ROTARI, Pietro Antonio
(b. 1707, Verona, d. 1762, St. Petersburg)

King Augustus III of Poland

Oil on canvas, 108 x 86 cm
Gemäldegalerie, Dresden

Frederick Augustus was born in 1696, the son of Frederick Augustus I, Elector of Saxony, who from 1697 was King Augustus II (the Strong) of Poland. During his educational travels from 1711 to 1719 through Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France, the Prince Elector converted to Catholicism in 1712 while at Bologna. In 1719 he married the Austrian Archduchess Maria Josepha and in 1733 succeeded his father to the throne as Elector of Saxony and King of Poland. His reign saw a blossoming of the arts in Dresden, not only the visual arts, but also music, opera and architecture. Augustus III died in Dresden on 5 October 1763.

Rotari's portrait shows the monarch wearing his breastplate under a blue coat and supporting his left hand on his staff, with before him part of his ermine robe. Set resplendently on his chest is the Catholic Order of the Golden Fleece, and almost completely obscured on the lower left is the Polish Order of the White Eagle hanging on a blue ribbon.