For the final exam of my art history class, we are (among other things) to pick two portraits of our own choice and analyse them. It has taken me quite some time to choose, browsing through women artists at Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons. Choosing portraits by female artists is a statement from my side, women artists have been overlooked for such a long time.
I finally decided on two self-portraits, by Angelica Kauffman and Rolinda Sharples, simply because I find them very pretty and appealing. These two women were born in the same century, but still, there’s an ocean of time between them. Ms Kauffman was born in Switzerland in 1741, and was taught the craft by her father. She early showed signs of great talent, and for a large part of her life stayed in Italy and Great Britain earning her way as a portrait and history painter. In 1768 she was one of only two female painters among the founding members of the Royal Academy of Arts, so she was very well famous during her days. I’ve read somewhere that she was very charming; add prettiness and talent and success is a fact. Angelica Kauffman lived a long and productive life, and died at the age of 66 in Rome.
Ms Sharples was born almost 50 years later, in 1793. Both of her parents were artists, and all children showed talent. The family moved back and forth to the Americas but permanently moved back to Great Britain in 1811, after the death of her father. Together with her mother Ms Sharples resided in Bristol, where she painted portraits and every day scenes of Regency social life. It was primarily her mother who was in charge of her education, and the two of them remained very close for her entire life. Rolinda Sharples died at age 45 of breast cancer. In 1827 she became an honorary member of the Society of British Artists, but her fame was nothing in the magnitude near Ms Kauffman's.
Taking this class of art history is one of the best things I’ve done lately. It takes a whole lot of time, there’s a lot to read, and so many new aspects on history and humanity to consider. One thing that I really enjoy is all new acquaintances I make.
Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun is one adorable person I’ve gotten to know. She was a portrait painter most famous for her portraits of Marie Antoinette, and later she toured Europe and painted lots of royalties and socialites. Her legacy consists of more than 600 portraits, scattered over the world in private collections and art museums. Studying her paintings online (thank you Wikimedia Commons!) was made an even better experience when I found out she had written her autobiography later in life. It can be downloaded through Project Gutenberg, and it’s totally worth the time reading.
I especially like Vigée-Lebrun’s portraits of mothers with their children, they are very intimate and lovingly. Some of my favourites you can see in the slide show below.
Surface pattern designer who loves folk art, gardening and the good things in life.