A child prodigy, Kauffmann produced her first commissioned work before the age of 13. After the death of her mother, she traveled through Austria and Italy with her father, painter Joseph Johann Kauffmann. She assisted him by painting in the backgrounds of his works, but she also received her own commissions and soon established a solid reputation in her own right. She was influenced by Correggio and the Carracci and copied their works in the galleries as part of her artistic training. Later her style reflected a neoclassical flavor influenced by Benjamin West, Sr. Joshua Reynolds and the classicizing elements at Herculaneum.
In 1766 Kauffmann was invited to London. She produced many portraits and decorative painting but preferred history painting, which was considered the highest artistic genre and reserved only for her male colleagues. Despite her inability to secure a formal artistic education or study the male nude, Kauffmann produced paintings, which depicted classical mythology, history and allegory. She received commissions from the Royal courts in Naples, Russia and Austria. While often dismissed by traditional art history as a mere decorative or sentimental artist, she was successful enough to purchase her own home from earned commissions and live a comfortably stylish life. Another testament of Kauffmann's success was that she was one of the founding members of the British Royal Academy in 1768.
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