Angelica Kauffman at the Royal Academy of Arts

Royal Academy Exhibition

In an age when the work of early female artists is often overlooked, a new solo show featuring Angelica Kauffman at the Royal Academy of Arts is guaranteed to put her name firmly back on the map and bring her exceptional skills as a portraitist and decorative painter to a whole new audience.

Running 1 March-30 June 2024, the exhibition covers Kauffman's life and work, from her rise to fame in Georgian London and her role as a founding member of the Royal Academy to the latter part of her career in Rome, where her studio became a hub for the city's vibrant cultural life.

During her career, Kauffman was best known for steering the direction of European art. Her celebrity portraits of leading figures of the day, including queens, countesses, actors and socialites, secured her status as a darling of society. As a woman painter in a man's world, the artist put her unique spin on historical painting. She did this by focusing predominantly on female protagonists from classical history and mythology, such as Circe and Cleopatra.

Kauffman was renowned for her lightness of touch and her ability to paint the intricacies of fabric was second to none. For instance, Portrait of Emma, Lady Hamilton, as Muse of Comedy (1791) and Self-Portrait of the Artist hesitating between the Arts of Music and Painting (1794) capture to perfection the billowing folds of taffeta and silk in bold colours.

Other portraits featuring fellow painter Joshua Reynolds (1767) and the actor David Garrick (1764) demonstrate Kauffman's ability to put her sitters at ease. Their warm facial expressions and relaxed postures speak volumes.

Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BD

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