Angelica Kauffman, R.A. 1741 - 1807
Photo: R.A./John Hammond
© Royal Academy of Arts, London
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Design, 1778-80
Oil on canvas, 1300 X 1503 X 25 mm
Commissioned from Angelica Kauffman, R.A., 1778-1780
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Although Angelica Kauffman was born in Switzerland and spent only 15 years in England (1766-1781) she made a significant impact on the London art scene. Admired and encouraged by Sir Joshua Reynolds, she and Mary Moser became the only two female Members of the Royal Academy. No further women were elected until Annie Swynnerton became an Associate in 1922.

A painter of historical subjects and portraits, Kauffman's Neo-classical style conformed to the theories advocated in Reynolds's Discourses.

She was invited to make her mark on the Royal Academy's first purpose-built home in new Somerset House, when commissioned to paint four allegorical images of the elements of art for its Council Chamber ceiling. The works are now positioned in the Entrance Hall ceiling at Burlington House.

The figure of Design makes studies from the Belvedere torso within a classical architectural setting. Her interest is in proportion, scale and form based on antique prototypes.

This painting is on display in the Front Hall of the Royal Academy, Burlington House