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  • Angelica Kauffmann,the Elusive Painter
  • Waltraud Maierhofer
Gabrielle Alioth, Der prüfende Blick: Roman über Angelica Kauffmann (Zurich: Nagel & Kimche, 2007). Pp. 234. €21.50.
Frances A. Gerard, Angelica Kauffmann: A Biography (Kila, MT: Kessinger, 2007). Reprint of 1892 first edition. Pp. 492. $53.95.
Angelica Goodden, Miss Angel: The Art and World of Angelica Kauffman, Eighteenth-Century Icon (London: Random House, 2006). Paperback edition of 2005 first edition. Pp. 400. $22.95.
Tobias Natter, ed., Angelika Kauffmann: Ein Weib von ungeheurem Talent (Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz, 2007). Pp. 272. €39.80.
Tobias G. Natter, ed., Angelica Kauffman: A Woman of Immense Talent (Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz, 2007). Pp. 286. $55.00. €39.80.
Ursula Naumann, Geträumtes Glück: Angelica Kauffmann und Goethe (Frankfurt: Insel, 2007). Pp. 319, many illustrations (8 in col.). €22.80.
Anne Stephan-Chlustin, Un Incontro: In der Hauptstadt des ‘Alten Europa’ mit Angelika Kauffmann und Volfango Goethe: Eine Collage (Coira: Desertina, 2007). Pp. 140. CHF 29.
Angela Rosenthal, Angelica Kauffman: Art and Sensibility. Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art ( New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006). Pp. viii, 342. $65.00.

The Austro-Swiss painter Angelica Kauffmann (1741–1807) was an eighteenth-century celebrity. (I will use this spelling for her name, although it varies in the books reviewed here.) She had an extraordinary international career and reputation. A child prodigy, she was cleverly introduced and marketed by her father to patrons of the nobility, to artists and to Grand tourists in Italy. In 1766, at age twenty-five, she moved with her father to London where she established a studio [End Page 578] and was soon much hailed by London society, which one engraver pronounced was nothing less than “Angelicamad.” She was mentored by Joshua Reynolds and was one of the founding members of the Royal Academy of Arts. There was also no lack of gossip, scandal, and caricature. Nearly everyone who was anyone in eighteenth-century Europe appears to have commissioned a portrait from her. She also gained preeminent prestige in history painting. This ambition may have been the reason she spent her life from 1782 on in Italy, where she was, after Pompeo Batoni’s death, regarded as the best painter. Kauffmann was both an influential salonnière and a wealthy self-made businesswoman.

The first book to be discussed here is the catalogue for the Angelica Kauffmann Commemorative Exhibition 2007 in Bregenz (Austria) and Coira (Switzerland), which carries in its title a famous if ambiguous quote by Goethe, whom she befriended during his stay in Italy: Angelika Kauffmann: Ein Weib von ungeheurem Talent / Angelica Kauffman: A Woman of Immense Talent. The catalogue was compiled by the director of the Vorarlberg State Museum, Tobias G. Natter, and information on the exhibition, which ran from June 1 to November 5, 2007, appeared also on a Web site ( www.vlm.at ). For the catalogue, Natter assembled a respectable list of Kauffmann scholars (and I must disclose that it includes my own essay on the painter’s correspondence—“Art, Fame, Sentiment, and Self: Constructions of Identity in Text and Image”). It is ambitious, not only in its generous format and number of pages, but also with its high-quality reproductions and publication in both German and English by the art publisher Hatje Cantz (quotations that follow are from the English-language edition). The exhibition and the catalogue build on the strength of public and private collections of works by Angelica Kauffmann in the state of Vorarlberg and in Switzerland. The Bregenz region claims her as its most famous daughter via her father, who hailed from the remote village of Schwarzenberg, although she was born in Coira. He allowed her to show her talent as a sixteen-year-old prodigy, when he renovated the church frescos in Schwarzenberg and asked her to execute several of them. She later established a charitable foundation there, and in regular correspondence with her relatives she often wrote about how much she loved her “Vatterland” (fatherland)—although she stayed there only three times in her life. Late in life, she donated a painting for the High Altar of the village’s church. A cousin from Schwarzenberg was her assistant in her...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-315X
Print ISSN
0013-2586
Pages
pp. 578-585
Launched on MUSE
2008-07-13
Open Access
No
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