E. Martini, La Pittura Veneziana del Settecento, Venice 1964, p. 200, fig. 112 (as Rosalba Carriera);
N. Jeffares, Dictionary of pastellists before 1800, Rosalba Carriera – Mythological subjects II, online version, updated May 2021, p. 9, no. J.21.1879 (as Rosalba Carriera)
The painting is accompanied by a photo-certificate by Rodolfo Pallucchini, dated 18 August 1944.
This refined pastel represents the goddess of the hunt, Diana, recognisable by her attributes of the bow and arrow. The work is characterised by the elegant and sophisticated handling of the chiaroscuro and of the half-tones revealing the sustained high quality of the work. It is distinguished by the studied mastery of Rosalba Carriera who layers pastel colour directly, generating a soft impasto while referring to only the slightest outlines drafted in pencil.
The Venetian artist explored the subject of Diana assiduously, especially during the third decade of the eighteenth century following her return from Paris. As with other allegorical themes, even in this case the artist executed more than one version, yet she never replicated herself exactly, even when repeating the same motifs. This work, datable to the artist’s full maturity, can be related to her finest allegorical figures conserved in the Gemäldegalerie, Dresden, among which, three represent the Greek goddess Diana (Gal.-Nr. P 104; Gal.-Nr. P 133; and Gal.-Nr. P. 140).
The present pastel is exemplary of the genre of ‘heads’ and ‘half-figures’, which was very popular with eighteenth-century connoisseurs and which Rosalba made her personal specialty, ‘dressing up’ her recurrent models as allegories of the Elements, of the Seasons, as goddesses or Virtues. Her choice of subjects is charged with an entirely eighteenth-century grace, often permeated with a gentle erotism. The artist’s style is distinctive for its delicacy and almost suspended atmosphere. Additionally, one of the features that made her portraiture so celebrated is her ability to penetrate the psychology and mood of her sitters, revealing their emotional state.
The success of Rosalba Carriera, one the most celebrated women painters of any age, came early and was of international scope. Sovereigns, members of the aristocracy and others competed to have their portrait painted by her, or to acquire one of her pictures. Augustus III King of Poland collected more than a hundred of her pastels which were subsequently exhibited in the Gemäldegalerie, Dresden. For the same sovereign, around 1710–1715, Carriera executed one of her very rare oil paintings (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, inv. no. 1655). It was in the particular genre of portraiture that Carriera’s work, due to its evident traits of pictorial lightness and freedom, entered the mainstream of the Rococo style, which at the close of the seventeenth century was to restore Venetian painting to a position of international importance.
The earliest records of her works in pastel date to 1703, two years later she was admitted to the Accademia di San Luca, Rome. Soon after receiving further recognition for her art with her nomination as a member of the Accademia Clementina, Bologna in 1720, the artist travelled to Paris where she was to remain until the early months of the following year. In the French capital Carriera was able to portray all the leading lights of the era, working for Louis XV of France, then still a child, and for the regent, Duke Philipp II d’Orléans. Her journey to Paris also increased her fame in Italy and in 1723 she was invited to the court in Modena to draw portraits of the d’Este princesses; the portraits of her friends and artist colleagues Marco and Sebastiano Ricci date to the following year. In 1741 she began the cycle of the Four Elements preserved in the Galleria Corsini, Rome (inv. no. 569, 570, 571 and 572): this series was completed in 1743 and can be fruitfully compared to the present painting.
Lieu et date de la vente Maîtres Anciens chez Dorotheum GmbH & Co KG
Palais Dorotheum, Dorotheergasse 17 1010 Vienne
10 novembre 2021
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