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Angelica Kauffman

AngelicaKauffman.jpg

Angelica Kauffman | Italy/England/Switzerland/Austria 1741-1807 | The deserted Costanza c.1783-84 | Oil on canvas | 83.2 x 65cm | Gift of The Hon. (Sir) James R. Dickson, MLA 1900 | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

Angelica Kauffman, 'The deserted Costanza', c.1783-84

Angelica Kauffman
Italy/England/Switzerland/Austria  1741-1807
The deserted Costanza c.1783-84
Oil on canvas
83.2 x 65cm
Gift of The Hon. (Sir) James R. Dickson, MLA 1900
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

Angelica Kauffman

The deserted Costanza c.1783-84

Angelica Kauffman is one of the few female masters whose name and work have been preserved in European art history.

Kauffman was born in Switzerland and was trained in painting from a very early age by her father, Johann Joseph. She lived in a number of major European art centres of the eighteenth century, including Milan, Florence, Rome, Venice and England. England was where she was admired for her talent, particularly in portraiture. In 1768, her distinguished position was officially acknowledged when she was nominated as one of the 36 original members of the newly founded Royal Academy.

The deserted Costanza c.1783-84 is an allegorical painting and one of four panels the artist executed for a major commission in Rome in 1783. The painting depicts Costanza ― who believes she has been abandoned by her husband, Gernando ― carving her testimony to him on a rock with his broken sword. However, Gernando, who had been captured by pirates, returns to her. It illustrates a scene from Pietro Metastasio's operetta Isola disabitata.

The text on the rock translates as:
By the traitor Gernando
Costanza is abandoned to herself
In this strange land
Passing friend!
If a tiger thou are not
Either vindicate or commiserate my misfortunes