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

Self-Portrait Holding a Portrait of Her Sister

Pastel on paper, 71 x 57 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

Sources describe Rosalba Carriera as reticent: chaste, bourgeois, worthy pleasant enough in her manner, but with something of the old maid about her. In 1746 an eye complaint forced her to abandon her career, and the end of her life was marked by deep depression.

The artist's self-portrait, dating from 1715, gives us some inkling of the many sides of her personality. The picture was commissioned by the house of Medici, in whose Florentine portrait gallery the already famous painter was to take her place. We see her slightly inclining to one side, her gaze confidently directed towards us. While the smile on her lips is barely noticeable, the friendly eyes are a little serious. In her left hand the painter is holding a "picture within a picture", on which she is placing a brush with her right hand. In this way she is presenting to us her sister Giovanna, who was so to speak the unmarried artist's alter ego and housekeeper. Only with her help could Rosalba Carriera carry out her portrait commissions as she did.

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