Pietro Annigoni

Pietro Annigoni

Italian artist
Date of Birth: 07.06.1910
Country: Italy

  1. Biography of Pietro Annigoni
  2. Early Life and Education
  3. Marriage and Family
  4. Career and Artistic Style
  5. Legacy

Biography of Pietro Annigoni

Pietro Annigoni, an Italian artist known for his portraits and frescoes, gained worldwide fame after painting Queen Elizabeth II in 1956. Regarded as a Renaissance-inspired artist, Annigoni was seen as a rebel against the destructive force of modernism in the mid-20th century art world.

Pietro Annigoni

Early Life and Education

Pietro Annigoni was born on June 7, 1910, in Milan, Italy. He spent most of his early years in Florence, where he attended the College of the Piarist Fathers. In 1927, he was admitted to the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence, where he studied painting under Felice Carena, sculpture under Giuseppe Graziosi, and art engraving under Celestino Celestini. Annigoni began exhibiting his works in Florence in the 1930s, and his first solo exhibition took place in 1932 at the Bellini Gallery. In the same year, he won the prestigious Trentacoste Prize.

Marriage and Family

In 1937, Pietro Annigoni married Anna Giuseppa Maggini, who later passed away in July 1969, leaving him a widower. The couple had two children, Benedetto and Maria Ricciarda.

Career and Artistic Style

The period from 1945 to 1950 was significant in Annigoni's career. In 1947, he signed the Manifesto of Modern Realist Painters along with six other artists, openly opposing abstract art and other contemporary movements of the time. Annigoni expressed his opinion on the avant-garde, stating, "I am convinced that today's avant-garde works are the poisoned fruits of spiritual decline, with all its consequences that arise in connection with the tragic death of the love for life."

In March 1949, the Royal Academy in England accepted several of Annigoni's works for its annual exhibition. This marked his first experience with England and the beginning of the international success that would follow. Annigoni's artwork focused on Italian Renaissance portraiture, standing in contrast to the dominant modernist and postmodernist artistic styles of the mid-20th century. He became renowned worldwide in 1956 after creating a romantic portrait of young Queen Elizabeth II. He is also known for his portraits of Pope John XXIII, U.S. presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, Princess Margaret, and other members of the British royal family.


Although Pietro Annigoni gained recognition as a "painter of royalty," he always painted those who genuinely interested him. He remained a "people's artist" throughout his life, maintaining friendly relationships with ordinary individuals and remaining unimpressed by pomp and grandeur. Continuing to paint people from all over the world, Annigoni created portraits of Salvatore Ferragamo, Luigi Ugolini, Margot Fonteyn, Vanna Bonta, and Maharani Gayatri Devi of Jaipur. In May 1988, Annigoni underwent emergency surgery for a perforated ulcer but never fully recovered. He was admitted to a hospital in Florence on October 27 of the same year and passed away the next day due to renal failure.

Annigoni once shared, "The emotional states felt by a painter or another creative individual irresistibly compel the expression of the most intimate states of mind and soul, from which, perhaps, the spark of revelation is struck. It kindles a light that shows things in their depth, universality, and possibly eternal reality. It is a light that we are entitled to call the light of poetry."