Rosalba Carriera was born in Venice on October 7, 1675.
Venice always remained her favorite city despite her occasional journeys elsewhere. She is of particular art historical importance as she popularized the pastel portrait. Pastels were first used for making copies of oil paintings but by the late 1600's artists began to enjoy the variety of effects and the speed that came with their use.
Pastels were the ideal medium for the Rococo-style portraits that she created for her distinguished patrons.
By 1721, during Carriera's first trip to Paris, portraits by her were in great demand. She painted Watteau, all the royalty and nobility from the King and Regent downwards, and was elected a member of the Academy by acclamation. She became hugely popular and, in effect, the wage-earner of her family. After her travelling to Paris and later Poland, Carriera returned to Venice.
Her portraits were highly competent and flattering, almost always consisting of a bust-length pose, with the body turned slightly away and the head turned to face the viewer. Carriera had an unusual ability to represent textures and patterns, faithfully re-creating fabrics, gold braid, lace, hair and skin and show-casing the sumptuous, material life-style of her rich and influential patrons.
The last years of Carriera's life were tragic, as her sight deserted her completely, and she went blind. Rosalba Carriera died on April 15, 1757.