Louise-Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, French artist, the daughter
and student of her father, the artist Louis Vigée, was born on 16th
April, 1755 in Paris. In 1776, she married the known art-dealer Jeanne
Baptiste Pierre Lebrun. She made an early and brilliant career: in 1779
she officially became a court painter of the Queen Marie-Antoinette, in
1783 she was admitted to the French Academy of Arts.
“Intelligent, diplomatic, resourceful, and independent, she remains
a role model to women who paint, having won wide recognition for her skills
and gained admission to academies long closed to her sex.” (Paintings
in the Hermitage
. by Colin Eisler. 1990. Stewart, Tabori &
Chang. p 516)
Vigée-Lebrun was an extremely industrious and productive painter,
she left more than 30 portraits of the queen and her ladies-in-waiting,
many self portraits, and a lot of portraits of the European nobility. Her
portraits are elegant and rich in color, very sentimental and idealized
the model. But the evident difference of the models from their pictorial
depiction did not embarrass the customers. Vigée-Lebrun was fashionable
with the European aristocracy. Her fame grew even more with her immigration
during the French Revolution first to Italy (1789-93), then to Vienna (1793-94),
and then to St. Petersburg (1795-1802), where she also spent 6 very successful
years painting portraits of Russian aristocrats. In her best works the
magnificent art of French portraitists of the 18th century and fine sensitiveness
of the European sentimentalism are happily united.
Exceptional Woman : Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun and the Cultural Politics of
Art by Mary D. Sheriff. University of Chicago Press, 1996.
Memoirs of Madame Vigee Lebrun. George Braziller, 1989.
Famous Russians in the 18th and 19th centuries. Lenizdat.
St. Peterburg. 1996. (in Russian)