(b. 1675, Venezia, d. 1757, Venezia)

Cardinal Melchior de Polignac

c. 1732
Pastel on paper, 57 x 46 cm
Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

A sister-in-law of Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini, Rosalba Carriera achieves the same airy lightness of touch as her relative in her portraits. These were done in pastel and in them she explored the finest shadings of her subjects' characters, the most fleeting of their moods. Thus, without falling either into the dangers of the encomiastic portrait or of the documentary, Rosalba matches the immediacy of pastel technique to the freshness of her psychological and social penetration of her subjects, offering an unrivalled picture of the society of her time. In the Elderly Lady the mature beauty of the noblewoman and her serene good-natured existence are conveyed with incomparable skill.

Typical of her work is the portrait of Cardinal Melchior de Polignac with its superb rendering of the physical features of the subject, catching immediately the wilful character of the prelate.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.