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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Rosalba Carriera

b. 1675, Venice; d. 1757, Venice

The portraitist Rosalba Carriera revolutionized the use of pastel as a medium. Raised in Venice, a mercantile crossroads of Europe, she acquired an international clientele of British, German, and French travelers who commissioned her specialty, delicate miniature portraits painted on pieces of oval-shaped ivory. By the age of twenty, she was producing the pastel portraits for which she became famous. She was admitted to the art academies of Rome, Bologna, and Paris—the latter an honor rarely bestowed on women—and received commissions from the courts of Modena, Vienna, and Dresden. Carriera never married. Her last years were plagued by failing eyesight.