Elisabeth Louise Vigée- Lebrun

2103 Words9 Pages
Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun was one of the most successful painters of her time. Over the course of her life, spanning from 1755-1842, she painted over 900 works. She enjoyed painting self portraits, completing almost 40 throughout her career, in the style of artists she admired such as Peter Paul Rubens (Montfort). However, the majority of her paintings were beautiful, colorful, idealized likenesses of the aristocrats of her time, the most well known of these being the Queen of France Marie Antoinette, whom she painted from 1779-1789. Not only was Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun the Queen’s portrait painter for ten years, but she also became her close, personal friend. She saw only the luxurious, carefree, colorful, and fabulous lifestyle the aristocracy lived in, rather than the poverty and suffrage much of the rest of the country was going through. Elisabeth kept the ideals of the aristocracy she saw through Marie Antoinette throughout her life, painting a picture of them that she believed to be practically perfect. Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun’s relationship with Marie Antoinette affected her social standing, politics, painting style, and career. Prior to the 20th century, female artists were the minority members of the art world (Montfort). They lacked formal training and therefore were not taken seriously. If they did paint, it was generally assumed they had a relative who was a relatively well known male painter. Women usually worked with still lifes and miniatures which were the “lowest” in the hierarchy of genres, bible scenes, history, and mythological paintings being at the top (Montfort). To be able to paint the more respected genres, one had to have experience studying anatomy and drawing the male nude, both activities considered t... ... middle of paper ... ...ame Vigée-Lebrun. Trans. Lionel Strachey. Gloucester: Dodo Press, 1903. Print. Gooden, Angelica. The Sweetness of Life: A biography of Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun. London: André Deutsch Limited, 1997. Print. Sheriff, Mary. The Exceptional Woman: Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun and the Cultural Politics of Art. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1996. Print. Deborah Solomon. “The Drama of Madame Lebrun.” The New Criterion. The New Criterion Mag., June 1989. Web. 7 Dec. 2013. “Élisabeth-Vigée Lebrun.” Encylopaedia Brittanica, n.p. Web. 2013. 7 Dec. 2013. "Art and Women FA 2011." : Women Artists: From Middle Ages to Contemporary Artists. Rutgers University - Newark, 27 Nov. 201111. Web. 07 Dec. 2013. "Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History." Rococo in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century European Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2013.
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