The Genius of Art


ANDREA APPIANI (1754 1817)
The Genius of Art and the Envious Ones (1805)


The image possesses the lightness of a comic episode studied on Hellenistic vases, appearing in the two-dimensional, softly tonal manner of a Pompeian fresco.

The urinating cupid who ridicules the "envious ones" has a palette and paintbrushes.
Himself a painter, he jokingly adapts classical mythology to the purpose of a contemporary dispute on art.


A classical artist who moved in intellectual circles - he was a friend of Parini, who starting in 1776 held lessons on history and mythology at the Brera Academy; and of Giuseppe Bossi - Appiani experimented in his youth with the fresco technique, perfected through his study of Leonardo and Raphael. Precociously approaching neo-classical modes, he conceived his images as sculptural friezes. In his best work, the principles of neo-classical "good taste" are tempered by soothing recollections of the Lombard naturalistic tradition. In 1791 the artist visited Parma, Bologna, Florence and Rome to obeserve the works of the great 16th and 17th century masters. Upon Napoleon's entry into Milan in May 1796, Appiani was one of the most fervent advocates of the Cisalpine Republic, of which he became the official painter. He was to paint a series of Napoleonic portraits widely admired even in France.