Angelica Kauffmann

Swiss, 1741-1807

Angelica peers out at us through the subject matter of her works with Neoclassical themes. Throughout her career she must have felt a particular affinity with the image of Athena, the goddess of wisdom and liberal arts, who sits behind the braid on her right shoulder. Like Athena, Angelica held a position of power in a pantheon dominated by male figures. Along with Sir Joshua Reynolds, Angelica Kauffman was one of the co-founders of the Royal Academy of Art in London. Her position gave her the authority to produce history paintings and she is largely responsible for the dissemination of the Neoclassical style in England. This painting of the artist is based on a portrait that Angelica painted of herself looking some 20 years younger than she was at the time the work was executed. Although Angelica also produced images of herself as an older woman, at this time in her life this image must have provided a special kind of reflection on her role as an artist and woman in 18th-century England.

Original Works Referenced

Self-portrait after Joshua Reynolds
Private collection

Athena Taking Up Arms
c. 1768
Private collection

Telemachus on the
Island of Calypso
c. 1784
Private collection

Ariadne Abandoned by Theseus
c. 1782
Staatliche Kunstsammlungen