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      Painting Prodigy Angelika Kauffmann

      Angelika Kauffmann’s biography has all the elements necessary for a person to achieve cult-status.

    Painting Prodigy Angelika Kauffmann

    Angelika Kauffmann’s biography has all the elements necessary for a person to achieve cult-status. Talent and ambition, a full-blown scandal, glamour and a jet-set life, albeit with horse and carriage.

    Angelika Kauffmann, Selbstbildnis in Bregenzerwälder Tracht, 1781
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    „The whole world is Angelicamad!“

    By the time the highly talented, cosmopolitan painter Angelika Kauffmann opened an art studio, she was in her mid-twenties and had already traveled extensively to the art centers of Italy. Soon, the whole world would become „angelicamad.”

    Just as Mozart’s musical father, Kauffmann’s father, also a painter, had recognised his daughter’s talent early and fostered it as much as possible. Born in 1741, she was only 16 when she painted the wall frescoes of the church in Schwarzenberg in Bregenzerwald, the village from which her father’s family hailed and which she regarded as her home.

    •                         Angelika Kauffmann, Porträt: Josef Johann Kauffmann, 1763
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      Father Josef Johann Kauffmann, 1763

    •                         Thomas Burke after Angelika Kauffmann, Kauffmann with the Muse Clio 1787
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      Angelika Kauffmann with the Muse Clio, 1787

    •                         Angelika Kauffmann, Selbstporträt mit Notenblatt, 1753
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      Angelika, Self Portrait with Sheet Music, 12 years

    • Unconventional, married, broke

      Kauffmann’s portraits, which were exactly geared towards the taste of her contemporaries, were especially sought after. Everyone who was someone went to „Miss Angel“ and commissioned a portrait. Soon, the artist earned a considerable income and her studio - wherever she set it up - became a meeting point for the high-society. As educated, well connected and glamorous as she appeared, as inexperienced she was when it came to matters of the heart: in 1767, she married a con-artist. Three months after her wedding, she was divorced and had lost her entire fortune. Enough material for a major scandal.

    • It took many years until she agreed to a second marriage, this time with the considerably older painter Antonio Zucchi. Remarkably, he neglected his own career to manage his rich and talented wife. To maintain her artistic independence, Kauffmann refused all offers to work at court and focussed on commissions from czars, emperors, the pope, rich burghers and banking dynasties. She determined her pay and the motifs. She painted in Rome, London, Napoli, Venice and Florence.

    • Merchandising with „Miss Angel“

      Every modern household had at least an etching of her work decorating their sitting room. Motifs from Angelika Kaufmann’s paintings are used for porcelain services or decorative plates as late as the 19th and even the 20th century. This is in large part due to the cult around her vibrant personality. Even Goethe, who counted her among his friends, admired her as „Wunderweib“ (wonder woman). Even her funeral in Rome, in 1807, was glamorous.

    In the 18th century, it became fashionable for young men from aristocracy and wealthy gentry to embark on a grand tour of Europe. These travelers liked to bring home a portrait as a souvenir and whoever could afford it went to the best artist: Angelika Kauffmann. And so it happened that the Austrian artist sold her portraits to the entire world. The popularity of the „Grand Tour“ also fueled the popularity of the Alps as a travel destination. Whoever traverses the Alps in Austria and appreciates their natural beauty will come across traces of the world of Angelika Kaufmann and her contemporaries.

    Interview with Thomas Hirtenfelder

    Thomas Hirtenfelder, himself a native of the Bregenzerwald region, is an expert on art and culture who lives in Bregenz. Since 2017, he has been independent curator for the Angelika-Kauffmann-Museum in Schwarzenberg. He has agreed to take us on a tour of the famous artist’s homeland.

    austria.info: Where in Austria can one see works by Angelika Kauffmann?
    Thomas Hirtenfelder: The most significant location is definitely Schwarzenberg in the Bregenzerwald. At the Baroque church, the artist is present through the Apostel frescoes she created at the young age of 16, as well as the altarpiece which was dedicated to the church in 1802. You can see original works by the artist at the Angelika-Kauffmann-Museum in Schwarzenberg, which was opened in 2007. The largest collection of her works worldwide is located at the vorarlberg museum in Bregenz. Other important works, such as the famous self portrait in traditional Bregenzerwald costume from 1781, can be admired at the Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum in Innsbruck.
    austria.info: Which towns or events would you recommend for walking in Angelika Kauffmann’s footsteps and for getting a sense of what her time was like?
    Thomas Hirtenfelder: The historic center of the village Schwarzenberg has essentially stayed the same since the 18th century. With the famous old inns like the “Hirschen,” which was built in 1755 and is a boutique hotel today, it preserved a sense of Angelika Kaufmann’s era. The Angelika-Kauffmann-Museum, which was opened in 2007 in a historic Bregenzerwald house, hosts a new exhibition and numerous events every year which convey the spirit of the region’s famous daughter. At the Angelika-Kauffmann-Saal in Schwarzenberg, the internationally renowned Schubertiade music festival is held annually.
    austria.info: Which locations, buildings or landscapes are good examples for the ideals and preferences of the rising bourgeoisie during the enlightenment period? In other words, which ones were particularly celebrated in Austria during Kauffmann’s time?
    Thomas Hirtenfelder: Classicism, with its flair for Antiquity and its striving for learnedness, also left its mark on the Habsburg Monarchy. Important buildings from Angelika Kauffmann’s time are, for example, the Triumphal Arch in Innsbruck or the Theseus Temple in Vienna’s Volksgarten. The latter was originally the backdrop for a Theseus sculpture by Antonio Canova. Canova was a famous sculptor, contemporary and friend of Kauffmann and worked at the construction site himself.
    austria.info: When you travel through the Bregenzerwald, which locations do you personally seek out for inspiration?
    Thomas Hirtenfelder: In my opinion, the most beautiful approach to the Bregenzerwald is from Dornbirn via the Bödele. On the pass and along the idyllic hiking trails, you can enjoy truly magnificent mountain vistas. On the other side, views extend as far as the Rhine Valley and Lake Constance. Since my earliest childhood, I have enjoyed many wonderful moments here. Even today, I still like to come back here to relax and find inspiration for new exhibition ideas.
    austria.info: Do you have any tips for special culinary experiences in the Bregenzerwald region?
    Thomas Hirtenfelder: If you want to experience a culinary “Gesamtkunstwerk,” the KäseStrasse Bregenzerwald combines nature, culture and delicious local specialties. In any case, you haven’t really been to the Bregenzerwald if you haven’t tasted Käsknöpfle – our Käsespätzle – ideally combined with the unparalleled nature experience of the region around Schönebach near Bizau.

    Recommendations from Thomas Hirtenfelder

    Angelika Kauffmann: Stations of her Life

    Angelika Kauffmann, Selbstporträt mit Notenblatt, 1753
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    1741: Year of her birth. Her father, also a painter, hailed from Schwarzenberg in the Bregenzerwald, her mother from Switzerland. Kauffmann spent her childhood and youth in Milano, Como.

    1753: Kauffmann painted her first self-portrait as a singer. She also had considerable musical talent.

    1757: Her mother’s death. Kauffmann returned to Schwarzenberg with her father, where he worked as fresco painter on the newly rebuilt church. His daughter worked on 13 Apostel paintings for it.

    1760 to 1762: Stay in Milano, Modena and Florence, where she studied antiquity and the old masters.

    1762: She became an honorary member of the Accademia Clementina di Bologna and completed her diploma at the Accademia del Disegno ab.

    1763: Stay in Napoli and Ischia, afterwards she lives with her father in Rome. There she specializes in portraits of famous travelers, most of them from England.

    Angelika Kauffmann, Selbstbildnis in Bregenzerwälder Tracht, 1781
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    In 1766 she settled in London where, in 1768, she was one of the founding members of the Royal Academy of Arts. Her studio is a meeting point for the high society.

    In 1767, she lost her fortune after marrying a con-man.

    In 1781, she married Antonio Zucchi, who managed her from then on.

    1782: the pair moved to Rome. As in London, artists, intellectuals and aristocrats mingle at their studio.

    1807: Kauffmann died in Rome. In the same year, a bust of her graces Rome’s Pantheon.

    In 2007, the Angelika-Kauffmann-Museum opened in Schwarzenberg.

    Also of interest:

    •                 Umgang Bregenzerwald
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      Costumes of the Bregenzerwald

      According to legend, the women of the Bregenzerwald marched bravely towards their attackers. When they saw the women approaching in their white clothes, the attackers turned and ran; they took the women to be angels. Since then, the women of Bregenzerwald wear dark skirts to avoid being mistaken for otherworldly beings.

      Read more
    •                 Rund um Au, Bregenzerwald
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      The Elegance of Wood

      In the construction traditions of other countries, it may be fine stones and hand-made tiles - in Vorarlberg, that status is given to wood. In the Bregenzerwald region, the knowledge about this age-old building material is being preserved and applied with a contemporary twist.

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