The Extraodinary Life of Rosalba Carrier.A Painter

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kim
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The Extraodinary Life of Rosalba Carrier.A Painter

Post by kim » Sun Jan 20, 2019 2:00 pm

Rosalba Carriera (1673-1757) was born on this day. She was arguably the most important female painter in art history in that she was an originator of the Rococo movement in Italy & France.

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She was born in Venice & helped her mother with lace pattern creation from an early age. She took up painting lids of snuff boxes & found a ready trade in the busy city state.

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Carriera was fortunate to be living in one of the most popular tourist cities of the time. She benefitted from the beginning of Grand Tour visitors as well as a certain frisson for men in having themselves painted by a woman. Man (nd), Africa (nd), Pisana Mocenigo & Woman (1710)

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She quickly notched up a number of European crowned heads & became a feature on the aristocratic tour of Venice. Self-Portrait (c1690-1700). Her pictures of herself are brave in their honesty whereas she flattered her clients.

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She was making pastel drawings by 1703. These appealed to her as portraits could be completed quickly & were readily portable. For tourists this was a boon as oil portraits could take months to be ready. Young Girl (c1708) & Self-Portrait with Sister (1709)

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She was responsible for combining coloured chalk dust with a binding agent into crayon form -revolutionising art & allowing artists to be mobile & visit clients to do sittings. This sped up her portraiture. Woman with Dog (1710-20) & Allegory of Music (1712)

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In 1704 she had the singular achievement of being made a non-Roman academician of St Luke. This was a recognition that her art was as equally valid as her male contemporaries. Girl (1708-10), Man (1710), Giambattista Recanati (c1710-20)

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Carriera moved to Paris in 1721 where she was feted as a woman artist who was both famous & a proponent of the Rococo style. She even painted a portrait of the great artist Watteau. Louis XV (1720-1), Girl with Monkey (1721) & King Augustus III of Poland (1714)

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Rosalba’s mother & 2 sisters were also helping with the portraits she created, to support her. Despite her extreme hard work & systematic approach she gave the Rococo an airy, ephemeral launch in Paris. Muse (1723-7), Child (c1720 & c1720) & Sidney Beauclerk (c1720)

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It was a mark of Carriera’s ingenuity that she travelled to where the market was & maximised her fame to drive business. Antoine Watteau (1721) & Princess Benedetta von Modena (1723) & Watteau’s c1719 painting of Pierrot for comparison

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The Carriera women returned to Venice in 1721 but Rosalba continued to make trips abroad in order to support her family. Emperor Charles VI of Austria became her patron & she trained the Empress! Autumn (1725), Boy (1725-6), Spring (1725) & Summer (1725)

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Her commitment, ingenuity & development of a style was unique & impressive. Tyrolese Innkeeper (c1728), Duke of Wharton (1720s) & Love Directing a Concert (c1719)

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Suites of seasons were a popular subject matter. Carriera understood that semi-clad women would be attractive to her male clients if presented as ‘high art’. Four Seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn & Winter (1710-35)

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In the late 1730s her sight began to go & later her sisters died leaving her to pass away, blind, aged 84 in 1757. Flora (1730s), Archduchess Maria Theresa (1730) & Head (c1720-30)

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Carriera was an important precedent for the French painter Vigée Le Brun in breaking down prejudices re female artists in the art world. Gentleman (1730s), Lady (1730s) & Faustina Bordoni Hasse (1730s)

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Carriera’s work is redolent of a time & place & speaks of the cosmopolitan city that was Venice at the time. Young Cavalier (1730) & Young Lady of the Leblond Family (1730)

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Self-Portrait (1731, 1740 & 1745). Carriera drew herself in pastels with great honesty & truthfulness. In these works she demonstrates her artistic ability at a higher level than in the flattery she performed for her clients.

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Carriera’s fame was such that she continued to be asked to draw portraits of the high & mighty. Cardinal Melchior de Polignac (1732), Sister Maria Caterina (1732-4), Venetian Lady (1735-40) & Crown Prince Friedrich Christian of Saxony (1739)

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Her images of men, in particular, demonstrate that she was excellent at building a rapport with her sitters. Gentleman (1739-40), Lady (1740), Sir James Gray (1744-5) & Man (nd)

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Carriera was one of the most important Italian artists & her work has a delightful charm that is as visible today as it was 250 years ago. Duchess d’Orleans (1750s)

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