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Kauffmann, Angelika (1741 - 1807)

During the transitional period between the Baroque and the Neo-classical Ages, the Austrian province of Vorarlberg produced a painter - Angelika Kauffmann - who was to achieve both fame and popularity far beyond the borders of her homeland.

Angelika Kauffmann Museum © Adolf Bereuter
Angelika Kauffmann was born in Chur on 30th October 1741, the daughter of the church and portrait painter Joseph Johann Kauffmann and his wife Cleopha Lutz. Angelika's father was a native of Schwarzenberg, and she always regarded the Bregenzerwald in Austria's Vorarlberg region as her homeland. She felt herself to be a product of the countryside which brought forth (and continues to bring forth) so many outstanding artistic personalities.

Recognising his daughter's talents at an early age, Kauffmann devoted great energy to her artistic upbringing. He worked as a portrait painter in Morbegno in Valtellina in the years 1742 - 1752 and gave her instruction in painting himself. Later, when the family moved to Como and Milan, he found suitable teachers for her.

After her mother's death on 1st March 1757, Angelika made her home for a time in Schwarzenberg. Here she worked on the interior of the parish church, painting the twelve frescos of the Apostels. Her father had been entrusted with the task of carrying out the interior decoration of the church. The heads of the Apostles rank amongst her finest work.

There followed several years of journeying (in the company of her father), which took her to Meersburg, Tettnang, Milan, Parma, Bologna, Florence, Rome, Naples and Venice. In the course of her travels she met many of the outstanding figures in cultural and political life. Their acquaintance helped her to establish herself in both artistic and social circles.

Between 1766 and 1781 Angelika Kauffmann lived in London, where her work was enthusiastically acclaimed. She became a founder member of the Royal Academy of Arts. From 1782 until her death she lived in Italy, spending much of her time in Rome, where she achieved fame as an artist and portrait painter. She kept an open house and was host to many renowned figures of her day, including Canova, Brun, Tischbein, Goethe, Herder and Winckelmann. She painted portraits of countless famous personalities and crowned heads. Angelika Kauffmann died in Rome, childless, on 5th November 1807, and was buried beside her husband, the Venetian painter and architect Antonio Zucci, in the church of San Andrea della Fratte. A monument was erected to her in the Pantheon, the hall of fame for outstanding artists.

Just as Angelika Kauffmann mainly worked outside her homeland Vorarlberg and achieved recognition and fame abroad, so the foremost exponents of 19th century art from Bregenzerwald also left their native region to make their name elsewhere. Bregenzerwald offered too little scope for their creativity, and commissions were few and far between. Yet Bregenzerwald brought forth one outstanding artistic figure after another during the Baroque era, and it continued to do so in the century which followed. Poor though the small Bregenzerwald communities were, they gave birth to a succession of fine artists who carried the fame of their homeland out into the world. Even today, visitors from across the globe visit the region and its museums and exhibitions - the Angelika Kauffmann Museum a firm favourite.