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Rosalba Carriera: the woman of pastels

Updated: Sep 7, 2021

Few are aware of it, but pastel painting, my favorite technique, gained notoriety in Italy and Europe in the 18th century thanks to a very talented woman and artist: Rosalba Carriera.

It is even said that she was the first ever painter in Europe.

She was a pastelist, she painted on commission for monarchs and nobles, she had her atelier with pupils and assistants and, among the things that strike me most, she produced her own pastels. There is even a manual in which you explain how to make them.

Autoritratto da vecchia (1746)

We are in the 70s of XVI century in Venice; it is in this city that Rosalba Carriera was born, she studied painting with various local masters. Around 1703 we have the first certain news of her pastel works, the technique that will make Rosalba famous and in great demand throughout Europe.

When I first heard Rosalba Carriera mention "Wow ..." Not only is the person who spread this extraordinary painting technique Italian, but she is also a woman. I think it is a very important fact, both for the history of pastel and for the history of art.

Rosalba has painted more than 300 works including portraits, allegories and religious subjects.

She used pastel in a delicate way, giving the paintings grace and lightness.

The portrait of the Crown Prince of Saxony is perhaps my favorite painting. Look at the use of blues, which envelop and generate the figure at the same time. The skilful work on the damask of the young prince's jacket. That hand ... and the fluffy, soft hair.

I find it magnificent.

Il principe ereditario Friedrich Christian di Sassonia
Il principe ereditario Friedrich Christian di Sassonia (1739)

Another fact that I find interesting is that Rosalba was one of the few artists of the past who was not a daughter of art. She studied, she struggled and with her passion she managed to overcome the skepticisms and insidious obstacles of the time. She has built her strength for herself.

This is something that belongs to me and in which I have always believed: to build one's strength through hard work, without asking for the favor of others or exploiting reflected lights. A warrior, an explorer, a daring one, a seeker, as I see it, is someone who struggles and does not need support or encouragement, nor to be supported with actions or words. All he needs is to Believe.

Rosalba was in control of her own actions and business,

A very modern aspect of her life, which you have rightly insisted on in recent years, is that she did not abdicate control of her career. She never had a real patron, which allowed her to maintain the most complete autonomy. For this reason she has even been called a "businesswoman"

In an evolving world, where the role of women is finally being brought into play like never before, I want to help ensure that figures like Rosalba's step out of the shadows and find the position and prominence they deserve in history. of humanity.

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