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Johan Zoffany | Neoclassical Portrait painter



Known primarily as a painter of portraits, conversation pieces and theatrical subjects, Johan Zoffany (1733-1810) was born Johannes Josephus Zauffaly, in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany. The son of an architect and court cabinet maker, he was brought up at the court of Alexander Ferdinand, Prince von Thurn und Taxis, and enjoyed court patronage throughout his career. When the Prince took up residence at Regensburg, Johan was apprenticed to a local painter, Martin Speer (c.1702-65).









Upon completion of his apprenticeship, he made the first of two trips to Rome in 1750, studying with the portrait painter Masucci. On a second trip a short time later, he made the acquaintance of Piranesi.
Zoffany arrived in England around 1760 but, hindered in part by his poor English, initially was obliged to take work for the clockmaker Stephen Rimbault, painting scenes for clock-faces. He then worked in the studio of Benjamin Wilson (1721-88), a minor portraitist, as a drapery painter. His career in England was established when the actor-manager David Garrick became his first major English patron. 
Zoffany painted four conversation pieces of the Garrick household in 1762, as well as numerous theatrical pictures which brought him to the attention of the public and, more importantly, Queen Charlotte, who became his patron.
Zoffany exhibited at the Society of Artists from 1762-1769. He was nominated by George III for membership in the Royal Academy in 1769, exhibiting there from 1770-1800. 
Between 1772-1778 he worked primarily in Florence, where he painted The Interior of the Tribuna at Florence (Royal Collection). He returned to London in 1779 but, after a falling out with the King and Queen over his Tribuna, went to India in 1783, remaining until 1789. By 1809, according to the diarist Farington in his entry for 14 March of that year, 'Zoffany's faculties were gone. He is become childish' (Kathryn Cave (ed.), The Diary of Joseph Farington, IX, New Haven and London 1982, p.3421). He died at his home at Strand-on-the-Green and is buried in Kew Churchyard near London. | © Tate Gallery













































A bottega da Martin Speer a Ratisbona, dal 1747 al 1750, in quest'ultima data compì il suo primo viaggio a Roma dove studiò con Agostino Masucci. In Germania nel 1758, due anni dopo lavorò con Januarius Zick alla decorazione del Palazzo Reale di Treviri. Trasferitosi in Inghilterra, lavorò prima come decoratore di quadranti d'orologio e come pittore di tendaggi drappeggiati negli sfondi dei ritratti di Benjamin Wilson.
Nella capitale inglese si accostò alla pittura di soggetto teatrale, anche grazie alla conoscenza dell'attore David Garrick, che lo ospitò sino al 1762 e al genere delle conversation pieces, dipingendo anche ritratti e soggetti di fantasia.
Per la famiglia reale inglese eseguì: Il principe di Galles e il principe Federico in veste di Cupido, 1765 e La regina Carlotta e i suoi due figli, 1766. Verso il 1769 re Giorgio III lo nominò membro della Royale Academy.
Nel 1773 fu a Firenze dove, su commissione della regina Carlotta, moglie di Giorgio III, esegui, entro il 1776, la tela raffigurante la Tribuna degli Uffizi.
Nel 1776 fu a Vienna dove l'imperatrice Maria Teresa lo nominò barone del Sacro Romano Impero. Dalla primavera del 1778 fece soggiorno a Parma, invitato alla corte di Asburgo-Lorena probabilmente dalla granduchessa di Toscana, Maria Luisa.
Qui dipinse opere come il ritratto di Don Ferdinando di Borbone, il quadretto La scartocciata, conservati presso la Galleria nazionale di Parma, e un ritratto dei figli della coppia ducale, oggi al Kunsthistorisches Museum di Vienna.
A Londra nel 1779, nel 1782 eseguì l'olio su tela con Charles Townley nella sua biblioteca in Park Street a Londra, ora conservata al Townley Hall Museum and Art Gallery di Burnley, in cui la raccolta di sculture antiche invade letteralmente la biblioteca del collezionista inglese. Nel 1783 partì per le Indie Orientali, lavorando maggiormente come ritrattista e rientrando a Londra nel 1789. | © Wikipedia


Johan Zoffany - The Portraits of the Academicians of the Royal Academy, 1771-72, The Royal Collection © 2011, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II