About This Artwork

Rosalba Carriera
Italian, 1675-1757

A Young Lady with a Parrot, c. 1730

Pastel on blue laid paper
600 x 500 mm

Regenstein Collection, 1985.40

Drawings, whether made as studies for other compositions of intended as works of art in themselves, can display a degree of intimacy and freshness that is less often schieved in paintings. One of the few renowned women artists of her time, the Venetian Rosalba Carriera popularized the pastel portrait. In Young Lady with a Parrot, silks, ribbons, pearls, lace, flowers, hair, and flesh are defined with lightness and dexterity. The vivacious portrait of a young woman, with her porcelain-like face, cascade of golden curls, and full bosom (revealed by the parrot), exemplifies the flattering portraiture and technical mastery that brought Carriera international fame.

— Entry, Art Institute of Chicago Pocketguide, 2009, p. 55.


Rosalba Carriera is renowned for the distinction she brought to pastel portraiture in Italy and France during the first half of the eighteenth century. No female artist enjoyed greater success or exerted more influence on the art of her era than Rosalba, as she is known. The artist’s work in pastel divides itself into two categories: portraits and allegories. A shrewd judge of character, she enhanced but never obscured the actual appearance of the sitters in her portraits. In contrast, her allegorical types are often so generalized that they can seem repetitive, bland, and undistinguished. A Young Lady with a Parrot is an intriguing combination of both genres. The colorful parrot is a witty conceit that subtly transfers the provocative gesture of baring one’s breast from the young woman to a mischievous bird, whose beak pulls back the gauzy fabric that edges the sitter’s bodice. With its rich colorism and vaporous effects, A Young Lady with a Parrot is a fully mature work, exhibiting the assurance of Rosalba’s finest and most famous portraits. The pastel may depict a young Englishwoman, perhaps one of the daughters of Lord Manchester. Whoever the model, this image’s aura of grace and seduction was to characterize the arts of much of the century, marking Rosalba as one of the originators of the Rococo style in Italy and France.

— Entry, Essential Guide, 2013, p. 310.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Paris, Galérie Georges Petit, “Exposition de cent pastels du XVIIIe siècle par Latour, Perronneau, Nattier ... [et al.],” cat. 6, cat. by the Marquise de Ganay,1908.

The Art Institute of Chicago, “The Regenstein Collection of European Drawings,” 1985-1986.

The Art Institute of Chicago: May 1, 1987-July 24, 1989 (Installation in Allerton gallery 220A).

Publication History

Louis de Fourcaud, “Le Pastel et les Pastellistes Français au XVIIIème siècle. À propos de l’Exposition des Cents Pastels,” Revue de l’Art Ancien et Moderne, XXIV (1908), pp. 13-14.

A. Lesmoine, “Exposition de Cent Pastels,” Les Arts, 82 (October 1908), pp. 14-15.

Frank Davis, “Talking about Salerooms: Masterly Menagerie,” Country Life (March 14, 1985), p. 644 (ill.).

Bernardina Sani, Rosalba Carriera (Turin, 1988), no. 92, fig. 72.

Bernardina Sani, “Rosalba Carriera’s Young Lady with a Parrot,” The Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 17, 1 (1991), pp. 75-95 (ill.).

Jan Martineau and Andrew Robison, The Glory of Venice, Art in the Eighteenth Century (New Haven, Conn., 1995), p. 19, fig. 5.

“Maineri to Miró: The Regenstein Collection Since 1975,” The Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies, 26, 1 (2000), pp. 30-31 (ill.).

The Essential Guide (Chicago, 2009), p. 296 (ill.).

Ownership History

Maurice Gangnat, Paris (died 1924) by 1908; Casimir S. Stralem, New York; Donald S. Stralem (died 1976), New York; by descent to his wife, Mrs. Jean I. Stralem (died 1994), New York; sold, Christie’s, London, December 13, 1984, lot 181; David Tunick Inc., New York; sold to the Art Institute, 1985.




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