Ariadne Abandoned by Theseus


Swiss (active in Italy and England), 1741 – 1807
Ariadne Abandoned by Theseus
Oil on canvas
25 1/8 x 35 13/16 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

When she created Ariadne Abandoned by Theseus Angelica Kauffmann would have been 33 years old. Growing up as an only child to parents who encouraged and cultivated her talents Angelica could draw, sing and speak four languages – German, Italian, French and English – (like most Swiss) from an early age. When she lost her mother at 16, she decided to give up signing and concentrate on her career as a painter.

In 1774 she would have already moved to London, a successful painter. She would socialize with nobility and paint portraits of female royalty. In 1780, she would be commissioned from the Royal Academy to execute four ceiling paintings for Somerset House (1780, Invention, Composition, Design and Colouring).

Elected a member of the Bologna art academy at just 21, and a little later of the academies in Florence, Rome and Venice, in 1768 she became one of the 22 founding members of the Royal Academy headed by Joshua Reynolds. Alongside still-life painter Mary Moser (1744–1819), she will remain the only female Academician for the next 200 years.

Angelica Kauffmann, Life & Work


11 thoughts on “Ariadne Abandoned by Theseus

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