The Appraising Glance
Even in her youth, painter Angelica Kauffmann – born 1741 – was celebrated as an extraordinary talent. Her portraits of Winckelmann and Goethe attracted international attention, and her salons and friendships were the subjects of wild speculation. Gabrielle Alioth's captivating biographical novel tells the story of her career, her adroit self-promotion and her charismatic charms.
In the year 1800 court painter Franz Joseph Kauffmann travels to Bregenz to research his family tree. In the course of his investigations he also starts to reconstruct the life of his cousin Angelica, with whom he shared his childhood, and whom he still loves. He visits old friends and patrons who supported her career: a priest from Bregenz, the painter Heinrich Füssli whose affections she rejected in London, her sponsor Joshua Reynolds, her doctor and admirer John Morgan. Finally, he discovers the diary of Johann Reiffenstein, describing her residence in Rome, the capricious approaches of the "baronet" as Goethe liked to call himself on his travels, and the petty jealousies of Herder. From such details the portrait of a brilliant woman emerges, a woman who inflamed the passions of an entire generation of artists.