Francesco Galli Bibiena

Self portrait, now in the Uffizi in Florence
Section and ceiling of the original Teatro Filarmonico in Verona, ca. 1715-1720; drawing now in the Cooper–Hewitt, National Design Museum

Francesco Galli, called Francesco da Bibiena (or da Bibbiena), a member of the theatrical Galli de Bibiena family and younger brother of Ferdinando Galli, was born at Bologna in 1659. He first studied under Lorenzo Pasinelli; but he was afterwards instructed in the school of Carlo Cignani. His knowledge of architecture and perspective was considerable; but he excelled in figures. Francesco worked at Piacenza, Parma, and Rome, and then became ducal architect at Mantua. After a stay in Genoa and Naples he was called to Vienna, where he built a large theatre.[1] He worked successively for the Emperors Leopold I and Joseph I, and was invited to Madrid by Philip V, who appointed him his principal architect. He died in 1739.

Francesco was known for his theatrical achievements in scenic design. He was the first member of the Bibiena family to build theatres as well as to design sets. In 1700 he completely renovated the theatre in Hofburg, Vienna, for Emperor Leopold I.[2] The large theatre was known as the Große Komödiensaal ("Grand Hall of Comedies"), which later became the Court Theater (Burgtheater).[3] The opera house, however, burned down in 1747. The Hoftheater's architecture greatly influenced theatre design in Germany and Austria throughout the first half of the eighteenth century.[2] After a short stay in Italy and in Lorraine, he was invited by Emperor Joseph I, back to the Hofburg, to work as the "First Theatrical Engineer" and as a scene-painter/decorator from 1709-1712.[3] He was also the architect of the great theatre at Nancy, France; of the Teatro Filarmonico at Verona, which some called the finest theatre in Italy; and of the Teatro Alibert in Rome. In 1726, Francesco returned to Bologna, where he directed the Clementine Academy.[1]

Although his father, Giovanni Galli da Bibiena, had a distinguished career, it was Francesco and his older brother Ferdinando that established the family's artistic reputation and its fortune.[4]


This article incorporates text from the article "GALLI, Francesco" in Bryan's Dictionary of Painters and Engravers by Michael Bryan, edited by Robert Edmund Graves and Sir Walter Armstrong, an 1886–1889 publication now in the public domain.


  1. 1 2 "Galli da Bibiena family | Italian family". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2015-11-17.
  2. 1 2 "Architectural and Ornament Drawings: Juvarra, Vanvitelli, the Bibiena Family, & Other Italian Draughtsmen". Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1975.
  3. 1 2 ""Galli-Bibiena, Francesco" (biography)". aeiou-Austria webpage. Encyclopedia of Austria. 2006.
  4. Kelder, Diane (1968). Drawings By The Bibiena Family. Philadelphia: Winchell Co.

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