The Work and Life of Pietro Annigoni

Pietro Annigoni, the Italian portrait and fresco painter of the 20th century, crafted paintings of Queen Elizabeth the second and became a well-known in the world of arts. He blended the modernist era with hues of the Renaissance tradition to define a specific style that was distinctively prevalent during his time.

Raised in The Renaissance

Pietro Annigoni was born and raised in Milan and like few of the artist back in his time. He lived most of his college life in Florence in the Tuscany region of Italy, which became the home to many classical masterpieces of Renaissance art. He entered the Academy of Fine Arts in 1927 and enrolled right away in painting and sculpture courses from Felice Carena and Giuseppe Graziosi respectively. He later enrolled in nude-art classes in the same academy. He fathered two children, Benedetto and Maria Ricciarda from his first wife Anna Giuseppa Maggini who passed away 1969 from illness and later married his favorite muse, Rosella Segreto.

Breaking Through to The Limelight

His first individual art exhibit was in 1932 in the Bellini Gallery of Palazzo Ferron. Toward the mid-20th century, he won the Trentacoste prize after being featured in Corriere Della Sera’s art section. Annigoni’s international breakthrough came in the 1950s, after being accepted by the Royal Academy of England to exhibit his work on their annual exhibitions. Then he went on to France for a unique show in Paris in 1953, and by 1969 his work was on display at the Brooklyn Museum, New York.  After being deeply influenced by the Italian Renaissance, he fashioned all his art in a way in which it demarcates a contrast with modernist and post-modernist artistic styles. He painted a couple of portraits of Queen Elizabeth II. His second portrait was commissioned for public display at the National Portrait Gallery.

Notable Works

Annigoni is famous for painting portraits of many prominent figures around the world like Prince Philip and several others. 

  • He painted Pope John XXII, US President John F Kennedy, and Princess Margaret – The only sister of Queen Elizabeth II. He faced criticism from people who overlooked his dramatic renaissance signature and claimed that this work was inclined more on the representational aspect.
  • One of the most controversial points of to his work came in 1947 when he engaged with six other painters to sign the manifesto Modern Realist Painters. They stood up to oppose abstract art movements that were taking hold of Italy during the time. His involvement became a vital aspect of reference to him in literature.
  • In Florence, he continued painting church frescoes, and at the age of 70 he ended up completing his largest fresco of all time in the dome of Monte Cassino monastery. The success of his work was recognized in the year 1959 when he was elected as a corresponding Honorary member to the National Academy of Design.
  • He created the Cavaliere di Gran Croce Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana in 75’ and more recently in 2010 he commissioned a stamp by the Italian Post office.