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Angelica Kauffman

A painting of a light-skinned adult woman delicately holding a paintbrush and small canvas. Her brown hair is piled carefully in large curls atop her head, and she wears a flowing, billowy yellow and white dress.

Angelica Kauffman, Self-portrait, ca. 1770-1775; © National Portrait Gallery, London

1741–1807

A child prodigy who was producing commissioned portraits in her early teens, Kauffman was trained by her father, the muralist Johann Joseph Kauffman (b. 1707, Schwarzenberg, Austria). During the early 1760s, she traveled through Switzerland, Austria, and Italy working as her father’s assistant. This transient life provided her the rare opportunity for a woman to see and copy many classical and Renaissance masterworks and to meet leaders of the popular new movement known as Neoclassicism.

During a three-year stay in Italy, Kauffman made her reputation as a painter of portraits; she also produced history paintings. Recognition of her accomplishments is indicated by her election to Rome’s Accademia di San Luca in 1765. In 1766, Kauffman moved to London, where she achieved immediate success as a portraitist. Over the next 16 years, she exhibited regularly at the prestigious Royal Academy and worked for a glittering array of aristocratic and royal patrons.

In 1781, Kauffman married the painter Antonio Zucchi, who succeeded her father as her business manager. By the time of her death, she had achieved such renown that her funeral was directed by the prominent Neoclassical sculptor Antonio Canova, who based it on the funeral of the Renaissance master Raphael.

Artist Details

  • Name

    Angelica Kauffman
  • Birth

    Chur, Switzerland, 1741
  • Death

    Rome, 1807
  • Phonetic Spelling

    ahn-GAY-lee-kah KOWF-man

Works by Angelica Kauffman

The Family of the Earl Gower

The Family of the Earl Gower demonstrates Angelica Kauffman’s ability to render complex, multi-figure compositions. It also illustrates her frequent inclusion of classicizing elements in contemporary scenes.

Granville Leveson-Gower (1721–1803), known as Viscount Trentham, the Earl Gower, and the first Marquess of Stafford, was a British politician. Kauffman depicts him as the patriarch of his large family, which has gathered in...

A realistic painting features eight light-skinned figures arranged in a pastoral setting: three women, two men, and a young girl tending to two toddlers. The scene includes classical references such as lyrical costumes, lyre, scroll, floral garlands, and marble bust.