Happy Birthday, Angelica Kauffman!

Posted in anniversaries, books, Member News, reviews by Editor on October 30, 2009

Angelica Kauffman turns 268 today. The following comes from Meredith Martin’s 2007 review of Angela Rosenthal’s book on the artist. From caa.reviews:

Angela Rosenthal, Angelica Kauffman: Art and Sensibility (New Haven: Yale University Press in association with Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2005) 352 pages, $65.

Reviewed by Meredith Martin, Assistant Professor, Wellesley College; posted 1 May 2007.


Cover Image: Angelica Kauffman, "Self-Portrait," detail, 1784 (Munich: Bayerische Staatgemäldesammlung Neue Pinakothek)

Rosenthal’s monograph restores Kauffman’s own work to center stage. Her project is not simply one of “historical recovery,” for as the author notes, “unlike some other female artists, [Kauffman] never fully lost her position within the art-historical canon” (2). Generally speaking, Kauffman’s story is not one of isolation or exclusion, but rather of strong support, widespread influence, and international renown. One need only glance at her voluminous, multilingual correspondence with the leading cultural figures of eighteenth-century Europe—Goethe, Johann Caspar Lavater, and Izabella Czartoryska among them—to get a sense of the professionally rewarding and breathlessly glamorous life that Kauffman led. Zoffany’s painting notwithstanding, Angelica Kauffman was nobody’s wallflower. . .

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Angela Rosenthal is associate professor at Dartmouth. She specializes in early modern European visual culture (especially British art within a global perspective), with an emphasis on cultural history, gender studies, feminist and post-colonial theory, and the history of art criticism. She studied art history, psychology and social anthropology at Trier University, Germany and in the UK (The Courtauld Institute of Art, University College London, and Westfield College). Before joining the faculty at Dartmouth College in 1997, she was curator of contemporary art at the Stadtgalerie in Saarbrücken (1994-95), and Andrew W. Mellon Assistant Professor of Art History at Northwestern University (1995-97). Rosenthal’s most recent research project emerged from her past work on the visual formulation of subjectivity, as well as from her engagement with contemporary post-colonial art theory. In this new book project, entitled The White of Enlightenment: Racializing Bodies in 18th-Century British Visual Culture, Rosenthal seek to complement the growing field of research on concepts of “race” and “ethnicity” in the visual arts.

Meredith Martin joined the Wellesley faculty in 2008. She received a BA in Art History from Princeton University in 1997 and a PhD in the History of Art and Architecture from Harvard University in 2006. Her research interests include: eighteenth- and nineteenth-century French visual and material culture, architectural theory and landscape design; gender, space, and the domestic interior; early neo-classicism; art and colonialism; and the historiography of the Rococo. She is the co-author, with Scott Rothkopf, of Period Eye: Karen Kilimnik’s Fancy Pictures (Serpentine Gallery/Koenig Books, 2007). Her book, Dairy Queens: Pastoral Architecture and Political Theater from Catherine de’ Medici to Marie-Antoinette, is forthcoming from Harvard University Press, and she is also co-editing a volume with Denise Baxter entitled Architecture Space in Eighteenth-Century Europe: Constructing Identities and Interiors to be published by Ashgate next spring. Her current research addresses diplomatic and material exchanges between France and India in the late eighteenth century.

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