The portrait shows 13-year-old Vittoria Caldoni, whom the Hanoverian diplomat and art collector August Kestner had met southeast of Rome during the summer of 1820. For him, the daughter of poor vintners was the epitome of the Romantic- Neoclassical ideal of beauty. In the winter of 1820–21, he took her to Rome, where she modeled for various artists from this time onward. Soon a contest began to capture the beauty of the young woman on canvas; only Raphael, the great model and example for the German-speaking, Catholic artists’ group of the Nazarenes living in Rome, would be able to portray her, it was said. The painter Markus Theodor Rehbenitz, who was born in Holstein and later taught drawing at the university in Kiel, took part in this contest, although he was not officially a member of the Guild of Saint Luke, which his brother-in-law had founded. He depicts Caldoni before a neutral background wearing the traditional local costume, whereby he adhered closely to Raphael’s early works in terms of the clarity of its lines and its palette. Nevertheless, even this attempt failed to convince Kestner.


  • Title: Portrait of Vittoria Caldoni
  • Creator: Theodor Rehbenitz
  • Date Created: 1821
  • Physical Dimensions: 47.0 x 37.5 cm
  • Type: painting
  • Rights: Kunsthalle Bremen - Der Kunstverein in Bremen
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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