Francesco Algarotti

Posted on October 17, 2010


Philosopher and critic Francesco Algarotti was famous for introducing the essay form of writing to Italy in the 18th century, while at the same time opening up the rest of Europe to the art and culture of Italy. Born in 1712 in Venice, Algarotti wrote about art, architecture, opera, language and Horace, as well as on Newtonian optics, Russian politics. He also commissioned art for August of Saxony from artists including Boucher and Tiepolo.

Algarotti was described as being a beautiful man, and was involved in a complicated love triangle with the British Lord Hervey and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. Aside from his relationship with Lord Hervey, Algarotti was involved with Frederick the Great of Prussia, who made him a Prussian count and built a monument to him after his death. Algarotti was also friends with Voltaire, who in a letter quite baldly refers to “tender Algoretti strongly hugging handsome [Marquis de] Lugeac, his young friend, I seem to see Socrates reinvigorated on Alcibiades’ back.” (Alcibiades was frequently associated with homosexuality.)

Francesco Algarotti died in Italy in 1764 at the age of 51.

He has a wikipedia page, here.