Achilles and
          Chiron



 


POMPEIO BATONI (1708 - 1787)
Achilles and Chiron the Centaur (1746)




 

The painting reflects a very attentive, even zealous knowledge of the great 16th-17th century mythological tradition. For every detail a source could be indicated, a citation mentioned - the Veronesian herma, Gaspard Dughet's great leafy oaks, Domenichino's pale flesh, Reni's scenes of abduction. But such a catalogue of historical references would have no particular importance. Batoni chooses to lean on a repertoire and to re-interpret it substantially, conferring on it with new life. In confrontation with the great Classical-Renaissance tradition, he shows the delicate touch of the archeologist/restorer.

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After early training in drawing with his father, a goldsmith, Batoni was at Rome in 1727, where he was assisted financially by patrons of the arts from Lucca. He made drawings of ancient statues which he sold to foreigners. He studied Raphael and the great 17th century Classicists, from whom he learned balanced naturalness. Starting as collaborator of famous landscape painters, specializing in painting figures, by the middle of the century, Batoni had become one of the most successful artists in Rome.
He was ranked on the same level as Mengs, with whom he contended the title of the first painter of the neo-classical school. Active in religious and mythological painting, a portrait painter of international fame, in great demand by foreigners visiting Rome, he was a highly cultivated but never programmatic artist. He combines sensual irony with a search for easy elegance.