the white heightening to outline figure groups is a trade mark of the artist which gives the drawings a freshness and luminescent effect which may be the result of his earlier Venetian artistic education. In fact these scenes are of interest in the light of neoclassical developments; also from the point of view of coloring, which is expressed in monochrome series. The present drawing can be compared to four sheets by Antonio Zucchi, formerly with Gallery Kekko in 1995, which derive from a sketchbook by the artist, dated 1791, which was used during his trips around Rome and the surrounding countryside, were created as a finished composition to be sold to his clients, rather than as a study sheet. Other comparative drawings are “The Landscape with Fishers by a River” in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford (inv.no.1104), “A Classical Capriccio” formerly with Christie’s in November 1993, “Figures by a Roman Ruin” formerly with Christie’s London in July 1993, a “Roman Gateway with an Artist Sketching” formerly with Christie’s London in April 1995, and a “View of a Vaulted Entrance with various Figures” formerly with Sotheby’s London in July 2005.
The present drawing can in fact be considered as a preliminary study for paintings by Antonio Zucchi in the dinning room at Saltram House, in Devon near Plymouth, dated to 1768. The room contains four similar caprici with musicians, dancers and bathers. These types of paintings brought back fond memories of the grand tour.


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