Andrea Appiani studied initially with Carlo Maria Giudici and then Traballesi, a teacher of painting at the Ambrosian Academy. After starting out with frescoes on religious subjects (Caglio, 1776–77; Arona, 1778), he established his reputation with works of a secular character produced for the mansions of various Milanese noble families (including the Busca, Arese Litta, Greppi and Orsini) in the 1780s. It was direct contact with Graeco-Roman and Renaissance art (especially Raphael) during a trip to Rome in 1791 that prompted his adoption of Neoclassical stylistic canons. On his return from Rome, he was commissioned by the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand II to paint a series of frescoes on the myth of Psyche and Eros for the rotunda of the Villa Reale in Monza (1792). Appiani’s relations with governmental institutions became still closer in the Napoleonic period, when he became the official painter to the emperor, who appointed him General Commissioner of Fine Arts in Paris in 1802. His numerous official commissions include depictions of Napoleonic splendours and decorations for the Hall of Caryatids in the Palazzo Reale, Milan (1807–10, frescoes destroyed during World War II), and Parnassus (1812) in the Villa Reale, Milan. Together with Canova, Appiani was the leading representative of the Neoclassical culture in Italy and, like the sculptor, much in demand among the Francophile entourage for his portraits (Napoleon as First Consul and The Melzi Family).