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Pietro Benvenuti

1769 Arezzo – 1844 Florence

Pietro Benvenuti is one of the outstanding representatives of Italian Neoclassicism. He had a precocious talent, and his work reflects a very wide range of stylistic impulses. By the time he was twelve Benvenuti was studying at the Academy in Florence, where his teachers in­cluded Giuseppe Piattoli. Upon completing his apprenticeship in 1792 Benvenuti went to Rome, where he made a thorough study of the works of Raphael and Michelangelo and was influenced by the art of Asmus Jakob Carstens and the Neoclassical style of Jaques Louis David. Benvenuti took an intensive part in the city’s artistic life: he was a regular guest at the salon of Angelika Kauffmann, main­tained close friendly relations with Vincenzo Camuccini and Antonio Canova, and had contacts with foreign artists working in Rome, such as Bertel Thorvaldsen and Christian Gottlieb Schick. In his Roman years Benvenuti also belonged to the Accademia dei Pensieri, an association of young artists founded by Felice Giani, which met at Giani’s home in the Via di Ripetta and whose other members included Camuccini, Luigi Sabatelli and Giuseppe Bossi. It amounted to a kind of private drawing aca­demy in which up-and-coming talents honed their skills in artistic competition among themselves on themes chosen by Giani. Benvenuti soon achieved fame and fortune, as can be seen from his impressive number of public commissions. In 1803 the artist was appointed professor of painting at the Florence Academy and became its director in 1807. In this capacity he helped Neoclassicist painting achieve a breakthrough in Flo­rence and made his preferred academic artistic ideal the dominant style. After Napoleon appointed his sister, Elisa Baciocchi-Bonaparte, Grand Duchess of Tuscany in 1809, Benvenuti became court painter in Florence for a few years.