Saturday, May 03, 2008

Descent of the Holy Spirit

Anton Raphael Mengs 1728 - 1779
Descent of the Holy Spirit 1751
Oil on canvas 46 x 25,5 cm
Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

Mengs, a Classical artist, was strongly influenced by the ideas of the German scholar of the Ancient World, Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717-1768).

He was the leading German painter in the second half of the 18th century and exceptionally popular across Europe.

Mengs, one of the creators of Neo-Classicism, called upon the artists of Europe to return to "the simplicity and nobility of beautiful antiquity".

Daniel Webb in Inquiry into the Beauties of Painting (1760) attempted to summarise Mengs` theory of beauty thus:

"Beauty was the perfect expression of an idea, since art was above nature. The ultimate aim of painting lay, therefore, in selecting beautiful subjects found in nature, purified of all imperfection."