A Muse

Object Details

Title:

A Muse

Artist/Maker(s):

Rosalba Carriera (Italian, 1673 - 1757)

Culture:

Italian

Date:

mid-1720s

Medium:

Pastel on laid blue paper

Dimensions:

31 x 26 cm (12 3/16 x 10 1/4 in.)

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This alluring muse gracefully turns her head to the left, exposing a seductive neck and tender pink earlobe. Transparent gauze covers her shoulders. Rosalba Carriera rendered the porcelain skin, flushed cheeks, and wavy hair with subtly blended pastel colors, creating a soft, velvety surface. The intense contrast between the ivory flesh and dark background imbues the divine creature with radiance. This delicate head crowned by soft curls and an ivy wreath was one of many idealized images Carriera made called teste di fantasia –a kind of fanciful rendering of a beautiful woman with a mythological or allegorical appearance. Celebrated throughout Europe for her mastery of pastel, Carriera likely created this image for Augustus III, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland.

Provenance

Frederick Augustus III, elector of Saxony and King of Poland, 1696 - 1763, [or a member of his court, presumably purchased directly from the artist]

Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister

Private Collection, [United Kingdom, since 1973]

1921

Hugo Helbing, Munich, [exchanged for a portrait of Mrs. Schäuffelen by Hans von Marées]

July 8, 2002

Bonhams (London), [lot 96]

October 2002

Thomas Williams Fine Art Ltd., purchase

Exhibitions
Casting Characters: Portraits and Studies of Heads (November 4, 2003 to February 1, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), November 4, 2003 to February 1, 2004, (Cat.)
Light and Water: Drawing in Eighteenth-Century Venice (May 17 to August 21, 2005)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), June 1 to August 22, 2004, (Cat.)
Ten Years of Drawings: What, How, and Why (January 29 to May 4, 2008)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), January 29 to May 4, 2008, (Cat.)
Gods and Heroes: European Drawings of Classical Mythology (November 19, 2013 to February 9, 2014)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), November 19, 2013 to February 9, 2014, (Cat.)