Vigée le Brun in the Grand Palais:December 2015

6a00d8346410f069e201b8d18bd456970c-600wiThe little art seeker has seen the sumptuous exhibition devoted to the official painter of queen Marie -Antoinette :Vigée le Brun in le Grand palais.

vlebrun-autoportrait-1790-ht                                               vigee-lebrun-autoportrait-au-chapeau-de-paille-1782Elizabeth Vigee le Brun was one of the rare woman painter who could live of her art in a century where painting was a field mostly occupied by men.

The reason of her success :a real talent that her father who was himself a painter very quickly encouraged telling her « You shall be a painter my child or nothing at all »!


The young artist began her career,by using her family and friends as her first models.She then married the famous art dealer Jean Baptiste le Brun who was well informed and helped her to acquire a select client base and to become famous.

le-brun-self-portrait-lrgThe recognition came very fast ,when in 1774 she became a member of the Academie of Saint Luc ,a guild of painters and sculptors .


Where did she make her classes?By studying the royal collections in the musée du Louvre and also the old masters as Jean Baptiste Greuze.In this way,she obtained a very special skill and a real personal style that made her famous.


Peace bringing back abundance

In 1783, thanks to the queen’s intervention she was received into the royal Academy of painting and sculpture with her painting representing a mythological scene.

After her first official portrait of Marie-Antoinette who was delighted to have found at last a painter that represented her in a way that would flatter her beauty ,she became her official painter!


However she shocked her audience ,by depicting the queen wearing a very light muslin dress very far away from the pompous attire ,a queen was used to wear.By representing the queen is such a way ,she rendered very well ,her taste for intimacy.The portrait launched a new fashion »en robe de gaulle » and the painter did not lose any patrons among royalty or at court.


Her art will reveal the evolution of the French society very much interested in the theories about education by Jean Jacques Rousseau.The importance of the child as a real person and the tender bonds that unite him to his mother will be one of her most important topics and she will give us beautiful portraits of mothers and children during all her career.

vlebrun-marie-antoinette-et-ses-enfants-1787-htvigeelebrun-jeanne-1786-zvigeelebrun-jeanne-1789-zWhen the Revolution bursts out,she will leave France and will live a life of expatriate artist .Painting in all the courts of Europe :Italy,where she will paint all the aristocracy and also beautiful actresses such as lady Hamilton,the british ambassador’s wife .


                                        Portrait of lady Hamilton as a sibyl

She will also travel and stay in Russia,where she arrived in July 1795 and was officially presented to Catherine II.

This will be a start of a six year period ,ending in July 1801 during which the artist will work for the imperial family and also the Russian aristocracy.

She will love a lot ,her life in Russia.At court everyone spoke French and she attended balls and receptions and wrote in her memoirs « It appeared as though good taste had bounded from Paris to St Petersburg! »


She will die in Paris in June 1842 ,at the age of 86 after an extrordinary life;separated from her husband and mourning her unique child Julie who had been during her young age her favorite model .

vlbjuliemir vlbbatherjulie

She had an incredible career and could live of her art until the end of her life.

SELF PORTRAIT OF Elisabeth VigŽe-Lebrun signed 1791 at Ickworth, Suffolk

So if you have a little time in this rainy month of December in Paris,visit this beautiful exhibition.The little art seeker recommends it!!



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