CACCIANIGA, Francesco
(b. 1700, Milano, d. 1781, Roma)

Biography

Italian painter. A diligent craftsman of little originality, he created art that derived from the traditions of classical Bologna and Baroque Rome. In 1717 he moved to Bologna, where he studied with Ferdinando Galli-Bibbiena and probably with Carlo Cignani and Marcantonio Franceschini. In 1719 he was commissioned by Conte Calderari to paint the Martyrdom of St Catherine (untraced) for the church of S Maria Beltrade (destroyed), Milan, and the same patron commissioned three biblical scenes for his Milanese palazzo. After this Caccianiga settled in Rome, where in 1727 he won first prize for drawing in a competition organized by the Accademia di S Luca with a Belshazzar's Feast (Rome, Galleria Accademia Nazionale di S. Luca). His painting of St Celso Triumphing over the Pagan Priests (1736-38) for the main chapel of SS Celso e Giuliano, Rome, demonstrates the influence of the proto-Neo-classical culture then fashionable in Rome. In 1740 Caccianiga was elected into both the Virtuosi del Pantheon and the Accademia di S Luca, in which he held various posts.

A bitter disagreement with Cardinal Furietti made it difficult for him to further his career in Rome, so for a period he worked in the Papal States (Ancona, Morrovalle and Camerano), in Milan and in Portugal. He also painted four overdoors (untraced) for Charles-Emanuel III of Savoy, King of Sardinia, that were important in the development of Neo-classicism. After 1760 he was again working in Rome, on decorations at Casa Gavotti and at Palazzo Vidoni. It was presumably at this time that he executed his paintings for the University Chapel of Salamanca in Spain. In 1773-74 he painted his best-known work, the Aurora in Palazzo Borghese, and five years later the Fall of Phaethon for a ceiling at the Villa Borghese, his last work.