Kauffman was a Swiss neo-classical painter who learned to paint from her father. She is known for her history paintings but she also made numerous self-portraits. This one shows her at age 39. She was very driven, versatile (she also liked music) and highly productive. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote about her a couple of years after she had painted this self-portrait:
“She is tired of commissions, but her old husband thinks it wonderful that so much money should roll in for what is often easy work- She would like to paint to please herself and have more leisure to study and take pains.”
If you look at her career and what she has achieved (she was among other things one of the two female founders of the Royal Academy) it is surprising you don’t find her work in the popular ‘famous paintings’ books.