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Rosalba Carriera was born in Venice on October 7, 1675, the daughter of Angelo Carriera. She showed her artistic talent at an early age by making designs for lace; she then turned her attention to decorations of snuff-boxes. She became a pupil of Guiseppe Diamentine and Antonio Balestra but her style was mainly inspired by works of Pietro Liberi. She painted at first in oil, but her reputation was gained from her miniatures and crayon portraits. In 1705 she was elected a member of the Academy at Rome; in 1720 a member of the Academy of Bologna and a member of the Florentine Academy. She was famous throughout Europe for her pastel portraits and is credited with introducing the pastel portrait into France. In 1720 she visited Paris for a year where she painted many distinguished royal portraits.
A talented violinist as well, she was sought after socially by the art and royal world of Paris. Her patrons included Emperor Charles VI, Maximilian II of Bavaria, Louis XV, Augustus III, King of Poland and others. She was elected to the Royal Academy of Painting.
Never a pretty woman, she was charming, graceful and modest. She returned to Venice in 1721 and was kept constantly busy with portraits. Her work was so much in demand that her sister Giovanna assisted her in backgrounds and drapery. Rosalba gradually lost her sight and another sister Angela cared for her until her death. She died in Venice on April 15, 1757.
Her works still are admired but the delicate tints have faded and her faulty drawing and affected style are only too apparent. A medal was struck in her honor by the Holy Roman Emperor.
Written and submitted by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.
Dictionary of Women Artists, Chris Petteys