Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A.* (1723-1792)
Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A.* (1723-1792)

Portrait of Angelica Kauffmann, half length in white wearing a red shawl

Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A.* (1723-1792)
Reynolds, J.
Portrait of Angelica Kauffmann, half length in white wearing a red shawl
oil on canvas
30 x 25in. (76.2 x 63.5cm.)
The Earl Spencer, Althorp, England (their collector's seal on the reverse).
with E.V. Thaw, New York, from whom purchased by the present owner on Jan. 5, 1983.
E. Waterhouse, Reynolds, 1955, p. 68.
N. Penny, in the catalogue of the exhibition, Reynolds, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1986, p. 340.
Sale room notice
Additional literature:
Lady V. Manners and Dr. G.C. Williamson, Angelica Kauffmann, R.A.: Her Life and Works, 1924, p.219.

Lot Essay

The present painting is one of at least three autograph versions of portraits of Angelica Kauffmann by Sir Joshua Reynolds. Another was formerly in the Metternich-Winneburg'sche collection, Vienna, and the composition was engraved in an oval format by Francesco Bartolozzi in 1780 (for the latter, see A. Rosenthal, Angelika Kauffmann, 1996, p. 185, fig. 44). Reynolds in turn was painted by Kauffmann in a remarkably informal and personal three-quarter length portrait dated 1767, now belonging to the National Trust, Saltram (Morley Collection); see, for instance, the catalogue of the exhibition, Reynolds, London, Royal Academy of Arts, 1986, p. 339, no. 169, illustrated.

Angelica Kauffmann was born in Switzerland in 1741, and traveled to Italy once she had established her career as an artist. She was in Rome in 1763, where she attracted the admiration of many of the English grand tourists, and painted the portraits of luminaries such as Johann Joachim Winckelmann (Kunsthaus, Zurich). She was accepted into the Accademia di San Luca at the precocious age of twenty-three. After the death of Pompeo Girolamo Batoni in 1787, Kauffmann was the most famous and most successful living painter in Rome, and a central figure in Roman society. The likes of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Johann Gottfried Herder spent much time with her during their Italian sojourns, as did the Grand Duchess Anna Amelia of Saxe-Weimar. In 1765 and 1766 she exhibited at the Free Society of Artists, and arrived in London in the latter year, where she became a founder-member (and the first woman member) of the Royal Academy. Kauffmann had chosen a propitious time to come to England, as London, since the early reign of George III, was second only to Rome as the artistic center of Neo-Classicism.

In a letter dated October 10, 1766, Kauffmann describes Reynolds as one of her 'kindest friends' who 'is never done of praising me to everyone'. Further, she adds that 'as proof of his admiration for me, he has asked me to sit for my picture to him, and, in return, I am to paint him'. It may be that the first sitting to him was on June 30, 1766, when 'Miss Angelica' appears in his pocket-book but with no time. Or, once more, on October 1, when her name appears again, this time with the word 'Fiori' added next to them, again with no time indicated. On October 17, there is an entry for 'Miss Angel' which it is tempting to suggest may be an abbreviation for the same person.

It was heavily rumored at the time that Sir Joshua and Angelica were sharing more than just a mutual artistic admiration of each others work, and that she forgot her former attachment to Nathaniel Dance (who drew a rather cruel, satirical sketch of the older Sir Joshua with a youthful Angelica, now in the collection of the Earl of Harewood), and rejected the passionate advances of Fuseli in anticipation of Reynolds's proposal. The friendship, however intimate, did not deter Kauffmann from marrying in November 1767 an adventurer-scoundrel named Brandt, who had been masquerading in London society as the Swedish 'Count de Horn'; although she is again recorded in Reynolds's pocket-book at three o'clock on Sunday November 26, 1769 and at twelve o'clock on December 14, the same year. Her name also appears in his pocket-book on June 3, 1773, on Sunday February 1, 1777 and at nine o'clock on October 20 and 26, 1777.

Kauffmann died in Rome on November 5, 1807, and the final tribute paid to her at her funeral, which was arranged by Antonio Canova and attended by representatives from both the Roman and foreign academies, was the carrying along in triumph of two of her own works, in obvious emulation of Raphael's funeral.