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Rosalba Carriera, Portrait of a Man

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Man
Artist Rosalba Carriera
Artist dates 1673 - 1757
Date made 1720s
Medium and support Pastel on paper
Dimensions 57.8 × 47 cm
Acquisition credit Layard Bequest, 1916
Inventory number NG3126
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Portrait of a Man
Rosalba Carriera

An unknown man looks out from this portrait with a self-assured stare. His rosy lips, soft eyes and pale, youthful complexion are framed by a curly white wig that falls down his back. It is held in place with a neat black ribbon, as was fashionable for wealthy gentleman of the time.

Carriera was not only the most celebrated pastellist of the eighteenth century, but also the most successful female artist of her generation. She had an international clientele, many of whom visited her studio in Venice while on their Grand Tour of Europe. This man, however, is likely to have actually been Venetian, as his portrait remained in that city until the late nineteenth century. Carriera probably painted it during the 1720s, when she was at the height of her career.

This is the only pastel by Carriera in the National Gallery’s collection, and one of very few works by women artists in the Gallery.

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