(b Aussig, Bohemia [now Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic], 12 Mar. 1728; d Rome, 29 June 1779). German painter, the son of a court painter in Dresden, Ismael Mengs (1688–1764). His father brought him up with harsh severity to be a great painter, on the models particularly of Correggio and Raphael (from whom he gained his Christian names). In 1740 he was taken to Rome and there established a reputation as a youthful prodigy. He returned to Germany in 1744 and in the next few years achieved success as a portraitist in Dresden. In 1748–9 he made another visit to Rome, during which he married an Italian girl, and in 1752 he settled in the city, becoming a close friend of Winckelmann, who provided much of the theoretical inspiration for his work.

Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)

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