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Who was Rosalba Carriera?

Rosalba Carriera began her career as a painter of miniatures but gradually specialised more and more in the production of pastel portraits. This is probably her final self-portrait, executed shortly before the onset of blindness in 1746; a contempora

A Self-Portrait ©

The Venetian artist Rosalba Giovanna Carriera (1675–1757) was celebrated for developing the art of pastel portraiture. Carriera was a pioneer of the pastel technique and created hundreds of pastel portraits, allegories and personifications that captivated her audiences, including many Grand Tourists who visited her studio in Venice. Carriera had an unusual ability to represent textures and patterns using pastels. Her works remain very popular today, although they are rarely exhibited due to their fragility and sensitivity to light.

This self-portrait was made in about 1745 as a gift to the agent and dealer, Consul Joseph Smith. Carriera's self-portrait shows the artist looking directly out at the viewer, projecting an image of confidence and prestige that reflects the extraordinary celebrity she achieved in her career. This work was one of the last Carriera was able to produce before she suffered from the onset of blindness. Smith's collection was bought by George III in 1762 and the pastel is now in the Royal Collection.