Perhaps the most internationally famous and prolific female artist of the 18th century, Kauffman was a child prodigy. She was born in Chur, Switzerland but grew up in Schwarzenberg, Austria where her father, Johann Joseph Kauffman, also a painter, encouraged his daughter to hone her musical and artistic talents. When Kauffman’s mother, Cleophea Luz Kauffman, died in 1757, Kauffman decided to give up her music and devote herself to painting.
Throughout Kauffman’s life she traveled extensively. In 1764 Kauffman moved to Rome. At this point in her life she was already famous. On a trip through Venice she met Lady Bridget Wentworth Murray who encouraged her to come to England. Kauffman moved to London in 1766 and by 1768 had become a founding member of the Royal Academy. Her fame made her ripe for scandalous talk and she also became acquainted with many other famous people of her time including Goethe (1749-1832), who was a close friend. Her first marriage, which was annulled, was to a bigamist, and her second marriage in 1781 was to Antonio Zucchi (1726-1795), also a painter, who gave up his career to run Kauffman’s affairs.
Although she is best known for her portraiture, Kauffman also painted grand history paintings which were deemed the highest forms of art in her day, but were normally made by men. Her works are considered Neoclassical but can include touches of Rococo. She painted for royalty, but also made a living selling her portraits to the upper-class. The largest collection of Kauffman’s work is held in the Vorarlberger Landesmuseum in Austria. — Kristin Bell, 2012
Sources: Natter, Tobias G., ed. Angelica Kauffman: A Woman of Immense Talent. Germany: Hatje Canz Verlag, 2007.
Rosenthal, Angela. Angelica Kauffman: Art and Sensibility. New Haven: Yale Press, 2006.
Hi! As you might know if you have scanned my blog, I make it a point to talk about mental health/illness, because I have schizophrenia and I believe in stomping out the stigma of mental illness. Well, I have this cute story to share! I was waiting outside of the classroom for my biology lab class to start this fall and started talking to a supernice girl who was in my class. We got to talking and to try to explain why I had been in school so long I decided to tell her that I have schizophrenia. Lo and behold she says “oh yah, my mom has bipolar and my brother has schizophrenia too!” What a small world!!! It turns out her whole family is active in the mental health field in advocating for the erasure of stigma related to mental illness and they have a website called http://bringchange2mind.org/ . I am always surprised when I talk to people about my own illness and then they also know someone or are someone with mental illness too! It is such a big thing in peoples’ lives and when we talk about it, it is surprising/amazing/wonderful that we aren’t alone in our struggles. So, I just wanted to share this little story and a link to the Bring Change 2 Mind website. It was a wonderful feeling to meet someone else at school who knows first hand about mental illness and to be able to talk openly about it! :) Three cheers for no more stigma!!! :)
Thought you all might like to know about Hollis Sigler. I’m just reading her Breast Cancer Journal right now. I’m not going to write a whole bio here, but just wanted to alert you to her work. She is best known for her images that relate to her struggle with breast cancer. Her story is very moving. Check out more about her at the Hammer Gallery and here.
A lesser known contemporary of the popular Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun (1755-1842), Philiberte Ledoux was born in Paris in 1767 and never married. According to the Chronique Des Arts et de la Curiosité, she may have been the daughter of painter Paul-Guillaume Ledoux who died in 1781. She is known to have participated in the Salons of 1793, 1796, 1799, 1802, 1804, 1805, 1808, 1810, 1814, and 1819 in Paris. Although she did not attend an academy, she did study under French painter, Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725-1805), who was educated at the Royal Academy in Paris.
Philiberte Ledoux was mainly known for her paintings of women and children who were depicted in 18th century French styles. While history does not seem to remember much about her, she must have a been an artist of some repute, because she is cited as the painter of a portrait of Elénore Denuelle (born Louise Cathreine Elénore Denuelle de la Plaigne 1787-1868) who was the mistress of Emperor Napoleon I of France (1769-1821). It is alleged that Denuelle had an illegitimate child with Napoleon I. This child acted as proof that Napoleon I was not impotent and led to his divorce of Joséphine de Beauharnais (1763-1814).
Philiberte Ledoux died in the neighborhood of Belleville in Paris in 1840, but many of her paintings are extant, several of which hang in the Bowes Museum in the town of Barnard Castle in Teesdale, Durham, England. — Kristin Bell, 2012.
Chronique Des Arts et de la Curiosité: Supplément a La Gazette Des Beaux-Arts, vol. 3 (1865): 331.
Evans, Howard V. and Charlotte B. Evans. “Women Artists in Eighteenth-Century France.” Man and Nature/ L’homme eet la nature, vol. 1 (1982): 199-207.
Fleischman, Hector. An Unknown Son of Napoleon. New York : John Lane Company, 1914.