I recently came across a post on The Met’s European Paintings Instagram page that immediately stood out to me as something I recognized from my Women in Art class. The post was about a pastel portrait of Gustavus Hamilton by Rosalba Carriera. We had been focusing on this woman artist because of her amazing skill with pastels and her ability to give this medium a higher status, even challenging that of oil. Pastels can be difficult to work with and even harder to get specific details and yet Carriera captured amazing naturalistic and realistic details. This is easily seen in Gustavus Hamilton’s eyes, the shine on his lip, the textured fabric, and the soft detailed hairs of the fur lining. It’s truly impressive work.
What really stood out to me when reading this post was a new discovery they recently made about the painting. Being that pastels are a soft and blendable medium, you have to be very careful when transporting the work so as to not damage it in any way. In hopes to keep the work safe, Rosalba Carriera included a small image of the Three Magi wedged into the back corner of the portrait. This was just recently discovered and has probably been there since Carriera put it there! I think that’s such an interesting and exciting little find.
Featured Images: https://www.instagram.com/p/CNFpmMHH0V3/