Élisabeth VIGÉE Le Brun, painter of Marie Antoinette
Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (Marie Élisabeth Louise Vigée; 16 April 1755 – 30 March 1842), also known as Madame Lebrun, was a prominent French painter.
Born in Paris on 16 April 1755, Marie-Louise-Élisabeth Vigée was the daughter of a portraitist and fan painter, Louis Vigée, from whom she received her first instruction. Her mother, Jeanne (née Maissin), was a hairdresser.
Her artistic style is generally considered part of the aftermath of Rococo, while she often adopts a neoclassical style. Vigée Le Brun cannot be considered a pure Rococo or Neoclassical painter. Her subject matter and color palette can be classified as Rococo, however, her style is aligned with the emergence of Neoclassicism. Vigée Le Brun created a name for herself in Ancien Régime society by serving as the portrait painter to Marie Antoinette.
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 the Hermitage Museum, London's National Gallery, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and many other collections in continental Europe and the United States.
Vigée Le Brun, as her career blossomed, was invited to the Palace of Versailles granted patronage by Marie Antoinette. So pleased was the queen that during a period of six years, Vigée Le Brun would paint more than thirty portraits of the queen and her family, leading to her being commonly viewed as the official portraitist of Marie Antoinette. Vigée Le Brun helped to improve Marie Antoinette's image by painting portraits that included her children and worked towards making her more relatable to the public, in hopes to counter the bad press and judgement the queen had recently received. She received commission for the portrait Marie-Antoinette and her Children (1787) in 1785, which portrayed Marie Antoinette as a devout and loving mother figure.
Marie Antoinette later worked as a helping hand in Vigée Le Brun's acceptance into the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in 1783.
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