Rosalba Carriera

Painted portrait of a woman with a light skin tone, short grey hair and blue eyes. She wears a blue hat with golden tassels, pearl earrings and a fur stole. Visible brushstrokes blend her hair into the background, with the features of her face more sharply defined.

Rosalba Carriera, Self Portrait as Winter, 1731. Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden, Germany

1675 to 1757

The daughter of a clerk and a lace maker, Carriera began her career painting miniatures—mostly portraits and allegorical subjects. Such works quickly established her reputation within the Italian artistic establishment and gained her acceptance into Rome’s Accademia di San Luca in 1704.

Carriera is best known for her innovative approach to pastels, which had previously been used for informal drawings and preparatory sketches. She is credited with popularizing their use as a medium for serious portraiture.

In 1720, Carriera spent a triumphant year in Paris, visiting art collections, meeting French artists, and creating portraits of prominent individuals, including the young Louis XV. She later worked in Modena and Austria, assisted by her sister Giovanna. Her greatest patron, Augustus III of Poland, sat for her in 1713 and amassed more than 150 of her pastels.

Carriera’s last two decades were marred by the emotional and physical traumas of her sister Giovanna’s death in 1738 and the loss of her own sight eight years later, but her work continued to influence artists, such as French portraitists Adélaïde Labille-Guiard and Elisabeth Louise Vigée-LeBrun.

Artist Details

  • Name

    Rosalba Carriera
  • Birth

    Venice, 1675
  • Death

    Venice, 1757
  • Phonetic Spelling

    roh-ZAHL-bah kah-ree-AY-rah

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