Giovanni Domenico Campiglia (Lucca, 1692 – Rome, 1775) was an Italian painter and engraver of the rococo period from Florence, active under the patronage of the House of Medici. Giovanni Domenico Campiglia was a famous painter, even more famous engraver of the Tuscan eighteenth century.
He initially trained under Tommaso Redi and Lorenzo del Moro, then in Bologna under Giovanni Gioseffo dal Sole. During his career, Campiglia was employed at Rome and Florence, painting and engraving historical subjects and portraits. Campiglia worked with Antonio Francesco Gori for over a decade on the Museum Florentium, a collection of images of all the famous artists of Florence. Campiglia’s contributions were published in 1734, which induced Pope Clement XII to bring him to Rome. There he worked with historian Giovanni Gaetano Bottari in engravings for his multi-volume Musei Capitolini. His highly finished drawings of antique and famous statues of Rome were highly prized by tourists.
He began his studies in Florence at Tommaso Redi, one of the luckiest and most sought after painters who worked for the latest Doctors. But another of his masters was the quadraturist Lorenzo del Moro, from whom he learned the art of architectural backgrounds that will serve him much in his engraving work. He also distinguished himself in Bologna where he worked with John Gioseffo from the Sun, a city where, as Gori Gandellini tells us in his news of carpenters with critical observations: “… he painted a lot …”. We know in fact a canvas for an altar in the Church of Saint John of the Scolopi.
Among the commissioners of his engravings the most important was perhaps the scholar Anton Francesco Gori who requested his work to illustrate in 1734 his volume Museum Florentinum with engravings that reproduced the masterpieces of the great Florentine painters of the past. Campiglia showed a great deal of mastery in translating these great works as much as Pope Clement XII wanted him in Rome, where the scholar John Gaetano Bottari had begun his work on the Capitoline Museums. Bottari himself praises the painter in the introduction to the third volume of this great work:
“Besides being drawn from very original originals, they are designed and carved in wonder, and ultimate perfection, even more than the other two …”
(G. Bottari, Capitoline Museum, Volume III, Introduction)
Also famous for his portraits of his contemporary painters collected in the volume Collection of 324 portraits of excellent artists published between 1790 and 1796.
Reproductions of ancient statues at Roman museums were highly sought after by foreign travelers, particularly English, and therefore very widespread in Europe.
Giovanni Domenico Campiglia, in his poem The pictorial history of Italy speaks more of his work of engraving, but also of painter, giving us no indication of his works, except for a self-portrait that is located in the same hall of the Gallery Of the Uffizi. While Antonio Nibby remembers his canvas with the Portrait of Rubens in the Galleria Corsini in Rome and Father Richa, in his Historical News of the Florentine Church he attributes a canvas to St. Nicholas of Bari in the church of San Giovanni degli Scolopi.
“… he was counted amongst Rome’s primary designers, especially for ancient things … in painting he did not miss, and in Florence, where he brought some tables, you saw among good painters …”
(Luigi Lanzi, Pittorical History of Italy: from the Renaissance of Fine Arts up to the end of the eighteenth century)
He had many collaborators for the engravings; Antonio Pietro Pazzi was certainly the most assiduous, with whom he painted portraits of painters.