FERNANDI, Francesco
(b. 1679, Milano, d. 1740, Roma)


Italian painter, known as Imperiali. After studying with Carlo Vimercati (1600-c. 1715) in Milan, he travelled throughout Italy, painting for a period in Palermo. He arrived in Rome c. 1705 and was patronized by Cardinal Giuseppe Renato Imperiali, whose name he took. His earliest Roman works were small cabinet pictures of farmyard birds, animals and fish, such as roosters, rabbits and donkeys. Their naturalism and dark colour washes derive from a north Italian tradition and recall the art of Antonio Amorosi (1660-1738) or of Sinibaldo Scorza (1589-1631). In his small studies for conversation pieces he turned however to the art of Bologna and of Venice; their succinct handling and flickering light and shade are similar in style to Giuseppe Maria Crespi.

In Rome, he gained an independent studio, and was apparently popular with visiting British painters, having mentored some of them. Among his Italian pupils is the little-known Camillo Paderni (c. 1738-c. 1770) and the more prominent Pompeo Batoni.

In August 1723, he apparently backed the litigation and lobbying by the academic outsiders (non-members of the Accademia di San Luca in Rome) like Michelangelo Cerruti (1663-1748), who sought to liberalize the control over artistic production held by the Academy. He himself was appointed along with his friend, Agostino Masucci to the Academy in 1723.

He appears to have mastered painting a diversity of themes and styles. He painted large altarpieces in Rome and elsewhere in Italy. In 1735, Filippo Juvarra requested eight large canvases depicting allegorical virtues of ruler for the throne room in the royal palace of La Granja in Spain.