- Rosalba Carriera (Italian, 1673–1757)
- Pastel on blue laid paper, mounted on laminated paper board; 600 × 500 mm
- The Art Institute of Chicago
Rosalba Carriera was born in Venice in 1673 to a lawyer and a lace maker. She began her career painting decorative objects and rose to international renown as a portraitist in Italy, Germany, France, and England. Though she did travel a bit, her fame was such that a visit to her studio became an obligatory aspect for visitors to Venice as they made their way around Europe on the Grand Tour. She became especially famous for her work in pastel, which allowed for relatively swift execution, and did not require drying time. She was a savvy self-marketer, and a successful businesswoman.
During the 1700s she was deemed “the most talented female artist of our century,” so famous that she was referred to by her first name only. Today, however, she is little known outside Venice, despite the attribution to her of more than seven hundred surviving artworks. These works—which include miniatures painted on ivory and oil paintings, as well as pastels—are held in museums and collections all over the world, including Dresden’s Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, the Hermitage, the Royal Collection Trust, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Getty, the National Gallery of Art, the Frick Collection, the Met, the National Gallery of Ireland, the Louvre, the National Gallery of Denmark, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Uffizi, Ca’Rezzonica, and many more.
Learn more about Carriera’s painting A Young Lady with a Parrot: The Art Institute of Chicago
Current, upcoming and recent exhibitions focusing on Rosalba Carriera:
In 2023—in honor of the 350th anniversary of the artist’s birth—Dresden’s Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Picture Gallery) presents the solo exhibition Elegant Encounters: Rosalba Carriera—Pastel Perfection. With 73 Carriera pastels, Dresden owns the largest concentration in the world of works by this artist. This exhibition runs through September 24, 2023.
From June 1, 2023, the Frick Collection will debut Nicolas Party and Rosalba Carriera, a site-specific pastel mural by Swiss-born artist Nicolas Party (b. 1980). It will be executed in the Italian Galleries at the museum’s temporary home, Frick Madison. The work will be created in response to Rosalba Carriera’s Portrait of a Man in Pilgrim’s Costume, bequeathed to the Frick in 2020 by Alexis Gregory. It will be on view until February 2024.
Current, upcoming and recent exhibitions including work by Rosalba Carriera:
Women Masters, Old and Modern; Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Spain. October 31, 2023–February 4, 2024.
Making Her Mark: A History of Women Artists in Europe, 1400–1800; Baltimore Museum of Art. October 1, 2023–January 7, 2024. This show moves in February 2024 to the Art Gallery of Ontario.
Pastel Portraits: Drawn from Life? J. Paul Getty Museum. March 14–September 17, 2023.
Muse or Maestra? Women in the Italian Art World, 1400–1800; Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin, Germany. March 8, 2023–June 4, 2023.
Pastel Revealed; National Gallery of Ireland. February 24–June 5, 2023.
In 2021–22, the Wadsworth Atheneum and the Detroit Institute of Arts collaborated to present By Her Hand: Artemisia Gentileschi and Women Artists in Italy, 1500–1800. The show ran in Hartford from September 30, 2021 to January 9, 2022. It opened in Detroit on February 6, 2022, where it ran through May 29, 2022. Read the Art Herstory review of the Hartford iteration of the exhibition here.
Books about Rosalba Carriera
Rosalba Carriera, by Angela Oberer (Lund Humphries, 2023; North American edition published by Getty Publications, 2023)
The Life and Work of Rosalba Carriera (1673–1757): The Queen of Pastel, by Angela Oberer
Learn more online about Rosalba Carriera
Guest posts on the Art Herstory blog:
Rosalba Carriera at the Frick Collection, by Xavier F. Salomon
“I feel again the violence of a curious desire”: Rare client testimonies on Rosalba Carriera’s erotic art, by Angela Oberer
Neil Jeffares’ Dictionary of pastellists before 1800: Explore >
National Museum of Women in the Arts: Explore >
Daily Art Magazine: Explore >
The Getty Museum: Explore >
The Royal Collection Trust: Explore >
The National Gallery London: Explore >
Hyperallergic: Explore >
Brooklyn Museum: Explore >