In the early 1750s, Mengs again left for Rome. About 1755, he became a close friend of the German archaeologist and art critic J. J. Winckelmann, the author of the famous A History of Ancient Art (1764). Mengs came to share Winckelmann's enthusiasm for classical antiquity, and worked to establish the dominance of Neoclassical painting. At the same time the influence of the Roman Baroque remained strong, particularly in his religious paintings.
In Italy Mengs was commissioned to paint a series of portraits for Augustus
III’s son-in-law, Charles VII, King of Naples. In October 1759, Charles
VII inherited the Spanish Crown as Charles III
and, as his court painter, Mengs spent several years (1761-1769) in Madrid,
painting decorations in the Royal Palace and portraying the important persons
belonging to the court.
From 1769 to 1772, Mengs worked in Rome, decorating the Camera dei Papiri in the Vatican, and he returned to Spain from 1773 to 1777.
Mengs was widely regarded in his day as Europe's greatest living painter. Although he died at the early age of fifty (1779) he had a profound influence not only on his native contemporaries but also on Roman, French and Spanish artists. Mengs's treatise Reflections on Beauty and Taste in Painting (1762) was also influential in his day.
Artist died in Rome in 1779.
German and Austrian Paintings. XV-XVIII centuries. by N. Nikulin. Leningrad. 1989.
Painting of Europe. XIII-XX centuries. Encyclopedic Dictionary. Moscow. Iskusstvo. 1999.