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Opere Di Antonio Raffaello Mengs Primo Pittore Della Maestà Di Carlo III, Re Di Spagna Ec.Ec. Ec. Pubblicate Da D. Giuseppe Niccola d'Azara.

Anton Raphael Mengs

RA Collection: Book

Record number



Uniform Title

[Works., Italian., 1780.]

Variant Title

Riflessioni su la Bellezza e sul Gusto della Pittura
Frammento di un Discorso sopra i mezzi per far fiorire le Belle Arti in Spagna
Ragionamento su l'Accademia delle Belle Arti di Madrid
Gedanken über die Schönheit und über den Geschmack in der Malerey


Parma: Dalla Stamperia Reale, M. DCC. LXXX.

Physical Description

2 vols. in one [v.I: [viii], lxxiv, 252, [1]p. - v.II: [ii], 302, [2]p.]; 287 mm. (Quarto).


Vol.I: [T.p., epigraph, divisional t.p., dedic.] - [Texts, with divisional t.pp.] - Indice. - Vol.II: [T.p.] - [Texts with divisional t.pp.] - Indice - tavola Delle Materie Contenute Ne' Due Volumi - Errori Correzioni Tomo II.

Responsibility Note

Azara was assisted in his editing by Francesco Milizia. It appears that Azara, not Mengs, was the author of the Frammento d'un discorso sopra i mezzi di far fiorire le belle arti nella Spagna (see the Azara-Bodoni correspondence edited by Ciavarella).

The book was printed under the direction of Bodoni, and his biographer, G. de Lama, says that he took special care over its printing.

The publication is dedicated by the editor, Azara, to King Charles III of Spain.


S. Roettgen, Anton Raphael Mengs 1728-1779 and his British patrons (1993); R. Cioffi Martinelli, La ragione dell'arte: teoria e critica in Anton Raphael Mengs e Johann Joachim Winkelmann (1981); A.D. Potts, 'Greek sculpture and Roman copies, I: Anton Raphael Mengs and the eighteenth century', in J. Warburg & Courtauld Inst., 43 (1980), p. 150-173; De Azara-Bodoni [correspondence], ed. A. Ciavarella (1979); T. Pelzel, Anton Raphael Mengs and Neoclassicism (1979); M. Sutter, Die kunsthistorischen Begriffe des Malerphilosophen Anton Raphael Mengs (1968); G. L. Bianconi, Elogio storico del Cavaliere Antonio Raffaello Mengs (Milan, 1780); M. Crawford Volk, 'The Madrid Academy', in A. Bull., LXI (1979), p. 627; I. Henares Cuéllar, La teoria de las artes plásticas en España en la segunda mitad del siglo XVIII (1977).

Summary Note

In the first volume appear Mengs's 'Riflessioni su la Bellezza, e sul Gusto della Pittura', with Azara's observations, a 'Frammento di un Discorso sopra i mezzi per far fiorire le Belle Arti in Spagna' and a letter to Falconet. (The Riflessioni su la Bellezza had originally been published in German in 1762 [Gedanken über die Schönheit und über den Geschmack in der Malerei]; the Discorso sopra i mezzi per far fiorire le Belle Arti in Spagna, in 1766.) The second volume contains Mengs's letters to Fabroni and Ponz, 'Descrizione de' principali Quadri del Palazzo Reale di Madrid', a letter to a friend 'sopra il Principio, Progresso, e Decadenza dell' Arti del Disegno', memorials of the life and work of Correggio, and Reflections on his excellence, with notes, 'Ragionamento su l'Accademia delle Belle Arti di Madrid', and 'Lezioni pratiche di Pittura'. (The Ragionamento su l'Accademia delle Belle Arti di Madrid had first been published in 1766.)

The collected works were soon translated into French (1786), German, Spanish and English (1796).

In his Riflessioni su la bellezza, while owing something to earlier theorists such as Lomazzo and Bellori, Mengs draws much from rhetorical theory, and categorises the visual arts under such concepts as the elevated, the beautiful, the charming, the significant, the natural. He argues that beauty is an imperfect manifestation of divine perfection; and that art may surpass nature by synthesising particulars into an ideal - thus echoing ideas anciently attributed to Zeuxis. His letter to Fabroni is interesting as stressing the fact that many of the best-known ancient statues are copies.

Mengs received commissions from all over Europe, including several from British patrons. By the late eighteenth century his devotion to Raphael, Correggio and Titian and his reworking of canonic models became unfashionable, but his exposition of painting techniques was valued far into the nineteenth century.


Presented by Mr. Simmons (CM III, 369 (1806 Jan. 23). Recorded in RAA Library, Catalogue, 1802.

Binding Note

18th-century mottled calf; rebacked in 20th century, gilt-decorated spine lettered '1780', red morocco spine-label lettered 'Opere Di Mengs'.

Name as Subject


Art - Aesthetics - Painting - Taste (aesthetics) - Theory - Connoisseurship
Paintings, European - Patronage - Academies (organizations) - Art education - Schools - Teaching - Spain - History - 18th century
Art history - Art criticism - Essays - Manuals - Europe - Italy - Spain - 18th century - Neoclassical
Typography - Italy - 18th century