Virtually nothing is known of Amigoni’s early life. The date of his birth has not been firmly established, but it is thought that he was born in Venice around 1685. He possibly served his apprenticeship with the Veronese painter Antonio Balestra. Amigoni’s name first appears in the records of the Venetian painters’ guild (the fraglia) in 1711, although in common with many Venetian artists of the period, he had already been forced by the unfavourable economic climate to seek employment abroad.
Amigoni possibly worked in Düsseldorf as an assistant to the Venetian painter Antonio Bellucci. He spent the years 1717-29 in Bavaria, where Amigoni worked chiefly on decorative fresco cycles commissioned by the elector for the palace of Schleissheim and decorations in the Abbey of Ottobeuren.
After an Italian tour which took him to Rome, Naples and Venice, he made a trip through Holland to London, where he arrived late in 1729. At first he received a number of commissions for decorative work but increasingly he relied on his practice as a painter of portraits and easel paintings and as a set designer.
He was joined in 1732 by the young German engraver Josef Wagner (1706-80) who had trained under him in Munich, and together they set up a successful print business. Apart from a trip to France in 1736, Amigoni remained in England until 1739, when he returned with Wagner to Venice.
Bacchus and Ariadne 1740-2 was painted after Amigoni’s departure from England, but he may well have seen a production of Nicolò Porpora’s Ariadne in Naxos during his time there. The scene depicts the rescue by Bacchus, god of wine, of Ariadne, daughter of King Minos of Crete, after she was abandoned on the island of Naxos by her lover Theseus. Amigoni evidently took a liking to the subject as he repeated it on at least two occasions.
In 1747 Amigoni was called to Madrid to take up an appointment as court painter to the king, Ferdinand VI and his queen Barbara of Braganza. He remained in Spain until his death in 1752.