Francesco Salvator Fontebasso

(Italian, 1709–1769)

the communion of the apostles; study for an angel (verso) by francesco salvator fontebasso

Francesco Salvator Fontebasso

The Communion of the Apostles; Study for an Angel (Verso)

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A pupil of Sebastiano Ricci, Francesco Fontebasso spent a brief period in Rome before returning to his native Venice, where he produced a series of engravings after Ricci’s paintings. He established his career in Venice, and was soon in some demand as a fresco painter. In 1734 he decorated the ceiling of the church of the Gesuiti in Venice, and in 1736 painted a fresco cycle for the church of the Annunziata in Trento. He also worked for members of the Venetian aristocracy such as the Barbarigo family, for whom he painted decorative frescoes in the Palazzo Duodo and the Palazzo Barbarigo. In 1761 Fontebasso visited St. Petersburg at the invitation of the Empress Catherine II. He remained in Russia for almost two years, completing a number of decorative projects for the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg and other Imperial palaces, as well as painting a number of portraits and genre scenes. Although he was appointed a Professor at the Imperial Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg, Fontebasso chose to return to Venice in 1762. He became a professor at the Accademia Veneziana, rising to the position of principe in 1768.
Fontebasso made a particular speciality of small-scale easel pictures and modelli, and was also a gifted and prolific draughtsman, with a particular style that owed much to the example of his teacher, Sebastiano Ricci. Most of Fontebasso’s drawings are executed in pen and ink, and while only relatively few may be connected with his paintings, some can be related to the handful of etchings that he made. A number of large and highly finished drawings, depicting Biblical scenes or subjects from ancient history, seem to have been done as independent works of art.