Francesco Monti (Il Brescianino)

Skirmish between Turks and Christians
Italian, (1646–1703)
Oil on canvas
Literature: I Pittori di Battaglie. Maestri Italiani e Stranieri del XVII e XVIII Secolo by Giancarlo Sestieri, 1991, p. 206

Francesco Monti was born in Brescia, Italy in 1646. He studied under Pietro Ricchi (il Lucchese) and Jaqcues Courtois (Il Borgognone delle Battaglie) who was known for his battle scenes and had a huge influence on his work. Monti began specialising in paintings of battles and earned the distinguished name of Il Brescianino delle Battaglie. One of his sons, Giuseppe Monti, was also an artist and painted battle scenes.

He travelled to Genoa, Naples, Rome and Venice and was influenced by the works of Johann Elismann (1604-1698), Brisighello (1679-1750) and Salvator Rosa (1615-1673). In 1670 he went to Piacenza where he started working for the Farnese court there and in Parma, eventually securing full time patronage of the Duke from 1681 until 1695. He settled in Parma and opened a studio and taught art to Giovanni Canti, Ilario Spolverini, Angiolo Everardi known as Fiamminghino and Lorenzo Comendich.

After leaving the Parma court he continued to receive patronage from the nobility including a commission from Prince Meli Lupi of Soragna in 1701 for six paintings which are still found in the collection today.

In addition to battle scenes, he also painted mythological works and religious scenes. One of his paintings ‘The Blessed Virgin in Adoration of Christ in the Manger’ was commissioned for the church of Santa Maria Calcherà in Parma. Monti’s paintings were usually on a large scale, often depicting cavalry skirmishes at the height of the combat, with all its drama, chaos and unfolding tragedy. His canvasses come alive with rearing horses, dust columns and the glint of armour and sword.

Monti died, probably in Piacenza, in 1703. Examples of his work can be found in public and private collections including the Palazzo Farnese Museum, Piacenza, Met Museum, New York and the Vicenza Museum.

The painting is housed in a new, ebonised & gilt frame which is in excellent condition.