Kauffmann, Angelica (DNB00)
|←Katterfelto, Gustavus||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 30
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KAUFFMANN, ANGELICA (1741–1807), historical and portrait painter, born at Coire, the capital of the Grisons, 30 Oct. 1741, and baptised by the names of Maria Anna Angelica, was the only daughter of Johann Josef Kauffmann, a native of Schwarzenberg, near Bregenz, and a painter of very mediocre talent, by his second wife, Cleofe Lucin. The father's first wife, Maria Sibilla Lohrin, by whom he had a son, probably died in 1740. When Angelica was eleven months old, Kauffmann removed to Morbegno. She early showed a precocious talent for drawing, which her father encouraged. At nine years of age she had begun to use crayons and oils, and when in 1752 the Kauffmanns left Morbegno and settled at Como, she executed a portrait in pastels of the bishop of that diocese, which was generally admired, and procured her other commissions. She also showed some talent for music, and studied history and modern languages, four of which she afterwards spoke fluently. In 1754 the family went to Milan, where Angelica studied in the galleries, and, becoming friendly with the governor, was introduced into the best society. She soon gained popularity as a portrait-painter, and the Duchess of Carrara was among her sitters. After her mother's death (1 March 1757), Angelica went with her father to his native village, Schwarzenberg, where he undertook a commission from the Bishop of Constance to paint the church in fresco, and his daughter executed twelve full-length figures of the apostles in the niches round the church. The bishop was so well satisfied that he commissioned both artists to paint some sacred subjects on the walls of his villa, and while there Angelica painted the portraits of her host and some of his guests. On returning to Milan, Angelica finally adopted the profession of painting in preference to that of music, for which her father had at one time designed her. She commemorated her difficulty in making her choice between the arts in an allegorical picture (1760), ‘A Female Figure allured by Music and Painting,’ of which she made many drawings. One, executed as late as 1802, she sent to Schöpfer at Munich, who copied it in chalks. To complete her artistic education, her father took her to Piacenza, Parma, Reggio, Bologna, and after seven months' study at Florence they arrived at Rome in January 1763. Part of that year was spent in Naples, where Angelica painted the portraits of many English persons. Returning to Rome in the winter, she made the acquaintance of Winckelmann, and painted the portraits of him which are now respectively at Frankfort and Zürich. At Rome she first devoted herself to allegorical and historical compositions, which are chiefly characteristic of her later style. In October 1765 the Kauffmanns went by way of Bologna to Venice, where Angelica studied the works of Titian, Tintoretto, and Veronese. Here she met her English friends from Naples, and was persuaded by them to visit England. In 1766 she left Venice with Lady Wentworth, wife of the English ambassador, Mr. Morris, and after staying at Paris arrived in London, 22 June 1766.
The young artist was at once introduced by her patroness into the best English society, and herself and her paintings rapidly became the mode. Her father joined her early in 1767, and the two artists made their home in Golden Square. A portrait which Angelica painted of the Princess of Brunswick and her infant (one of her best portraits, now in Hampton Court Gallery) won royal favour; the Princess of Wales visited her studio, and she was introduced at court. Besides painting Queen Charlotte and Christian VII, king of Denmark, Angelica was employed to decorate a room, called the Flower Room, for the queen at Frogmore. But about November 1767 she unfortunately contracted a clandestine marriage in a catholic chapel with an impostor, who called himself the Count de Horn. The man had many aliases, and seems to have been a valet or a courier. His deception was soon discovered; the Kauffmanns bribed him to leave England, and procured a deed of separation, dated 10 Feb. 1768, from the pope. Horn's death finally released Angelica. Her charm of manner attracted many distinguished admirers. Goldsmith wrote some lines to her; Garrick, whom she painted, was much fascinated by her, and Fuseli paid addresses to her. Her most serious flirtation, however, was with Sir Joshua Reynolds, whose acquaintance she made directly she arrived in London. He painted her portrait twice. She frequently visited his studio, and painted a weak and uncharacteristic portrait of the painter, which Bartolozzi engraved. Nathaniel Dance, whom she had met in Italy, is also said to have been hopelessly in love with her [see Holland, Sir Nathaniel Dance]. He painted a portrait of her which is now at Burghley House, the property of the Marquis of Exeter (cf. Taylor, Records of my Life, i. 47). Through Reynolds's influence she exhibited in the Associated Painters' Gallery, and was elected one of the original thirty-six members of the Royal Academy on its foundation in April 1769. Until 1782 Angelica exhibited annually at the Academy, and was an occasional exhibitor in later years. Between 1769 and 1797 she sent to the Academy eighty-two pictures in all; the ceiling of the council chamber at Burlington House is by her hand. She was selected as one of the artists to carry out Reynolds's scheme for the decoration of St. Paul's, 1772, but failed in the competition. Reynolds quarrelled with Nathaniel Hone [q. v.] in 1775 on account of a fancied insult to Angelica and himself, which he detected in one of Hone's pictures (J. T. Smith, Nollekens and his Times, i. 147–9). In 1771 Angelica spent seven months in Ireland, where she stayed with the viceroy, Lord Londonderry, Lord Ely, Lord Robinson, and others, painting family portraits and decorating her hosts' houses. In England she seems to have been often employed by the famous brothers Adam, and ceilings and decorations by her hand may be found in many London and country houses of the period.
Ultimately her father's failing health obliged her to leave England. On 14 July 1781 she married Antonio Zucchi, a Venetian painter (born 1728), long resident in London, and also an associate of the Academy, and five days later left London, travelling by way of Holland and Schwarzenberg to Italy. They spent the winter at Venice, making acquaintance with the Emperor Paul and the Empress of Russia (travelling incognito), for whom Angelica executed a picture of the death of Leonardo da Vinci. Angelica's father died at Venice 2 Jan. 1782. Angelica (who retained her maiden name) went on with her husband to Rome, where she spent the remainder of her life. To the last she was the centre of a circle of admirers. Goethe when in Rome in 1787 professed a sentimental attachment to her. She painted his portrait, and he read her the manuscript of ‘Iphigenia;’ he afterwards sent her ‘Egmont,’ and corresponded with her (see vol. v. of Goethe Society Publications). Despite his enthusiasm for her personally, Goethe's estimate of her paintings was tempered by just criticism (ib. and Goethe, Winckelmann und sein Jahrhundert).
Two other German poets, Klopstock and Gessner, wrote verses to Angelica. Joseph II made her acquaintance in Rome in 1784, and much admired her; and for him, for the queen of Naples, for Catherine II of Russia, and for Stanislaus, king of Poland, she executed many of her late historical, religious, and allegorical pictures. A large historical picture which she painted in 1792 for Pope Pius VI for the church of Loretto, was copied by his desire in mosaic. Both Morghens were friends of hers, and touched up some of her pictures.
Her husband died in 1795, and the revolution of 1798 involved Angelica in heavy money losses, but she refused pressing invitations to England. Early in 1802 she visited Florence, Milan, Como, and Venice for the last time. Her health was now failing, but in 1805 her mind was still active, and she continued to paint till the last. She died peacefully at Rome on 5 Nov. 1807, aged 66, a cousin, who had lived many years with her, nursing her to the end. The funeral in the church of Sant' Andrea delle Fratte on 7 Nov. was conducted with much pomp. Canova personally superintended the arrangements, while the academicians of St. Luke (of which academy Angelica was a member) carried the pall, and bore two of her pictures. Her will, dated 17 June 1803, is, with other documents and portraits, extant at Dornbirn, near Bregenz, and is printed at length in the ‘Zeitschrift für bildende Künst,’ xxiv. 294. In 1808 her bust was placed in the Pantheon at Rome.
In person Angelica was of medium height, with a fresh complexion, blue eyes, regular features, and an expression of vivacity and good-humour, which seems to have been her chief fascination. Her personal attractions partly account for the exaggerated praise showered on her art by her contemporaries. Her drawing and anatomy are faulty; her figures, male and female, are monotonous and vapid, and the composition of her groups is bad. She attempted to develope what has been well called the sentimentality of the antique, a style much admired in the eighteenth century. On the other hand, the grace and charm of her work are undeniable; her colouring, though often crude, is warm and fresh, and she excelled in house decoration of the ornamental type in vogue in her day. Very few of her portraits display much distinctive character. Her pictures lend themselves well to engraving, and about six hundred engravings were executed of them by the famous engravers of the time, including Bartolozzi, Ryland, T. Burke, Bettelini, Scorodomoff, Morghen, and Schiavametti. About two hundred of these, together with some of Angelica's original drawings and etchings, are in the print room at the British Museum. The artist herself learnt engraving, and etched about thirty-one plates. Many of these were published by Boydell, who employed her in illustrating his ‘Shakespeare Gallery,’ and she took some part in illustrating Bell's ‘British Theatre.’ Among her etchings the best-known are: a marriage of St. Catherine, after Correggio; a half-length of Hope, dedicated to the Academy of St. Luke; a girl reading; two philosophers with a book; ‘L'Allegro,’ and ‘Il Penseroso,’ and a portrait of Winckelmann. A catalogue of her etchings is given in ‘Der Deutsche Peintre-Graveur von Andersen u. Weigel,’ v. 5, 380. Of her numerous pictures and portraits, other than those already mentioned, the best are the following: Portraits of herself in the National Portrait Gallery, London, in the Berlin Museum (1784), in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich (1784), at Innspruck, and Philadelphia, and in the artists' room in the Uffizi, Florence; Louis I of Bavaria (1805) (in Neue Pinakothek, Munich, and Schleissheim Gallery); Prince Poniatowski, 1785; Raphael Mengs and Lady Hamilton (both in South Kensington Museum), the Baroness von Kiuder and child (in the Louvre), the architect Novosielski in Edinburgh National Gallery. Her chief allegorical and historical paintings are: ‘The Death of Leonardo da Vinci,’ 1781, and ‘Servius Tullius as a Child,’ 1784, painted for the Czar Paul; ‘Thetis bathing Achilles in Water from the Styx,’ in the academy, St. Petersburg; two, illustrating Sterne's ‘Sentimental Journey,’ and ‘The Adieux of Abelard and Heloise,’ painted for the Empress Catherine II, in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg; ‘Hermann and Thusnelda,’ ‘Lament for the youthful Varus,’ ‘Pallas,’ painted for Joseph II, 1786, in Vienna Gallery; ‘Achilles in Female Attire discovered by Ulysses;’ ‘St. Joachim;’ ‘St. Ann and infant Christ,’ 1785–8; ‘A Lady as a Vestal’ (Princess Mary of Courland); ‘A Lady as a Sybil;’ ‘Ariadne and Theseus,’ in the Dresden Gallery; ‘Religion surrounded by the Virtues,’ 1798, in the National Gallery, London; ‘Christ and the Woman of Samaria,’ 1799, in the Neue Pinakothek, Munich; ‘Coriolanus going into Exile,’ 1802, ‘Scene from Ossian's Songs;’ a Madonna, Aschaffenburg Gallery; ‘Virtue directed by Prudence to withstand the solicitations of Folly,’ at Philadelphia (Pennsylvania Gallery); ‘Sybils,’ in the Pinacoteca, Turin.
At Burghley House (Lord Exeter's), where Angelica painted much, are fifteen of her pictures. Other pictures are scattered about in private collections; fine portraits by her of Sir John and Lady Cullum are at Hardwick House, Bury St. Edmunds.[Manuscript notes and documents lent by F. Hendriks, esq., and Lady Richmond Ritchie; information from Frau Doctor Schubert-Feder, R. F. Sketchley, esq., and L. Cust, esq. The fullest biography is by G. G. de Rossi, Florence, 1810. See also Angelica Kauffmann, a biography, by Frances A. Gerard, 1892; Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie; Nagler's Künstler-Lexikon; Denkwürdige Frauen von Ida von Dümigsfeld, Leipzig, 1891; Leslie's Sir Joshua Reynolds, ed. T. Taylor, 1865; Kugler's Handbook, ed. J. A. Crowe, 1879, p. 55; Redgraves' Century of Painters, i. 176; Bryan's Dict. of Painters; Cyclopædia of Painters and Painting; Athenæum, March 1880. Two letters of Angelica's are printed in Notes and Queries, 1865, 3rd ser. vii. 109. A poem was written to Angelica by George Keate [q. v.], 1784. A contemporary but somewhat inaccurate memoir by J. Moser, giving letters from and concerning the artist, is in the European Magazine for 1809, v. 55, 251.]