FRANCESCO LONDONIO (Milan 1723 – 1783 Milan)

Francesco Londonio

Francesco Londonio (Milan 1723 – 1783 Milan)

Studies of Goats and Sheep

Black chalk, 189 x 184 mm (7.4 x 7.2 inch); historically laid down onto a sheet of backing paper with watermark FcoB

Inscribed ‘Del Londonio’ in an 18th- or 19th-century hand (pen and brown ink, on verso of backing sheet)

~ Private collection, Germany
~ Private collection, USA


Born in Milan in the parish of S. Alessandro in Zebedia, Francesco Londonio studied with Ferdinando Porta.1 Londonio accompanied his teacher to Parma, where the works of Correggio made a deep impression. Although Londonio was trained as a painter of scenes of mythology and history, he soon specialised in pastoral scenes, in which animals and peasants played prominent roles. He was strongly influenced by Dutch artists, who had pioneered the pastoral genre, for instance Nicolaes Berchem, Adriaen van de Velde and Paulus Potter, whose works were known in Italy through reproductive prints. Among Italian painters, Rosa da Tivoli and Giacomo Ceruti were influential.

Londonio’s earliest known pastoral works originated in the mid-1750s: a drawing of a bull and a cow at rest in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana is dated 1753,2 and a painting of a cattle market of 1756 is in a private collection.3 In 1758-59 the artist also published his first series of etchings – the technique was taught to Londonio by Benigno Bossi. Londonio was active in Rome in 1763, and in Naples and its environs in 1763-64.

A group of 61 paintings by Londonio is preserved in the Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan, donated by his grandson Carlo Londonio in 1836. The Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan furthermore holds some 250 drawings and oil sketches by the artist, including a comparable oil sketch with studies of goats’ heads (fig.).4 Studies such as our brilliantly observed drawing and the Ambrosiana oil were generally made from life, and kept in the artist’s studio as part of a visual repertoire of motifs to be used in finished works.


1. For the artist, see S. Coppa and C. Geddo (eds.), Brera mai vista. Tra Arcadia e Illuminismo in Lombardia: la raccolta di studi di Francesco Londonio, Milan 2002; the catalogue raisonné of the artist’s engravings was compiled by M. Scola, Catalogo ragionato delle incisioni di Francesco Londonio, Milan 1994.
2. Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan, F. 267 inf., no. 28.
3. L. Böhm, 'Pittori milanesi del Settecento: Francesco Londonio', Rivista d'arte, XVI (1934), p. 236, fig. 3.
4. Oil on card, 300 x 400 mm; Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan.