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Antonio Franchi

called Lucchese, 1638 Villa Basilica/Lucca – 1709 Florence

The Lucca painter Antonio Franchi led an eventful life spent in various Italian art centres. In his home town Franchi was first a pupil of Giovanni Domenico Ferrucci and then of Matteo Boselli. While still a student in Lucca he attended the Accademia del Nudo founded by Pietro Paolini in 1640. By 1655 he was in Florence, where Baldessare Franceschini, known as il Volterrano, was one of his tutors. It was here that the young artist made his first attempts as a portrait painter. In the following period Franchi was alternately in Florence and Lucca. In the latter town he served as cleric and painter to Cardinal Girolamo Buonvisi in the years 1658–59 and devoted himself to the study of philosophy. Circa 1665–67 we find the artist in Rome, where he moved in the artistic circles around Pietro Testa and Antonio Gherardi. Sponsored by Volterrano and enjoying the patronage of such Florentine noble families as the Medici, Strozzi and Capponi, Franchi decided in 1674 to move for good to Florence, where he successfully established himself as a portraitist and painter of historical and mythological subjects, which he executed in the light, gracious style of the Late Baroque. Franchi was also a very versatile and well-educated man who wrote on matters of religion, philosophy, the natural sciences and art theory.