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.