100 Days of Art History Jinjins


Élisabeth of France, Versailles

I wanted to try a portrait of a fancy French lady in a powdered wig, and found this one. By doing that, I also discovered Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, who it turns out was a prolific portraitist who worked for Marie Antoinette. I always enjoy coming across woman artists, especially from further in the past when it was even harder for women to have artistic careers.

Élisabeth Vigée le Brun was talented and prolific, painting 660 portraits and 200 landscapes. More than 30 of those portraits were of Marie Antoinette and her family. She's a bit polarizing, like Marie Antoinette I guess. Some people find her conventional, making what was essentially monarchist propaganda. But she was also undeniably accomplished, finding success as a woman in a man's world. Part of that seemed to be due to her charm and people skills. Personally, I've got to hand it to her for her painting skills. I'll look at all her work without internalizing the ideas that led to the French Revolution.

I didn't know anything about the subject of this painting until I sat down to write this entry. Turns out that Élisabeth of France was the sister of the last king of France, extremely religious, and an ardent monarchist. She was killed during the Reign of Terror.

I did later do a painting of one of Vigée Le Brun's portraits of Marie Antoinette, but I kind of wish I'd also done this lovely one of Madame Grande. Oh well.

Reference image from Wikipedia. This painting is now in the Château de Versailles.

﴾ Back to full gallery ﴿