Albano, Francis

, a celebrated painter, born at Bologna, March 17, 1578. His father was a silk merchant, and intended to bring up his son to that business; but Albano having a strong inclination to painting, when his father died, devoted himself entirely to that art, though then but twelve years of age. He first studied under Denys Calvart; Guido Rheni being at the same tune under this master, with whom Albano contracted very great friendship. Calvart drew but one profile for Albano, and afterwards left him entirely to the care of Guido; under whom he made great improvement. He followed Guido to the school of the Caraccis, but a little after their friendship for each other began to cool; which was owing perhaps to the pride of Albano, who could not bear to see Guido surpass him, or to the jealousy of Guido at finding Albano make so swift a progress. They certainly endeavoured to eclipse one another; for when Guido had set up a beautiful altar-piece, Albano would oppose to it some fine picture of his: and yet they continued to speak of each other with the highest esteem. Albano, after having greatly improved himself under the Caraccis, went to Rome, where he continued many years, and married in that city; but his wife dying in childbed, at the earnest request of his relations, he returned to Bologna, where he entered again into the state of matrimony. His second wife (Doralice) was well descended, but had very little fortune; which he perfectly disregarded, so strongly was he captivated with her beauty and good sense. Besides the satisfaction of possessing an accomplished wife, he reaped likewise the advantage of having a most beautiful model; so that he had now no occasion for any other woman to sit to him for Venus, the Graces, Nymphs, and other deities, whom he took a particular delight in representing. His wife answered this purpose admirably well; for, besides her bloom of youth, and the beauty of her person, he discovered in her so much modesty, so many graces and perfections, so well adapted to painting, that it was impossible for him to find a more finished woman. She afterwards brought him several boys, all extremely beautiful and finely proportioned; and she and her children were the originals of his most agreeable and graceful compositions. It was from them too that the famous sculptors Flamand and Algardi modelled their little cupids.

Albano was well versed in some branches of polite | liteMature; but, not understanding Latin, he endeavoured to supply this defect by carefully perusing the Italian translations of such books as could be serviceable to him in his profession. He excelled in all parts of painting, but was particularly admired for his small pieces; though he himself was much dissatisfied that his large pieces, many of which he painted for altars, were not equally applauded. He delighted much in drawing the fair sex, whom he has represented with wonderful beauty; but has been reckoned not so happy in his imitation of men. He sometimes represented divine stories, but his compositions on love subjects were most eagerly sought after. “He did not,” says Malvasia, “feign Cupid heavy and sleeping, as Guido did, but represented him seated majestically on a throne; now directing the sportive exercises of the little Loves shooting at a heart fixed on a trunk of a tree; now presiding over their sprightly dances, round the marble monument of Flora crowned with a chaplet of blooming flowers; and now surveying the conquest of the little winged boys over the rural satyrs and fauns. If he represented a dead Adonis, he always introduced a band of loves, some of whom, viewing the wound, drew back in the utmost horror; while others, exasperated, broke to pieces their bows and arrows, as being no longer of use to them since Adonis was no more; and others, again, who, running behind the fierce wild boar, brandished their darts with an air of vengeance.” Albano was of a happy temper and disposition; his paintings, says the same author, breathing nothing but content and joy; happy in a force of mind that conquered every uneasiness, his poetical pencil carried him through the most agreeable gardens to Paphos and Cytherea: those delightful scenes brought him over the lofty Parnassus to the delicious abodes of Apollo and the Muses.

Our countryman, sir Robert Strange, gives this character of Albano’s paintings: “The pictures of Albano are exceedingly agreeable. His subjects are in general of the poetical kind. We may be almost sure of finding, in any picture of this master, beautiful figures of women; and children, who seem as if they had been nourished by the Graces. This artist, bred in the school of the Carracci, could not fail being an agreeable painter; and if he was not always successful in expressing the stronger passions of the soul, he knew how to touch and flatter the senses, | by offering to his spectators the most pleasing and delightful images; where reigns with decency, an agreeable, and if I may be allowed the expression, even a voluptuous pleasure. What contributes to render his works inestimable, is a pencil whose freshness of colour and delicacy of touch is admirable: but he may be reprehended with overfinishing many of his pictures.” This eminent artist engraved three of his pictures: “The Three Maries at the Sepulchre; A Holy Family, with Angels; and another Holy Family.Albani’s pictures of the “Four Elements,” formerly in the palace of the king of Sardinia, at Turin, and now in Paris, are of extraordinary beauty, and well preserved. The design is excellent, the draperies perfectly elegant, the colouring lovely, and the whole very correct. The composition is perhaps a little too dissipated, but that is a circumstance frequently observed in his works. His pictures were formerly in most of the palaces of Europe, but the greatest assemblage, we believe, is now at Paris. At Burghley house, are some fine tapestries from his designs; and there were probably some of his pictures in king Charles the First’s collection, as that prince once invited him to England.

Albano died Oct. 4, 1660, and left a brother, John Baptist Albano, who painted much in the style of his brother, but excelled principally in landscape. 1

1 Gen. Dict. D’Argenville. Pilkington’s Dictionary. Biog. Universelle. Strange’s Descriptive Catalogue. Mem. of Literature, vol. I. p. 250.