Cignani, Carlo

, an eminent artist, was born at Bologna (some say at Rome) in 1628, and was taught his ait by Giovanni Battista Cairo Casalasco; and afterwards became the disciple of Albano, in whose school he appeared with promising and superior talents, but although these, while he studied with Albano, were exceedingly admired, yet, to improve himself still farther in correctness of design, and also in the force and relief of his figures, he studied Raphael, Annibale Caracci, Caravaggio, Correggio, and Guido; and combined something of each in a manner of his own. He is accounted very happy in his taste of composition, and excellent in the disposition of his figures; but a judicious writer says, that he was censured for bestowing too much labour on the finishing of his pictures, which considerably diminished their spirit; and also for affecting too great a strength of colouring, so as to give his figures too much relief, and make them appear as if not united with their grounds. However well or ill-founded these observations may be, yet through all Europe he is deservedly admired for the force and delicacy of his pencil, for the great correctness of his design, for a distinguished elegance in his compositions, and also for the mellowness which he gave to his colours. The draperies of his figures are in general easy and free; his expression of the passions is judicious and natural; and there appears a remarkable grace in every one of his figures.

The cardinal San Csesareo passing through Forli, where Cignani at that time resided with his family, desired to have one of his paintings; and Carlo shewed him a picture of Adam and Eve, which he had painted for his own use, intending to have kept it by him. On viewing that performance, the cardinal was so pleased that he gave him five hundred pistoles, and politely told Carlo, that he only paid him for the canvas, and accepted the painting as a present. In the Palazzo Zambeccari, at Bologna, is a Sampson by Cignani, in a noble and grand style; in the superb collection of the duke of Devonshire, there is a picture of Joseph disengaging himself from the immodesty of his Mistress; and one of the same subject is in the Palazzo Arnaldi, at Florence. Sir Robert Strange, who had two pictures by Cignani, “Bacchanalian Boys,” and “Madona with the child and St. John,” speaks highly of his talents; but there was in the Dusseidorp gallery, when sir | Joshua Reynolds visited it, an immense picture of the Ascension of the Virgin, which sir Joshua thought heavy, and in no point excellent. Cignani died at Forli, 1719, in his ninety-first year. 1

1 Pilkington.- D’Argenville, vol. II. Burges’s Lives of Painters. Reynolds’s Works.