Angelica Kaufman, a German artist of the XVIII century. You can safely put on a par with the most famous representatives of classicism. Now her name is not well known to the general public, but at one time she was a very famous artist. “My portrait for one friend was made by an exceptional person, one German artist. She is very strong in portraits … Her name is Angelica Kaufman,” was the opinion of her famous German historian, Winckelmann. She was admired by Goethe, Derzhavin devoted odes to her:
The painter is glorious,
Kaufman, girlfriend muses!
If your brush is influenced
Above liveliness, feeling, taste,
And, having written off the Danaev, the ancients
Us goddesses and red wives,
Survive in their priceless
You could pictures ashes –
It was considered prestigious to order her a portrait, among her customers were Potemkin’s niece, the famous beauty Countess Skavronskaya, and Emperor Paul I with her wife, and even Catherine II. Who is she, a woman, in the XVIII century, when the lot of women were, as they said in Germany, “kitchen, church, children”, accepted into the ranks of the most prestigious art academies of that time? On the self-portrait, we see a pretty serious woman, tastefully dressed in the fashion of the XVIII century. Angelica was generously bestowed by nature: the ability to music, the talent of the painter, the charming appearance and sharp mind — she was considered one of the most educated women in Europe.
How did she manage to achieve such success?
Her father, a poor German artist Johann Joseph Kaufman, saw the talent of a painter in her young daughter, and from six she works with an adult load, from nine she tries to paint in oils, and at eleven she receives the first order. At the age when other girls play dolls, she sells her paintings from Italy’s rich villas to help the family, and 12 admire the whole Milan court with her portraits. Young Angelika has not only the talent of the painter, but also impeccable hearing and voice. But in those days, the singer’s career was considered sinful, and her father made his choice in favor of painting. True, singing also attracts Angelika, with time she will write a picture: her name is two muses, Music and Painting, but the girl leans towards the second. True in her youth, she did not avoid hesitation: her first love, a musician, incited her to leave the tyrant father, leave with him and become a singer. But Angelika was an obedient daughter and stayed with her father. Only the painting “Orpheus and Eurydice,” in which Orpheus has the face of beloved Angelica, reminds of a bygone love. Having finally made a choice in favor of painting, she devoted herself entirely to work. At that time it was fashionable to depict doll beauties in the form of shepherds in the lap of nature, and Angelika writes pastorals. One of the testimonies of the recognition of her talent is the fact that the very young Kaufman, the only woman, was allowed to copy the works of great masters in the Milan Gallery. After the death of the mother, the family briefly moved to Austria. There is no demand for shepherds in Austria and Kaufman makes frescoes in the parish church.
She often moves, after Milan goes to Austria, then moves to Rome and enjoys antiquity. A significant role was played in this by the German historian Winkelmann, famous for his excavations under Pompeii. The portrait of Winckelmann, by Kaufman, art critic Hanne Gagel, is considered more psychological than other Winckelmann images, as he “emphasizes not so much the official facade, but the internal properties of the depicted face”. Professional recognition Kaufman received in 1765, when at the age of 24 she was admitted to the Academy of St. Luke in Rome, and three years later – the Royal French Academy.
In Rome, Angelika meets many Englishmen and in 1766 goes to London, where she will have a tremendous success. A young, beautiful talented artist becomes the favorite of the royal family, in salons she conquers many men, Reynolds himself, president of the English Academy of Arts, invites Angelika to become his wife. But Angelika refuses. There was no shortage of fans, and finally her heart was conquered by Count Horn. Even a girl accustomed to praise, the compliments of a secular lion turn their heads – the count is buying paintings for fabulous money. Soon Horn makes Angelika proposal. Of course, such a party is flattering to the daughter of a poor German artist, and despite the dissatisfaction of his father, who immediately disliked the future son-in-law, she gives consent. Soon, Horn secretly appears to the bride and reports terrible news – he was falsely accused of a political offense, and only immediate marriage with Angelica, who is in great favor with the queen, can save him. The young naive girl did not suspect deception and they quickly got married. Subsequently, it turned out that her husband, an adventurer living under different names, was sent to her by a rejected admirer. The alleged Horn made scandals, did not come home, and soon the marriage was declared invalid. But this personal tragedy forced the artist to withdraw and limit her circle of contacts to her closest acquaintances. In London, she lived for 15 years, creating paintings on biblical and mythological themes and participating in the life of the English Academy.