Marchi, Giuseppe Filippo Liberati (DNB00)

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MARCHI, GIUSEPPE FILIPPO LIBERATI (1735?–1808), painter and engraver, was born in the Trastevere quarter of Rome, and there, when at the age of fifteen, came under the notice of Sir Joshua Reynolds, whom he accompanied to England in 1752. He studied in the St. Martin's Lane Academy, and became Reynolds's most trusted assistant, being employed to set his palette, paint his draperies, make copies, and sit for attitudes. The first picture painted by Reynolds when he settled in London was a portrait of young Marchi in a turban, which was much admired at the time, and engraved by J. Spilsbury in 1761; it is now the property of the Royal Academy. Marchi did not reside with Reynolds until 1764, when the following entry occurs in one of the latter's diaries: 'Nov. 22, 1764. Agreed with Giuseppe Marchi that he should live in my house and paint for me for one half-year from this day, I agreeing to give him fifty pounds for the same.' Marchi took up mezzotint engraving, and from 1766 to 1775 exhibited engravings, as well as an occasional picture with the Society of Artists, of which he was a member. His plates, which, though not numerous, are of excellent quality, include portraits of Miss Oliver (1767), Miss Cholmondeley (1768), Mrs. Bouverie and Mrs. Crewe (1770), Oliver Goldsmith (1770), Mrs. Hartley (1773), and George Colman (1773), all after Reynolds, and that of Princess Czartoriska (1777), from a picture by himself. Marchi was a clever copyist, but did not succeed in original portraiture; he tried at one time to establish himself at Swansea, but soon returned to the service of Sir Joshua, with whom he remained until the painter's death. Subsequently he was much employed in cleaning and restoring paintings by Reynolds work for which his intimate knowledge of the artist's technical methods well qualified him. Marchi died in London on 2 April 1808, aged 73.

[Gent. Mag. 1808, i. 372; Northcote's Memoir of Sir J. Reynolds, 1813; Leslie and Taylor's Life and Times of Sir J. Reynolds, 1865; J. Chaloner Smith's British Mezzotinto Portraits; Society of Artists' Catalogues.]

F. M. O'D.