Rosalba Carriera, Self-Portrait as Winter, 1731. Pastel on paper. 18 x 13 inches (46.5 x 34 cm). Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden, Germany
One of the most successful women artists of any era, the Venetian-born Rosalba Carriera spent most of her long life fulfilling commissions for distinguished patrons at courts across eighteenth century Europe. The daughter of a clerk and a lace maker, Carriera began her career painting miniatures—mostly portraits and allegorical subjects—which quickly established her reputation within the artistic establishment. Indeed, based on these early works she was accepted into Rome’s Accademia di San Luca in 1704. Meanwhile, Carriera was also developing an innovative approach to the medium for which she is best known today: pastels.
At the urging of the prominent French banker and art collector Pierre Crozat, in 1720 Carriera went to Paris, where she spent a triumphant year, visiting important art collections, meeting major French artists, and creating widely celebrated portraits of prominent individuals, including the young Louis XV. Some years later, she spent time working in Modena and Austria, assisted by her sister Giovanna. Carriera’s greatest patron was Augustus III of Poland, who sat for her in 1713 and eventually amassed a collection of more than one hundred fifty pastels by the artist, which are currently part of the Dresden Gemäldegalerie.
Although Carriera’s last two decades were marred by the emotional and physical traumas of Giovanna’s death in 1738 and the loss of her own sight eight years later, her work continued to influence later artists. While pastels had previously been used for making informal drawings and preparatory sketches, Carriera is credited with popularizing their use as a medium for serious portraiture, as can be seen in the work of Georges de la Tour. Her work is also cited as a source of inspiration for the French portraitists Adélaïde Labille-Guiard and Elisabeth Louise Vigée-LeBrun.
sister of Giovanna Carriera
sister-in-law of Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini
influenced by Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini
friend of Antoine Watteau
friend of Federico Bencovich
friend of Nicolas Vleughels
friend of Antoine Coypel
student of Giuseppe Lazzari
student of Antonio Balestra
student of Giuseppe Diamantini
student of Jean Steves
student of Pietro Liberi
teacher of Felicita Sartoni
teacher of Gustaf Lundberg
Member, Bologna Academy of Arts, Bologna, Italy (1720)
Member, Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, Paris, France (1720)
Accademico di Merito, Accademia di San Luca, Rome, Italy (1704)