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A spotlight on outstanding women artists and their works in the Royal Collection

Angelica Kauffmann (1741-1807)

Augusta, Duchess of Brunswick (1737-1813) with her son Charles George Augustus (1766-1806) Signed and dated 1767

RCIN 405359

Silk Tapestry Room, Buckingham Palace

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Angelica Kauffmann was trained by her father, a decorative and portrait painter who travelled with his work, and so she spent her early years in Italy, Switzerland and Austria. In 1762 she was accepted as a member of Florence’s prestigious art academy, one of only a handful of women to be admitted up to that point. Six years later Kauffman, who settled in England between 1766 and 1781, became one of the two female founding members of the Royal Academy.

This portrait was presumably commissioned by Augusta, Princess of Wales, the sitter’s mother. Kauffmann had been much sought after by female patrons in Paris, which may be why she was selected by Augusta.

A pen and ink drawing of Helen and Venus in classical dress seated in a tent; Cupid with his bow leads Paris towards them. The scene outlined with a pen line cutting off part of the composition to the left. Two numbers [indistinct] at lower

Venus inducing Helen to fall in love with Paris


Many of her drawings that are now in the Royal Collection, such as Venus inducing Helen to fall in love with Paris, shown here, reflect her activity as a history painter, an unusual genre for a female artist. While women faced significant barriers to studying anatomy at this time, Kauffman found ways to improve her knowledge of the human body using classical statues and other artists’ life drawings.