1902 Encyclopedia > Angelica Kauffman (Angelica Kauffmann)

Angelica Kauffman
(Angelica Kauffmann)
Swiss-Austrian Neoclassical painter

ANGELICA KAUFFMAN (or KAUFFMANN) (1740-1807). This once popular artist and Eoyal Academician was born at Coire in the Grisons, October 30, 1740 or 1741. Her baptismal name was Maria-Anne-Augelica-Catharine. Her father, John Joseph Kauffmann, was a poor man and mediocre painter, but apparently very successful in teach-ing his precocious daughter. She rapidly acquired several languages, read incessantly, and showed marked talents as a musician. Her greatest progress, however, was in paint-ing ; and in her twelfth year she had become a notability, with bishops and nobles for her sitters. In 1754 her father took her to Milan, where she diligently studied the great masters. Later visits to Italy of long duration appear to have succeeded this excursion, and in 1763 she visited Rome, returning to it again in 1764. From Rome she passed to Bologna and Venice, being every-where feted and caressed, as much for her talents as for her personal charms. Writing from Rome in August 1764 to his friend Franke, Winckelmann refers to her ex-ceptional popularity. She was then painting his picture, a half length, of which she also made an etching. She spoke Italian as well as German, he says; and she also expressed herself with facility in French and English,— one result of the last-named accomplishment being that she painted all the English visitors to the Eternal City. " She may be styled beautiful," he adds, " and in singing may vie with our best virtuosi." While at Venice, she was induced by Lady Wentworth, the wife of the English ambassador, to accompany her to London, where she ap-peared in 1765. One of her first works was a portrait of Garrick, exhibited in the year of her arrival at " Mr Moreing's great room in Maiden Lane." The rank of Lady Wentworth opened society to her, and she was everywhere well received, the royal family especially showing her great favour.

Her firmest friend, however, was Reynolds. In his pocket-book her name as " Miss Angelica" or " Miss Angel" appears frequently, and in 1766 he painted her, a compliment which she returned by the Portrait of Sir Joshua Reynolds, aetat. 46, which was exhibited by Lord Morley at the "Old Masters" in 1S76. Another instance of her intimacy with Reynolds is to be found in the varia-tion of Guercino's " Et in Arcadia ego " produced by her at this date, a subject which Reynolds repeated a few years later in his portrait of Mrs Bouverie and Mrs Crewe. When, in 1768 or thereabouts, she was entrapped into a marriage with an adventurer who passed for a Swedish count, Reynolds befriended her, and it was doubtless owing to his good offices that her name is found among the signi-taries to the famous petition to the king for the establish-ment of the Royal Academy. In its first catalogue of 1769 she appears with " R.A." after her name (an honour which she shared with another lady and compatriot, Mary Moser); and she contributed the Interview of Hector and Andromache, and three other classical compositions. From this time until 1782 she was an annual exhibitor, sending sometimes as many as seven pictures, generally classic or allegorical subjects. One of the most notable of her per-formances was the Leonardo expiring in the Arms of Francis the First, which belongs to the year 1778. In 1773 she was appointed by the Academy with others to decorate St Paul's, and it was she who, with Biaggio Rebecca, painted the Academy's old lecture room at Somerset House. It is probable that her popularity declined a little in consequence of her unfortunate marriage ; but after her first husband's death (she had been long separated from him) she married Antonio Zucchi, a Venetian artist, then resident in England. This was in 1781. Shortly afterwards she retired to Rome, where she lived for twenty-five years with much of her old prestige. In 1782 she lost her father; and in 1795—the year in which she painted the picture of Lady Hamilton now at South Kensington—her husband. She continued at intervals to contribute to the Academy, her last exhibit being in 1797. After this she produced but little, and in November 1807 she died, being honoured by a splendid funeral under the direction of Canova. The entire Academy of St Luke, with numerous ecclesiastics and virtuosi, followed her to her tomb in St Andrea dolle Frate, and, as at the burial of Raphael, two of her best pictures were carried in procession.

Popular as they were during her lifetime, the works of Angelica Kauffman have not retained their reputation. She had a certain gift of grace, and considerable skill in composition. But her draw- ing is weak and faulty ; her figures lack variety and expression ; and hei men are masculine women. Her colouring, however, is fairly enough defined by Waagen's term "cheerful." Rooms decorated by her brush are still to be seen in various quarters. At Hampton Court is a portrait of the duchess of Brunswick; in the National Gallery an allegorical composition of Religion attended by the Virtues. There are other pictures by her at Paris, at Dresden, in the Hermitage at St Petersburg, and in the Pinako- thek at Munich. The Munich example is a portrait of herself; there is a second in the Uffizi at Florence, and a third in the National Portrait Gallery, South Kensington. A few of her works in private collections have also been exhibited among the "Old Masters" at Burlington House. But she is perhaps best known by the numerous engravings from her designs by Schiavonetti, Bartolozzi, and others. Those by Bartolozzi especially still find considerable favour with collectors. Her life was written in 1810 by Giovanni de Rossi. It has also been used as the basis of a romance by Leon de Wailly, 1838; and it prompted the charming noveletto contributed by Mrs Richmond Ritchie to the CornMll Magazine in 1875 under the title of ''Miss Angel." (A. D.)

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