Rosalba Carriera: A Portrait of Elegance and Artistry

Rosalba Carriera, a prominent 18th-century Italian artist, is hailed for her exquisite portraits and captivating pastel works. Born on October 7, 1675, in Venice, Italy, Carriera’s artistic talent and dedication to her craft made her a trailblazer in the world of Rococo portraiture.

Portrait of King Louis XV

Rosalba Carriera’s “Portrait of King Louis XV” stands as a testament to her exceptional skill in the medium of pastels and her ability to capture the regal essence of her subjects. Completed in the early 18th century, this masterpiece not only showcases Carriera’s technical prowess but also highlights her ability to convey the grandeur and elegance of the French monarchy during the Rococo period.

In this portrait, King Louis XV is depicted in full regalia, exuding an air of confidence and authority. He is adorned in the opulent attire of the French court, complete with a richly embroidered coat and the Order of the Holy Spirit, a prestigious order of chivalry. Carriera pays meticulous attention to the intricate details of the king’s garments, showcasing her ability to capture the sumptuousness of the royal wardrobe. Carriera’s portrayal of the king serves not only as a representation of his physical likeness but also as a reflection of the ideals and aspirations of the French monarchy of that period. The portrait can be viewed at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon in France.

Self-Portrait (1715) holding a portrait of her sister Giovanna

One of Carriera’s most celebrated works is her self-portrait created in 1715. This masterpiece provides a glimpse into the artist’s skillful rendering of delicate features and an impeccable attention to detail. The self-portrait exudes an air of elegance and confidence, showcasing Carriera’s ability to capture not only physical likeness but also the essence of her subjects. Her use of soft, muted tones in this pastel painting exemplifies the Rococo style, emphasizing grace and refinement.

Allegory of Painting (1720)

“Allegory of Painting” is a testament to Carriera’s mastery in allegorical portraiture. This painting, created in 1720, symbolizes the essence of art itself. Carriera skilfully intertwines classical elements, such as the muse Clio, with her signature Rococo style, featuring flowing fabrics and delicate brushwork. The piece encapsulates the artist’s ability to infuse her portraits with a sense of narrative and artistic vision.

Rosalba Carriera was renowned for her adept use of pastels, a medium that became synonymous with her name. Her proficiency in this delicate medium allowed her to create portraits with a level of finesse and subtlety that set her apart from her contemporaries. Additionally, Carriera was skilled in using oil paints, as evidenced by her portraits like the one of Maximilian II Emanuel. This versatility in mediums showcased her adaptability and innovation in the realm of portraiture.

Life and Inspirations

Carriera’s upbringing in Venice, a city steeped in artistic legacy, undoubtedly played a significant role in shaping her artistic inclinations. Her exposure to the works of Venetian masters and the vibrant cultural milieu of the city fueled her passion for art. Carriera’s dedication to her craft led her to become the first woman to be admitted to the Accademia di San Luca, a prestigious artists’ academy in Rome.

Her innovative use of pastels and her ability to infuse her portraits with a sense of grace and sophistication earned her patrons and admirers from across Europe. Her work was greatly influenced by the Rococo movement, characterised by its emphasis on ornate decoration and delicate aesthetics.


Today, the works of Rosalba Carriera can be admired in various museums and galleries worldwide. Some of her most renowned pieces are housed in the Louvre Museum in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the National Gallery in London, among others. Her legacy as a pioneering female artist continues to inspire generations of aspiring painters, and her contributions to the art world remain an indelible part of its history.

In conclusion, Rosalba Carriera’s artistic brilliance and trailblazing spirit continue to captivate art enthusiasts around the globe. Through her exquisite portraits and mastery of pastels, she left an indelible mark on the world of Rococo art. Today, her legacy stands tall in the halls of renowned museums, a testament to the enduring power of her artistic vision.

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