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Count Francesco Algarotti (11 December, 17123 May, 1764) was an Italianmarker philosopher and art critic.He also completed engravings.

He was born in Venicemarker to a rich merchant. He studied at Romemarker for a year, and then Bolognamarker, he studied natural sciences and mathematics. At age of twenty, he went to Parismarker, where he became friendly with Voltaire and produced his Neutonianismo per le dame ("Newtonism for Ladies"), a work on optics. Voltaire called him his "cher cygne de Padoue" ("dear swan of Padua"). Two years later he was in Londonmarker, where he was made a fellow of the Royal Society, and became embroiled in a lively bisexual love-triangle with the politician John Hervey, and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. Algarotti later dedicated six of the letters that made up his Viaggi di Russia to Hervey. Returning from a journey to Russiamarker, he met Frederick the Great, who made him a Prussian count in 1740 and court chamberlain in 1747; they are said to have been lovers. Augustus III of Poland also honoured him with the title of councillor. In 1754, after seven years' residence partly in Berlinmarker and partly in Dresdenmarker, he returned to Italymarker, living at Venice and then at Pisamarker, where he died. Frederick the Great erected to his memory a monument on the Campo Santomarker at Pisa. He was "one of the first beaux esprits of the age," a man of wide knowledge, a connoisseur in art and music, and the friend of most of the leading authors of his time.

His chief work on art is the Saggi sopra le belle arti ("Essays on the Fine Arts"). Among his other works were Poems, Travels in Russia, Essay on Painting, and Correspondence.

He was one of the main collectors of art for Augustus III of Poland's collection in Dresdenmarker. His choice of works reflects the encyclopedic interests of the Neoclassic age; he was uninterested in developing a single unitary stylistic collection, he envisioned a modern museum, a catalogue of styles from across the ages. For contemporary commissions, he wrote up a list for paintings he recommended commissioning, including to ask of history paintings from Tiepolo, Pittoni, and Piazzetta; scenes with animals from Castiglione, and veduta with ruins from Pannini. He wanted "suggetti graziosi e leggeri" from Balestra, Boucher, and Donato Creti.

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