Maria Antonia Walpurgis Symphorosa Self Portrait at the Age of About Forty c. 1772
Maria Antonia Walpurgis Symphorosa, Princess of Bavaria (1724-1780) was born in Munich to Archduchess Maria Amalia of Austria and Elector Karl Albert of Bavaria (later Emperor Karl VII). The fourth in a family of seven children, she received a first-class education, particularly in the arts (including painting and poetry, as well as music.)
Maria Antonia grew up to become, among other things, a highly respected composer, known particularly for her operas Il trionfo della fedeltà (The Triumph of Loyalty) and Talestri, regina delle amazoni (Thalestris, Queen of the Amazons.) Click here for a delightful YouTube clip of a modern production of Talestri! She performed actively as a singer and keyboard player in court performances. In addition, she wrote a number of arias, a pastorale, intermezzos, meditations and motets. This intelligent and multi-talented woman also acted as the Regent of Saxony from 1763 through 1768. She was married and was the mother of nine children.
Maria Antonia's artistic fame stems from her musical achievements, but we can see from this self-portrait that she also continued to paint for her own pleasure, and very skillfully so, throughout her life.