Angelica Kaufmann – Neoclassical Artist
The revival in enthusiasm for classical art, literature and architecture that was later to be known as the Neo-classical movement began in Rome during the mid 18th century and it could be argued that it was prompted by the love of antiquity by two friends. Johann Winkelmann (1717-1768), a German archeologist and art critic, was the first to research the differences between ancient Greek and Roman art and implement archeological categories regarding art history. Close friend Anton Mengs (1728-1779) was influenced by Winkelmann’s writing, which is evidenced in his fresco at the Villa Albani in Rome. The sensation that Mengs’ fresco Parnassus (1761), along with the influence of Winkelmann’s book History of Ancient Art circa 1764 would initiate created a movement that would eventually influence architecture, theatre, music, literature and fashion. Supporting this movement was the Age of Enlightenment fed by scientific discoveries, and the Grand Tours of Rome, Greece and the Middle East. Concurrently, Europe was experiencing political and social upheaval, leading to multiple revolutions, and class and wealth redistribution. With so much social change artists had more opportunities for study, travel and wider production including etchings, graphics and print, however, this was not necessarily the case for many women artists. This discussion will consider historic events and social changes, to supply evidence of the difficulties encountered by women artists. It will briefly cover the background of Neo-classical artist, Angelica Kaufmann (1741-1807) and analyse a selection of works to argue her standing as a recognised Neo-classical artist, influences on her work, and her determination to succeed despite substantial obstacles such as gender bias and social upheaval.