Miss Angel: The Art and World of Angelica Kauffman by Angelica Gooden - review by John McEwen

John McEwen

She Knew Not The Nude

Miss Angel: The Art and World of Angelica Kauffman


Pimlico 389pp £17.99

If Angelica Gooden is named after Angelica Kauffman (1741–1807; pronounced ‘Coffman’), the Fellow and Tutor of St Hilda’s College, Oxford, has admirably fulfilled her destiny. This is an amusing and solid biography every bit as good as The Sweetness of Life (Deutsch, 1997), the author’s complementary life of Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun (1755–1842).

The Dictionary of National Biography claims Angelica, as Gooden affectionately calls her, for Britain. Her greatest success was in England, where she lived and worked for fifteen years, although she was born in Switzerland and raised from the age of one in Italy. However, through love and respect for her Austrian father, she always claimed to have grown up in Austria, and until thirty years ago her image appeared on the Austrian 100-schilling note.

Johann Joseph Kauffman was a journeyman artist who abandoned his career as soon as he saw it would be more lucrative to manage his daughter’s. Fortunately she was a natural workaholic: ‘When her parents themselves called her for some recreation … she appeared joyful for a moment; but then, very

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