Rosalba Carriera (1675-1757) was one of the most successful artists of any era. Her work in pastel, watercolour and miniature was admired by collectors across Europe. Her role in introducing ivory to British miniaturists as a support revolutionized the art form. Carriera did not visit England, but her works of art were so coveted by collectors that many of her pieces were commissioned by British patrons. She also trained other artists – three female artists in particular are noted as pupils – Marianna Carlevanjis and Margherita Terzi, and the writer Luisa Bergalli. This suggests a support network for fellow women who wished to succeed in this profession and who may have felt that a female teacher provided a more comfortable environment in which to learn their craft.[1]

Carriera was probably painting on an ivory support as early as 1696, producing scenes to decorate ‘fondelli’ or snuffboxes and then a self-portrait of herself as ‘Innocence’ as her entry piece to the...

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Rosalba Carriera (1675-1757) was one of the most successful artists of any era. Her work in pastel, watercolour and miniature was admired by collectors across Europe. Her role in introducing ivory to British miniaturists as a support revolutionized the art form. Carriera did not visit England, but her works of art were so coveted by collectors that many of her pieces were commissioned by British patrons. She also trained other artists – three female artists in particular are noted as pupils – Marianna Carlevanjis and Margherita Terzi, and the writer Luisa Bergalli. This suggests a support network for fellow women who wished to succeed in this profession and who may have felt that a female teacher provided a more comfortable environment in which to learn their craft.[1]

Carriera was probably painting on an ivory support as early as 1696, producing scenes to decorate ‘fondelli’ or snuffboxes and then a self-portrait of herself as ‘Innocence’ as her entry piece to the Accademia di San Luca in Rome.[2] She travelled widely across Europe, painting for important patrons, the most important being Augustus III of Poland.[3]

The theme of a girl holding a rabbit or hare in her arms, as an allegory of autumn, was one explored by Carriera several times in her career. The best-known of these images is probably the pastel at the Huntington Library, acquired from the Duveen Brothers for the collection in 1901. The present miniature has the sense that this is a portrait, not necessarily an allegory, as the sitter is shown in a less overtly sensual personification than her other pastels and miniatures of this type.

Although Carriera’s pastels outnumber her miniatures, her dedication to the art form was most likely to blame for her deteriorating eyesight – by the age of seventy she was almost completely blind and she died in 1757 at the age of 81.

[1] N. Jeffares. "Rosalba Carriera." Dictionary of Pastellists Before 1800. London, 2006 [online edition, http://www.pastellists.com/articles/carriera.pdf, accessed 17/09/20].

[2] Now in the Royal Collection, Windsor

[3] Augustus III (1696-1763) was a notable patron of the arts – he amassed over 150 pastel portraits by Carriera, which are currently part of the Dresden Gemäldegalerie in Germany

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500 Years of British Art