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Angelica Kauffmann

The painting princess


Swiss  Neoclassical  Historical Painter

Artistically and Stylistically Influenced by the Following Painters - Francois Gerard, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Jacques-Louis David

Education - learned to the basics of painting in her fathers, Johann Josef Kauffmann, studio.

Cause of Death - heart failure, she died in Rome

Mediums - painting


She was born in Switzerland in 1741 as the only child to the
mediocre portrait painter Joseph Kauffmann. Something of a child prodigy she spoke  five languages and read voraciously. Kauffmann was captivated by the ideas of
Prussian antiquarian Johann Joachim Winckelmann, whom she befriended while in Rome.  "Angelica was now eighteen years old, and in a measure was prepared to profit by the aid and advice of Winckelmann. He conceived an ardent friendship for the young artist, and, though no longer young, and engaged in most important and absorbing research, he found time to interest himself in Angelica's welfare, and allowed her to paint his portrait, to which she gave an expression which proved that she had comprehended the spirit of this remarkable man of threescore years." She painted a famous portrait of him in 1764.

Kauffmann's paintings are outstanding examples of the Neoclassical style accepted by the French Academy in the nineteenth century. Her favorite subjects were frolicking cherubs, chivalrous flirtations and historical scenes, all within the guidelines firmly dictated by the Academy.  Kauffmann recognized the danger of undue acceptance of strict rules, rejecting the overstated frigidity of the purest forms of neoclassicism and adding sensuous lines, a refined sensibility and a harmonious feminine touch. She believed as Wincklemann did that unity and simplicity are the two true sources of beauty.


Description and Origins of the Neoclassic Art Movement

The period is called neoclassical because its artists looked back to the art and culture of classical Greece and Rome.   The spread of Neoclassical Art was primarily inspired by recent roman archeological excavations and by the manuscripts of German classical archaeologist and art critic Johann Joachim Winckelmann. Winckelmann gushed about the "noble simplicity and quiet grandeur? of Greek sculpture, which he believed to be the most perfect beauty ever created by human hands, and recommended that artists emulate these classical forms. His ideas were mainly influential to the generation of neoclassical artists who flocked abound him in Rome.  Neoclassical art is characterized by its classical form and structure, clarity, and to an degree, realism.

French Neoclassism painters emphasis's patriotism, as well as a sense of civility and honorableness. The movement was particularly connected with the beliefs of the French Revolution and was seen as anti-aristocratic. The fantasy-based aristocratic art of the Rococo seemed an insult upon the rights of men and was vilified by critics and the general public.  In an age of sweeping revolution and transformation Neoclassicism became the art of change.



Famous Artists of the Neoclassical Period

James Barry Irish, 1741-1806
Antonio Canova Italian, 1757-1822
Jacques-Louis David French, 1748-1825
Jules Elie Delaunay French, 1828-1891
Francois Gerard French, 1770-1837
Antoine-Jean Gros  French, 1771-1835
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres French, 1780-1867
Angelica Kauffmann Swiss, 1741-1807
Rembrandt Peale American, 1778-1860
Bertel Thorvaldsen Danish, 1770-1844
John Trumbull American, 1756-1843
Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun   French, 1755-1842

Benjamin  West American, 1738-1820


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Richard Muther, The History of Painting, Henry and Co., London, 1896



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