Schiavonetti, Luigi (DNB00)

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SCHIAVONETTI, LUIGI (1765–1810), line-engraver, was born at Bassano in Italy on 1 April 1765. His father was a stationer, but Luigi, having from his infancy shown a talent for drawing, was at the age of thirteen placed under the tuition of Giulio Golini, with whom he remained three years. He then turned his attention to engraving, and made the acquaintance of an architectural engraver named Testolini, for whom he executed some plates in imitation of the work of Bartolozzi, which Testolini passed off as his own work. The latter was then invited to visit England, and in 1790 he induced Schiavonetti to join him here, with the result that Testolini's fraud was discovered, and Schiavonetti was received by Bartolozzi into his house, and for a time assisted him in his work. Afterwards Schiavonetti, who had improved greatly by his friend's instruction and advice, began to practise his art on his own account, and was very successful in the production of many plates, several of which were in the dotted style of Bartolozzi. He possessed in a remarkable degree a power of delineation, combined with great freedom of execution. Among his most important works are the ‘Mater Dolorosa,’ after Vandyck, and a portrait of that painter in the character of Paris; the ‘Surprise of the Soldiers on the Banks of the Arno,’ from the cartoon of Michael Angelo at Pisa; a portrait of Berchem, after Rembrandt; the ‘Marriage at Cana,’ after Pellegrini; four plates of events in the life of Louis XVI, king of France, after Charles Benazech; the ‘Landing of the British Troops in Egypt,’ after P. J. de Loutherbourg, R.A.; the ‘Death of Tippoo Sahib,’ after Henry Singleton, R.A.; the ‘Death of General Wolfe,’ from a gem engraved by Marchant, in the original privately printed edition of the ‘Museum Worsleyanum;’ and the ‘Canterbury Pilgrims,’ after Thomas Stothard, R.A., of which he had completed the etching and principal figures only at the time of his death, and which was finished by James Heath, A.R.A. He also etched from the designs of William Blake a series of illustrations to Blair's poem ‘The Grave,’ published in 1808, to which was prefixed his fine portrait of Blake from Thomas Phillips's picture now in the National Portrait Gallery. There are also plates by him in Ottley's ‘Italian School of Design,’ in Chamberlaine's ‘Original Designs of the most celebrated Masters of the Bolognese, Roman, Florentine, and Venetian Schools,’ and in the ‘Specimens of Antient Sculpture’ published by the Dilettanti Society. Schiavonetti died in Brompton, London, on 7 June 1810, and was buried in Paddington churchyard.

Niccolò Schiavonetti (1771–1813), his younger brother, who was a native of Bassano and an engraver, came to England with him in 1790, and worked chiefly in conjunction with him. He assisted in the plate of the ‘Canterbury Pilgrims.’

[Gent. Mag. (notice by R. H. Cromek) 1810, i. 598, 662–5; Redgrave's Dictionary of Artists of the English School, 1878; Bryan's Dictionary of Painters and Engravers, ed. Graves and Armstrong, 1886–9, ii. 466.]

R. E. G.