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Kauffmann, Maria Anna Angelica Catherina RA

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Angelica Kauffman was born at Coire, in Switzerland, in October 1741. She showed early talent both for music and painting and grew up to be fluent in French, German, Italian and English. Her cosmopolitan, cultivated background and amiable disposition brought her many friends in artistic and literary circles. She went with her family as a young girl to live in Italy, where she stayed for a number of years and where she commenced her career as a painter. In 1766, at the age of 25, she arrived in London from Venice, accompanying Lady Wentworth, the wife of the English ambassador. In her mid-twenties she contracted a clandestine marriage with an imposter claiming to be a Count de Horn, but the family bribed him to leave England and secured a deed of separation from the Pope. Horn subsequently died and Angelica Kauffman, who retained her maiden name, re-married at the age of 40 another painter, Antonio Zucchi, with whom she retired to Italy. She was much admired by Garrick, Goldsmith, Fuseli, and by Reynolds and Nathaniel Dance-Holland, the last being reputedly in love with her. Probably at Reynolds’s behest she was one of the original 36 founder members of the Royal Academy. From the date of its foundation in 1769 until 1797 she exhibited no fewer than 82 paintings there. She appears to have been employed by the Adam brothers, and her work features as part of the decoration in a number of their houses both in London and the country. Her work drew acclaim through the prints from her subjects engraved by Bartolozzi and others. She learned engraving and was employed by Alderman Boydell in illustrating his “Shakespeare Gallery”; she also did some illustrations for Bell’s “British Theatre”. Kauffman’s paintings are rather vapid in colour and her drawing weak, but she displayed an attractive neo-classical charm.
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