By Jennifer D. Webb

Pietro Annigoni died on October 28, 1988 in Florence. Born in Milan, Annigoni trained at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence. However, he is best known for his 1954-55 portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, which depicts the sovereign, life-sized, without a crown, and against a landscape background with a fisherman. The latter detail references the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers that commissioned the portrait.

Annigoni executed other official paintings of the British royal family, including of HRH Prince Philip and HRH Princess Margaret and a portrait of the Queen Mother, dressed in academic robes, for the University of London.  Annigoni also completed a dual portrait of the Shah of Iran and Empress Farah Diba commissioned by the Iranian Oil Company. He also painted, with no sittings, the image of President John F. Kennedy (1961) that appeared on the cover of Time Magazine. His portrait career earned the artist the title of the “new Renaissance painter.”

Annigoni was not just a portrait painter. He also worked on religious painting which he noted, “brought him more satisfaction and fulfillment” according to Dawn Cookson in Painting with Annigoni. (p.56) In a fresco, Vita (1957-60), the artist explores materialism by showing a martyr at the center of the composition, crucified beneath a Coca-Cola sign, and before a polluted urban landscape in the background.

References: Cookson, Dawn. Painting with Annigoni: A Halcyon Decade as a Student in Florence 1958-68 (2000); Core, Philip. “Annigoni, Pietro.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press.

Image: Self Portrait by Pietro Annigoni – 1946.

Video: Stephen Smith. Annigoni: Portrait of an Artist.

Further reading: Paul Moorhouse. The Queen: Art & Image. Manchester and New York: Hudson Hills Press, 2011; Pietro Annigoni. Pietro Annigoni: An Artist’s Life (An Autobiography). Allen, 1977.

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2 thoughts on “Pietro Annigoni died on October 28, 1988 in Florence.

  1. Hello…
    Do y0u have any information on Pietro Annigoni’s murals/frescoes at the Abbey of Montecassino, after its WWII destruction? His works there on the wall over the entry doors are a complex group setting of Saint Benedict-founder of the Abbey of Montecassino in 529 CE, and his personification of OBBEDIENZA (obbedience) one of St. Benedict’s rules, is very moving. Also do you know why he painted himself into the fresco/mural?

  2. Hi Liza! Thanks for your questions. At first glance, there is some information in the Cadogan Guide (Rome and Central Italy version) and also a monograph by Kristen R Rennie entitled, The Destruction and Recovery of Montecassino 529-1964. Hope this helps.

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