Signed and dated, Brenna Février 1810.


Height: 30" (76 cm); Width: 22 1/2" (57 cm).

Ink, wash and gouache on paper laid onto board.

Italian architect and draughtsman Vincenzo Brenna (1747-1820), who was born in Florence to a family of stonemasons and later trained in Rome, is known predominantly for a series of architectural and interior decorative programs he produced in Poland and Russia, which played an important “role in the diffusion of international neoclassicism in Eastern Europe.”1

While studying in Rome, Brenna made his living “through the production of highly finished drawings of frescoes and monuments for the Grand Tour market.” The first mentions of the artist appear in the late 1768 when he was enlisted by English antiquary and collector Charles Townley (1737-1805) to act as a draughtsman and art agent. Brenna brokered the purchase of artworks and antiquities for his patron, and made measured drawings of classical monuments seen on their travels throughout Italy, even creating models out of pumice stone and cork.2

Brenna’s employment by Townley came to an end toward the end of the 1770s, around which time he met Count Stanislas Potocki of Poland. Potocki brought Brenna back to Poland to decorate his own palace, to build a church in Ujadzdow and to paint frescoes for the Polish king in Warsaw.3 He returned again to Rome in 1781, where he met Grand Duke Paul, future emperor of Russia, and his wife Maria Feodorovna while they were on their Grand Tour. The Grand Duke engaged Brenna as a decorative painter for Pavlovsk Palace, which was “then being built to the designs of [Charles] Cameron.”4 Shortly thereafter, however, Cameron fell out of favor with the Grand Duke and Brenna succeeded him as leading architect.

Full research report available on request.

Full research report available on request.