CONTI, Francesco
(b. 1681, Firenze, d. 1760, Firenze)


Italian painter, one of the protagonists of 18th-century Florentine painting. When very young, he was a follower of Simone Pignoni (1611-1698). In 1699 the Marquees Riccardi brought him to Rome, where, according to the biographers Francesco Maria Niccolò Gabburri and Orazio Marrini, writing respectively during his life and shortly after his death, was apprenticed by Carlo Maratti and Giovanni Maria Morandi (1622-1717). Back in Florence in 1705, the artist, supported by the powerful family of the Riccardi, became one of the leading artists in town, with commissions by personalities belonging to the Florentine major families, including Anna Maria Ludovica de' Medici.

Initially deeply influenced by the Roman school, as one can see in the gloomy 1709 Crucifixion for San Lorenzo, Conti transformed noticeably his palette in the course of the years, creating joyful masterpieces such as the 1715 Adoration of the Magi for the Monastero Nuovo in Florence or, later on, the sensational Return to Nazareth from Egypt, made for Gabriello Riccardi in 1735, a good example of his loose and extremely painterly style.

The last decades of his long life - Conti died aged 78 in 1760 - were mostly dedicated to teaching activities in the Pubblica Scuola del Disegno held in the Florentine Uffizi palace.

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