Saturday, January 3, 2009

Carriera: Examining The Unexplainable

Rosalba Carriera - Self-Portrait - Gallerie dell'Accademia

Ok, ok, so maybe I can’t completely explain why this painting blows me away – here goes anyway!

I first met this painting at the tender age of 17 or so. It was reproduced in the first art book I ever possessed. The artist is Rosalba Carriera and she lived from 1675 to 1757.

First of all, I was amazed that it was painted so long ago. Second of all, I was surprised that it was done by a woman and last of all, I couldn’t believe it was done in pastel.

Three misconceptions about art blown away by one painting!

1. ‘Old art’ could be interesting (remember that I was still a teenager).
2. Women artists did exist (and therefore maybe I could be one too).
3. This wasn’t done in oils? – How could that be?

You know what? I’m still amazed by her work! Don’t you want to invite this person over for a cuppa tea and ask her about her life, her times, her painting? I do!

That is Rosalba’s magic (we’re on a first name basis by now). Yes, some of her portraits are rather fluffed up and powdered by today’s standards, but they glow with humanity – they are real and they reach us across almost 300 years to entice us and tease us … and enlighten us. Thanks, Rosalba.

Gail Sauter - Journal: A Painter On Painting

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