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Woman Pleating Her Hair. Etching. 22 x 16.4 cm. 1765. Andresen 25 I (of II).
Possibly one of the finest specimens of Kauffmann’s entire printed œuvre, this etching was done between July and October 1765 in Bologna, one of the last stages of the artist’s successful second Italian tour, which lasted from 1758 to 1766. In June 1766 Kauffmann settled in London, where she was to attain further artistic and social recognition.
The particular charm of the print lies in its air of gentle melancholy. A young woman, shown in full figure profile, sits on a chaise longue and, gazing pensively into the distance, pleats her hair with both hands. Her left foot rests on a little footstool and her upper body is partly uncovered. A southern landscape is visible through the opening between the wall on the left and the column on the right. The portrayal almost seems to symbolize the artist’s personal farewell to Italy. The simple yet varied etching technique is in keeping with the intimate and private nature of the scene. To render the flesh-tints and the hair Kauffmann has used fine stipplings, tiny strokes and delicate patterns of cross-hatching which convey a maximum of transparency and lightness. Soft light brings out the drapes of the dress and the gentle curves of the upper body.
A splendid, delicate and richly modulated early impression with full margins. With fine needle scratches proofs along the platemark. Printed on a firm, hand-made paper of probably Venetian origin. Before the rework in aquatint and before the changing of the date to 1780. A third, undescribed printing state bears the address of John Thompson and the date 1804. Slightly stained on the verso, otherwise in perfectly mint condition.