Girl with Black Lace Neckband
Rotari, Pietro Antonio Graf (1707-1762) | Painter
Since the Saxon Elector Friedrich August II was particularly fond of the art of Venice he tried to bring artists to Dresden from that city and the surrounding areas. This included Rotari who was strongly influenced by Venetian painting. In addition to portraits of the electoral family (see Bellotto Hall) the painter was also known for his "varie teste": These "different heads" could be rearranged again and again, thus obtaining a kaleidoscope of diverse characters and micro-histories.
In his series of portraits, Count Pietro Antonio Rotari sought to display quite different character traits, feelings and emotions through gesture and expression. Sometimes, using such accessories as fans, letters or books, he supplements the portraits with little narrative details. Since the Renaissance, all artists were expected to train by drawing and sketching expressive character heads. Initially, this was intended as an exercise to train the eye and expand each artist’s individual repertoire. But in the eighteenth century, the ‘study head’ became established as an independent genre.
Nonetheless, Elector Friedrich August II’s collection of 62 of these portrait heads was quite exceptional at that time – although Catherine II of Russia had even more! In 1756, Rotari was invited to visit Russia. There, he became painter to the imperial court. Commissioned by Catherine II, Rotari painted 368 of these heads in a bust portrait format – though with the help of some assistants. The works were hung close together in the Peterhof Palace gallery.
There are, though, no records to show where Friedrich August hung his collections of Rotari’s portrait heads. In any case, the sequence of the portraits can always be varied, and each new display offers new connections between them – and new stories.
- Material & Technique
- Oil on canvas
- Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister
- c. 1753
- Inventory number
- Inv.-Nr. Mo 2089