Colnaghi Foundation Journal 03 - Page 128

For Jennifer Fletcher
Due donne virili: Laura Martinozzi, Angelica Kauffman,
and a rediscovered drawing by Andrea Lanzani
The first folio in an album of drawings once owned by
Angelica Kauffman (now at Saltram, National Trust),
is a double-sided sheet, the recto of which features a
posthumous portrait of Laura Martinozzi, Duchess of
Modena (1639-1687) (figs. 1 & 2). Kauffman, with her
enlightened education, cannot have failed to admire
this “donna virile”, as described by Ludovico Antonio
Muratori, and perhaps even found some reflection in
and inspiration for her own life and artistic endeavour.1
Fig. 1 / Andrea Lanzani,
Posthumous Portrait of
Laura Martinozzi, Duchess
of Modena, 1687, black
chalk, partly stumped, with
red chalk on faded blue
paper, 43 x 32 cm, Saltram,
The Morley Collection,
National Trust.
The album, composed of some 119 drawings, was
probably bought en masse by Kauffman during her
first trip to Italy, between 1762 and 1766; the binding
is Italian and the last inclusions slightly antedate
the mid-eighteenth century.2 An early provenance is
virtually impossible to reconstruct, although some
of the drawings bear the markings of the “double
numbering collector”, who invasively numbered each
sheet with both Arabic numerals and Italian lettering
(the portrait of Martinozzi is not one of these).3 The
drawings vary in quality, ranging from the sublime
(Perugino) to the faintly ridiculous (staid tracings by
anonymous, probably Roman, artists of the seventeenth
century).4 There are numerous anatomical studies by,
for example, Cortona, Maratta, and Pagani, as well as
compositional studies by Canini, Vieira and Maratta’s
circle. Sketches of the human form must have been a
useful aid for a female artist precluded from studying
from life, and whose ignorance of anatomy had
traditionally been regarded as a weakness in her work.
Physical verisimilitude and expression were essential
stepping stones towards success in the elevated art of
history painting, which had hitherto been dominated by
male artists. Kauffman also owned nine similarly bound
volumes of prints (also now at Saltram), whose contents
would have complemented the drawings volume and
served as iconographical aids.5 Goethe recognized how
Kauffman’s own collection not only brought pleasure,
but also served as an instrument of learning:
Angelica has given herself a treat and bought
two pictures, one by Titian, the other by Paris
Bordone …. it is fitting that she should acquire
something which gives her pleasure, and
something which increases her zeal for art.
As soon as she got the pictures into the house
she began to paint in a new way in order to
try and find out how she could make certain
of these masters’ strengths her own. She is
tireless, not just about work, but also studying.6
It is equally possible that Kauffman bought the album
to resell (educational use and commercial possibility
not being mutually exclusive); Padre Sebastiano Resta
complained of Charles Gerves doing exactly that in
1706 (taking full advantage of the depressed Italian
market).7 In fact, she sold the album some ten years
later, to John II Parker, 1st Baron Boringdon (17341788) in 1772 (the receipt is dated 17 April).8 He paid
£80 for the volume of “Disegni Diversi” as well as the
nine volumes of prints, not an inconsiderable figure; in
1773 and 1774 he would pay Kauffman £38 and £40
respectively for two pictures, although – tellingly – he
lost £84 to a Mr Fox on Pumpkin at Burford races.9
The Kauffman provenance had also – most probably –
raised the value of the album.


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