Angelica Kauffmann (before 1781)
The daughter of an ecclesiastical muralist and portrait painter, the Swiss painter and etcher Angelica Kauffmann (1741-1807) began her career in her father’s studio. She is a rare example of a woman artist who gained fame and distinction during her lifetime. During an extended stay in Italy (1762-66), she became popular as a portraitist among touring English aristocrats. While there, she was accepted into Rome’s Accademia di San Lucca at the young age of 23. In 1766, she moved to London, where she befriended the famed English portraitist Sir Joshua Reynolds and became a leading figure in the city’s artistic and social scene. She was a founding member, along with Reynolds, of the Royal Academy of Arts. Her reputation as a portraitist and interpreter of historical, religious, and mythological subjects in the Neo-classical style had already been firmly established by the time she finally settled in Rome in 1782. Kauffmann’s salon was an intellectual and artistic hub for painters, writers, and scholars, including visitors from Germany. Johann Joachim Winckelmann, Johann Gottfried Herder, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, and Duchess Anna Amalia of Saxony, Weimar, and Eisenach all visited Kaufmann during their respective Italian journeys. Self-portrait, oil on canvas, by Angelica Kauffmann, before 1781.