Cipriani, John Baptist

, an eminent artist, claimed by the English school, from England being so long the theatre of his art, was born at Pistoia, about the year 1727. He received his first instructions from an English artist of the name of Heckford (who had settled in that city), and afterwards went under the tuition of Gabbiani, by the study of whose works he became a vigorous designer. Italy possesses few of his pictures, but Lanzi mentions two, painted for the abbey of St. Michele, in Pelago, in the neighbourhood of Pistoia; the one of St. Tesauro, the other of Gregory VII. In 1750 he went to Rome, where he had much employment, but chiefly in drawing; and in August 1755 came to England with Mr. Wilton and sir William Chambers, who were then returning from the continent. His reputation having preceded him, he was patronized by lord Tilney, and the late duke of Richmond, and other noblemen. When, in 1758, the duke of Richmond opened the gallery at his house in Privy- garden as a school of art, Wilton and Cipriani were appointed to visit the students the former giving them instructions in sculpture, and the latter in painting; but this scheme was soon discontinued. At the foundation of the Royal Academy, Cipriani was chosen one of the founders, and was also employed to make the design for the diploma, which is given to the academicians and associates at their admission. For this work, which he executed with great taste and elegance, the president and council presented him with a silver cup, “as an acknowledgment for the assistance the academy received from his great abilities in his profession.” The original drawing of this diploma was purchased at the marquis of Lansdowne’s sale of pictures, drawings, &c. in 1806 for thirty-one guineas by Mr. G. Baker.

Among other avocations, he was employed to clean and repair the pictures of Rubens, in the ceiling of Whitehall | chapel, which he completed with great success in 1778. He had before repaired the paintings of Verrio at Windsor, assisted by Mr. Ricnards; and there is a ceiling at Buckingham house, in the antique style, the compartments of which he painted. We may also notice a room, decorated with poetical subjects, in the house of the late sir William Young at Standlynch in Wiltshire. Some of the few pictures he left are at the seat of Mr. Coke, at Holkham, and four are in the ceiling in the library of the Royal Academy. But his greatest excellence was in his drawings, where Mr. Fuseli says, the fertility of his invention, the graces of his composition, and the seductive elegance of his forms, were only surpassed by the probity of his character, the simplicity of his manners, and the benevolence of his heart. These designs were disseminated over all Europe by the graver of Francis Bartolozzi and his pupils, and bought up with avidity. He died Dec. 14, 1785, and was buried in the cemetery at Chelsea, adjoining the King’s road. He left two sons. 1

1 Echrards’s Supplement to Walfcolp. Pilkingtojt.