- Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun
bgcolour = #EEDD82
name = Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun
imagesize = 250px
caption = "Self-portrait in a Straw Hat", 1782.
birthname = Marie Élisabeth-Louise Vigée
birthdate = birth date|1755|4|16|mf=y
deathdate = death date and age|1842|3|30|1755|4|16|mf=y
nationality = flagcountry|France
Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun (
April 16, 1755- March 30, 1842) was a French painter, and is recognized as the most famous woman painter of the eighteenth century. Her style is generally considered Rococoand shows interest in the subject of neoclassical painting. Vigée-Le Brun cannot be considered a purely Neoclassist in that she creates mostly portraits in Neoclassical dress rather than the History painting. In her choice of color and style while serving as the portrait painter to the Queen, Vigée-Le Brun is purely Rococo.
She was born in
Parison 16 April 1755, Marie Élisabeth-Louise Vigée, the daughter of a portraitist and fan painter, Louis Vigée, from whom she received her first instruction. Her mother was a hairdresser. [CyberPathways Art World] She was sent to live with relatives in Epernonuntil the age of 6 when she entered a convent where she remained for five years. Her father died when she was 12 years old. In 1768, her mother married a wealthy jeweler, Jacques-Francois Le Sèvre and the family moved to the rue Saint-Honoré close to the Palais Royal. During this period Elisabeth benefited by the advice of Gabriel François Doyen, Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Joseph Vernet, and other masters of the period.
By the time she was in her early teens, Elisabeth was painting portraits professionally. After her studio was seized, for practicing without a license, she applied to the "Académie de Saint Luc", which unwillingly exhibited her works in their Salon. On
25 October 1774, she was made a member of the Académie.
, the French Queen consort.
So pleased was the queen that over the next several years, Vigée-Le Brun was commissioned to do numerous portraits of the queen, her children, and other members of the royal family and household. On
12 February 1780Vigée-Le Brun gave birth to a daughter Jeanne Julie Louise, whom she called "Julie".
In 1781 she and her husband toured
Flandersand the Netherlandswhere seeing the works of the Flemish masters inspired her to try new techniques. There, she painted portraits of some of the nobility, including the Prince of Nassau.
May 31, 1783, Vigée Le Brun was accepted as a member of France's " Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture" as a painter of historical allegory. Adélaïde Labille-Guiardalso was admitted on the same day.
because Marie-Antoinette put considerable pressure on her husband on behalf of her painter.
The admission of more than one woman on the same day to the Académie encouraged comparisons among the works of the women instead of one woman contrasted with the existing members, who were men.
In 1789, she was succeeded as court painter to Marie Antoinette by
In Russia, she was received by the nobility and painted numerous members of the family of Catherine the Great. While there, Vigée-Le Brun was made a member of the "Academy of Fine Arts of Saint Petersburg". Much to Vigée-Le Brun's dismay, Julie married a Russian nobleman. [CyberPathways Art World]
She was welcomed back to France during the reign of Emperor Napoleon I. Much in demand by the "élite" of
Europe, she visited Englandat the beginning of the nineteenth century and painted the portrait of several British notables including Lord Byron. In 1807 she traveled to Switzerlandand was made an honorary member of the "Société pour l'Avancement des Beaux-Arts" of Geneva.
She published her memoirs in 1835 and 1837, which provide an interesting view of the training of artists at the end of the period dominated by royal academies. Her portrait of fellow neoclassical painter,
Hubert Robert, is in Paris at Musee National du Louvre.
Still very active with her painting in her fifties, she purchased a house in
Louveciennes, Île-de-France, and lived there until the house was seized by the Prussian Army during the war in 1814. She stayed in Paris until her death on March 30, 1842when her body was taken back to Louveciennesand buried in the cemetery near her old home.
epitaphstates "Ici, enfin, je repose…" (Here, at last, I rest…).
Vigée-Le Brun left a legacy of 660 portraits and 200 landscapes. In addition to private collections, her works may be found at major museums, such as
Hermitage Museum, London's National Gallery, in Europeand the United States.
*Lebrun, "Souvenirs", Paris, 1835–1837 (translated by Lionel Strachey, New York, 1903).
*CyberPathways Art World
* [http://www.batguano.com/Vigee.html Large gallery of Vigée-LeBrun's work; also articles, Memoirs, biographies]
* [http://www.artcyclopedia.com/artists/vigee-lebrun_marie_louise_elisabeth.html Artcyclopedia entry on Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun]
* Vigée-Lebrun's " [http://www.artnet.com/artwork/129425/_Marie_Louise_Elisabeth_Vigee-Lebrun_Portrait_of_Carlo_Gastone_della_Torre_di_Rezzonico.html Portrait of Carlo Gastone della Torre di Rezzonico] " at [http://www.artnet.com/ artnet]
* [http://www.gadflyonline.com/01-14-02/ftr-women.html Old Masters: Overlooked Women Artists]
* [http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/lebrun/memoirs/memoirs.html "Memoirs of Madame Vigée-Lebrun", translated by Lionel Strachey]
* [http://www.pastellists.com Neil Jeffares, Dictionary of pastellists before 1800, online edition]
Angelica Goodden, "The Sweetness of Life: A Biography of Elisabeth Louise Vigee Le Brun," Andre Deutsch Limited, London, 1997
NAME= Brun, Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le
ALTERNATIVE NAMES= Vigée, Marie Élisabeth-Louise
SHORT DESCRIPTION= French painter
DATE OF BIRTH= birth date|1755|4|16|mf=y
PLACE OF BIRTH=
DATE OF DEATH= death date|1842|3|30|mf=y
PLACE OF DEATH=
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