RA Schools alumna Sarah Pickstone pays tribute to 18th-century painter Angelica Kauffman, as part of our celebratory programme marking 250 years of the RA.
Swiss-born artist Angelica Kauffman (1741-1807) was one of only two women among the Royal Academy’s founding members in 1768. The Academy commissioned her to paint four ceiling paintings, and when the RA moved to Burlington House they were installed in the entrance hall. Called The Elements of Art, these roundels depict female figures representing colour, design, composition and invention.
Artist Sarah Pickstone has created a two-part homage to these paintings. The Rainbow is a six-metre-wide reinterpretation of Kauffman’s Colour and will hang in the ramp space outside the RA Cafe. The second painting, Belvedere, is a response to Kauffman’s Design, which is currently on display in our new Collections Gallery. Belvedere will fill Design’s former space in the ceiling of the front entrance hall of Burlington House.
Kauffman’s figures are actively painting and drawing, in contrast with traditional, passive representations of women. By focusing on their active gaze and gesture, Pickstone re-sees the history of the Royal Academy and of women artists in general.
Sarah Pickstone studied at the Royal Academy Schools, completed the Rome Scholarship in Painting from 1991–92 and won the John Moores Painting Prize in 2012. She lives in London and exhibits internationally.