By Maggie Bell

The painter and architect Ferdinando Galli-Bibiena was born in Bologna on 18 August 1657.  His father, Giovanni Maria Galli-Bibiena (b. 1625), was an artist who studied under Francesco Albani. Ferdinando studied architecture under Giulio Trogli and painting under Carlo Cignani, who recognized his precocious ability for stage design.  

In the 1680s, on Cignani’s recommendation, Ferdinando entered into the service of Ranuccio II Farnese, 6th Duke of Parma and Piacenza as his chief painter and architect, charged with designing stage sets for large celebrations and court spectacles.  Ferdinando worked in the ducal courts of Parma for thirty years, though in 1708 was summoned to Barcelona to create the wedding decorations for the marriage of the Archduke Charles of Austria.  In 1711 Ferdinando wrote his treatise on architecture L’architettura civile, in which he described the Bolognese innovation in theatrical design known as scene vedute in angolo, in which backdrops and settings are designed according to the rules of perspective

Further Reading

“Galli-Bibiena.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press, accessed August 17, 2017,

Giuseppe Antonio Caccioli, Portrait of Ferdinando Galli Bibiena, frontispiece from his Varie Opere Prospettiva, 1707, etching, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Ferdinando Galli-Bibiena (1657-1743), Theatrical setting, gray pen and brush over pencil and leadpoint, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Ferdinando Galli-Bibiena (1657-1743), Theatrical setting, pen and wash, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Fernando Galli-Bibiena, Design for a Stage Set, late 17th/early 18th Century, Pen and brown ink and ink wash with blue and yellow washes over traces of graphite pencil on buff laid paper, The Detroit Institute of Arts

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