Watercolor on ivory in a tortoiseshell pique-point frame
Framed: 10.6 x 12.7 cm (4 3/16 x 5 in.); Unframed: 8.6 x 10.5 cm (3 3/8 x 4 1/8 in.)
The Edward B. Greene Collection 1940.1203
On view at:
Its extraordinary thickness indicates that this is one of Carriera's earliest experiments painting on ivory.
Scholars generally agree that Rosalba Carriera (1675-1757) developed the art of painting miniatures on ivory, in place of the traditional support of vellum, a fine animal skin. Although she became famous as a pastel painter, in her early career, Carriera decorated ivory snuff boxes-containers used to hold powdered tobacco taken by sniffing up the nostrils-for tourists. This miniature likely served as a lid to a snuff box, due to its elliptical shape in contrast to the oval or occasionally round shapes of most other miniatures. Although painters of ivory snuff boxes used watercolor, the same media artists used on vellum, the finished images on ivory were crude in comparison to those painted on vellum because ivory presents a greasy, non-absorbent surface, causing watercolor to run. Carriera revolutionized the art of watercolor painting on ivory through a process she termed her fondelli, or foundation. She developed a way in which to work in watercolor on ivory that emulated the soft powdery sophistication of her pastels. She used opaque gouache, essentially watercolor paint mixed with a gummy white, a combination of media which adhered to the oily surface of ivory. News of Carriera's innovation spread through Europe, and in the first few decades of the 1700s, most miniaturists abandoned vellum in favor of ivory.
The information about this object, including provenance, may not be currently accurate. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email [email protected].
To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.
All images and data available through Open Access can be downloaded for free. For images not available through Open Access, a detail image, or any image with a color bar, request a digital file from Image Services.