Teresa Vandoni, Italian Singer at the Royal Opera, Stockholm

Carl Frederik von Breda1797

Nationalmuseum Sweden

Nationalmuseum Sweden

After many years living in England, Carl Fredric von Breda returned to Stockholm in 1796. The following year, he completed a full-length portrait of Teresa Vandoni – an Italian opera singer and actress who appeared on stage all over Stockholm in the mid-1790s.

In London, von Breda had been strongly influenced by British portraitists such as Thomas Gainsborough. Back home, these experiences informed his own artistic style, and the portrait of Teresa Vandoni is quite probably inspired by Gainsborough’s full-length portraits of English noblewomen in an outdoor setting. The portrait was shown to great acclaim at the Royal Academy exhibition in Stockholm in 1798.

With a small dog under her arm and a garland of flowers in her hand, Vandoni is strolling through a wild and overgrown parkland scene at Bellevue, near Brunnsviken on the outskirts of Stockholm. Her light and simple dress was the height of fashion at the time and an allusion to the much admired sculptures of Ancient Rome and Greece. This painting thus unites two of the era’s key cultural trends – a fascination for classical antiquity and a new interest in nature.

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  • Title: Teresa Vandoni, Italian Singer at the Royal Opera, Stockholm
  • Creator: Carl Fredrik von Breda
  • Date Created: 1797
  • Title in Swedish: Teresa Vandoni, italiensk sångerska vid Kungl. Operan i Stockholm
  • Signature: C.F.v. Breda pinx: 1797
  • Physical Dimensions: w1500 x h1780 cm (without frame)
  • Artist Information: The Swedish painter Carl Fredric von Breda was primarily a portrait painter. He was the son of Lukas von Breda – a significant art collector of the time and also one of Sweden’s early art writers. Carl Fredric received his first training at the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm, where he studied under Lorens Pasch the Younger. He also took part in the Royal Academy’s first student exhibition in 1784. In order to complete his training, he travelled to Britain in 1787 and worked for a time at the studio of Joshua Reynolds in London. In 1796 he returned to Stockholm and was made a professor at the Royal Academy. He was also much sought after as a portrait painter and completed commissions for various circles of Sweden’s social elite, from the Royal court downwards. In his portraits, von Breda was strongly influenced by English portrait painters such as Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough. Like the latter, he often placed his models out in the open air, allowing the natural scenery to provide the portrait with an atmospheric backdrop. As a portrait painter with an English influence, he brought to Sweden an emotionally charged alternative to cool continental Neoclassicism.
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Nationalmuseum, Nationalmuseum
  • Medium: Oil on canvas