Thursday, February 13, 2014

Elusive Elisa

Elisa Counis "Self-Portrait" 1839  The Uffizi Gallery Florence

Despite the arresting beauty of this image and the fact that it is in the collection of the Uffizi, I can find no information online about the artist, Elisa Counis, other than her life span (1812-1847) and a designated nationality of Italian. Her dates and the fact she was apparently a highly accomplished portraitist lead me to suspect that she was the daughter of Swiss portrait painter Salomon-Guillaume Counis (1785-1859.)  European borders changed a lot in the 1800s, and artists were notoriously peripatetic, so the Swiss/Italian designation of nationality is inconclusive.

This painting was included in an exhibition at the Uffizi several years ago titled AUTORITTRATE, "Artiste di capriccioso e destrissimo ingengo" which roughly translates as "Artists of whimsy and ingenuity" (although the word destrissimo appears to defy direct translation? Please let me know if you know what it means.) The exhibit dates were December 17, 2010  through January 30, 2011 and it was held in the museum's Sala delle Reali Poste. The exhibit was aimed to raise awareness of the many self-portraits specifically by women artists both historical and contemporary included in the vast collections of the Uffizi. 

7 comments:

Eliza Auth said...

This is an exquisite self-portrait! I hope you're able to find out more about her. I like your conjecture that she is the daughter of the Swiss painter.

Alexandra Tyng said...

Thank you for bringing this work of Elisa Counis to our attention. Such a beautiful self-portrait! I wonder if her short life span contributes to our lack of knowledge about her? It does seem likely that she was related to S-G Counis.

mostly about my mother said...

I am quite sure Elisa is the daughter of S-G Counis. There are some references in this book: http://books.google.com/books?id=WsticbkfxgsC&dq=%22salomon+guillaume+counis%22+elisa&source=gbs_navlinks_s, and she is mentioned again here: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salomon-Guillaume_Counis. And once more, with a bit more detail: http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/salomon-guillaume-counis_(Dizionario-Biografico)/.

It seems she was instructed in music and painting by her father, and died shortly after her marriage, in her mid thirties. The last link has a list of some of her known works, and their locations. Thanks for posting this!

Nancy Bea Miller said...

Oh, how very cool to have my hunch substantiated! Thank you so much Mostly! Many thanks also. Alexandra and Eliza, for your appreciative comments!

Zoe Bray said...

hello. it's a pleasure to discover this exquisite self-portrait! The title of the exhibition means Women Artists of Whimsical and Skilled Talent. (A strange title if you ask me). Thank you for your very interesting blog! Best Zoe

Anonymous said...

Elisa is definitively the daughter of Salomon Guillaume Counis. The best source to learn more about the Counis family is the book wrote by Ernest Naef. This book, unfortunately not available online, has not been translated from French. A few landscapes painted by Elisa are now in private collections in Switzerland and France. (sorry for my english ..) L. Guillermin

ankit kumar said...

Thank you for sharing this information this is very nice blog thank you for giving this info
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