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Pietro Annigoni

Pietro Annigoni
Pietro Annigoni, Self portrait
Born June 7, 1910
Milan, Italy
Died October 28, 1988(1988-10-28) (aged 78)
Florence, Italy
Nationality Italian
Education Accademia di Belle Arti
Florence, Italy
Known for Fresco, oil painting, portrait painting, drawing, sculpture
Movement Realism (visual arts)
Awards Cavaliere di Gran Croce OMRI

Pietro Annigoni (7 June 1910 – 28 October 1988) was an Italian portrait and fresco painter, who became world famous after painting Queen Elizabeth II in 1956.


  • Life 1
    • Family 1.1
    • Death 1.2
  • Controversy in tradition 2
  • Art exhibitions 3
  • World acclaim 4
  • Church frescoes 5
  • Honors 6
  • Museums 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


Born in Milan in 1910, Annigoni was a painter who was influenced by the Italian Renaissance.

From the end of the 1920s on, he lived mainly in Florence where he studied at the College of the Piarist Fathers.

In 1927, he was admitted to the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence, where he attended the courses given by Felice Carena in painting, Giuseppe Graziosi in sculpture, and Celestino Celestini in etching. Annigoni enrolled in the nude class run by the Florentine Circolo degli Artisti, while attending the open class in the same subject at the Academy.

Annigoni exhibited his work for the first time in Florence in 1930 with a group of painters. He had his first individual exhibition two years later, in 1932 at the Bellini Gallery in the Palazzo Ferroni.

In 1932, journalist Ugo Ojetti featured Annigoni in the Arts section of the Corriere della Sera. Also in 1932, he won the Trentacoste prize.


Annigoni was married to Anna Giuseppa Maggini in 1937 until her death of illness in July 1969. They had two children, Benedetto (1939) and Maria Ricciarda. In 1976 he married Rosella Segreto, also a favorite model of the artist.[1]


In May 1988, Annigoni had emergency surgery due to a perforated ulcer, and he did not recover fully from the ailment. He was rushed to the hospital in Florence on October 27, 1988, and died of kidney failure on October 28, 1988.[1] He is buried in the Porte Sante (Holy Doors) cemetery at the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte, overlooking his beloved Florence.

Controversy in tradition

Between 1945 to 1950, Annigoni produced a succession of important and very successful works. In 1947, he signed the manifesto of Modern Realist Painters. In this manifesto the group, which consisted of seven painters, came out in open opposition to abstract art and the various movements that had sprung up in Italy in these years. It was an insignificant detail in the painter's life but it would become a key points of reference in literature about him. Among others who signed the petition were Gregory Sciltian, and brothers Antonio and Xavier Bueno.

In March 1949, the Committee of the Royal Academy in England accepted the works Annigoni offered for its annual exhibition. It was the artist's first experience with England and the beginning of a success which was to acquire worldwide dimensions.[2]

Art exhibitions

Annigoni started showing his work internationally in the 1950s. In London, England, they were held at Wildenstein's (1950 and 1954), Agnew's (1952 and 1956), the Federation of British Artists (1961), the Upper Grosvenor Galleries (1966), and at many Royal Academy exhibitions. A special exhibition in Paris, France at the Galerie Beaux Arts was held in 1953. New York Wildenstein's showed Annigoni from 1957-58. By 1969, Annigoni's work was exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum in New York. Numerous Italian cities that showed Annigoni works during his life included Turin, Rome, Florence, Verona, Brescia, Montecatini Terme, Pisa, Bergamo, Rovereto and Milan.[3]

World acclaim

His work bore the influence of Italian Renaissance portraiture, and was in contrast to the modernist and post-modernist artistic styles that dominated the middle and late twentieth century. He was known for his romantic portrayal of the young Queen Elizabeth II in 1956 (kept in Fishmongers Hall, London, not accessible to the public), as well as for his portraits of Pope John XXIII, US Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, the Shah and Empress of Iran, Princess Margaret[4] and several other members of the British royal family.[1] He painted the Queen again in 1969 (National Portrait Gallery, London).

Pietro Annigoni was chosen by TIME magazine to paint President of the United States John F. Kennedy for the (January 5) 1962 Person of the Year cover.[5] The result was perhaps his worst portrait as Kennedy would not sit still and Annigoni had no time or inclination to satisfy Time magazine. Other TIME magazine covers that featured portraits by Annigoni were the issues of October 5, 1962 (Pope John XXIII), November 1, 1963 (Ludwig Erhard), and April 12, 1968 (Lyndon B. Johnson).

Other subjects around the world that Annigoni painted include HRH Prince Phillip and several other members of the House of Windsor as well as the shoemaker Salvatore Ferragamo, Florentine author Luigi Ugolini, ballet legend Dame Margot Fonteyn, British actress Julie Andrews, Russian ballet star Rudolf Nureyev, and the Maharani Gayatri Devi of Jaipur. An outspoken artist who did not refrain from iconoclasm toward his perception of passing or superficial social trends, Annigoni wrote essays challenging modern art that disregarded the basic ability to draw. He alienated critics, who claimed his art was too representational, discounting the unique dramatic signature the artist brought to Renaissance tradition.[6]

Church frescoes

Vittorio Miele (left) and Pietro Annigoni (right), in Monte Cassino

Annigoni gave much time in his life to painting church frescoes in and around his Florence.[7] It was at the Monte Cassino monastery south of Rome, that he worked on his largest fresco work of art, the dome of the monastery in 1980 at the age of 70 and took five years to complete it.[1]


In 1959, Annigoni was elected to the National Academy of Design as an Honorary Corresponding member.

On 14 November 1975 Annigoni was conferred the Cavaliere di Gran Croce Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana (OMRI)[8]

Lo Studium, Accademia di Casale e del Monferrato per l’Arte, la Letteratura, la Storia, le Scienze e le Varie Umanità

In October 2010, the Italian Post Office issued a stamp commemorating the centennial of Pietro Annigoni's birth.[9][10]


Annigoni works are housed in museums worldwide. Museo Annigoni, a museum in Florence, Italy, houses sixty years of the master's work.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "Pietro Annigoni, 78, Dies in Italy; Noted for Portrait of Elizabeth II". New York Times. 1988-10-30. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  2. ^ Annigoni: Italy's Most Misunderstood Artist 2009-26-11
  3. ^ Pietro Annigoni Cronologia Chronology Annigoni Works and Exhibitions
  4. ^ Pietro Annigoni: Princess Margaret National portrait gallery
  5. ^ "TIME magazine cover archive". Retrieved 2012-03-17. 
  6. ^ Pietro Annigoni, Italy's greatest misunderstood artist by Brenda Dionisi; (issue no. 99/2009 / April 9, 2009)
  7. ^ Annigoni: The Basilica of St. Anthony Frescoes
  8. ^
  9. ^ paknetmag (2010-10-30). "Centennial of the birth of Pietro Annigoni - new Italian stamp". Retrieved 2012-03-17. 
  10. ^ Un francobollo per ricordare il pittore Annigoni Il Reporter, 22 October 2010; by Giulia Zocchi
  11. ^ Museo Annigoni on YouTube
  12. ^
  13. ^ "State museums of Florence: Annigoni". 2011-09-22. Retrieved 2012-03-17. 
  14. ^ "IMA: Annigoni". Retrieved 2012-03-17. 
  15. ^ "UK government art collection". Retrieved 2012-03-17. 
  16. ^ "National portrait gallery". 1994-10-23. Retrieved 2012-03-17. 

External links

  • Official site
  • Annigoni: Portrait of an Artist - Award winning film on the life and times of Pietro Annigoni.
  • Annigoni movie listing IMDB
  • Annigoni: Portrait of an Artist movie, listed in Richard Crouse's new book ISBN 1550225901
  • Stefano Burbi: Suite dalle musiche per il film Annigoni on YouTube
  • Annigoni Gallery from the Gandy Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Pietro Annigoni Gallery at MuseumSyndicate
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