Madame Lebrun - court portraitist of Marie Antoinette
Madame Lebrun - court portraitist of Marie Antoinette
Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun is a famous French portraitist of the 18th century

Among French portrait painters of the 18th century, she became famous for her special skill and artistic talent. Elizabeth Vigee-Lebrun… The collection of her works numbers hundreds of secular portraits, since the artist enjoyed the special favor of Queen Marie Antoinette.

Self-portrait of Madame Lebrun

The fame of Madame Lebrun was brought by the portraits of women painted by her, in particular, her work was highly appreciated by the queen. Members of the royal family and aristocrats often turned to the artist, and soon Lebrun felt completely natural in high society, despite the fact that she came from the bourgeois class. Lebrun's artistic heritage is 860 portraits, most of which are in the largest museums in the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the London National Gallery.

Self-portrait with daughter Portrait of Countess Anna Ivanovna Tolstoy (Baryatinskaya)

Elizabeth was born in Paris on April 16, 1755. Her father, Louis Vigee, was also a professional portrait painter, and it was he who gave his daughter her first painting lessons. Father died when Elizabeth was 12 years old. Her mother remarried, Jacques-Francois le Sèvres became her new chosen one, the family moved and began to live near the Palais-Royal. The girl continued to paint, a great talent was already guessed in her, therefore such eminent masters as Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Joseph Vernet and Gabriel François Doyenne willingly consulted her.

Portrait by Elisabeth Lebrun, 1784 Portrait of a lady with a letter

Already in her youth, Elizabeth began to paint portraits, in 1774 she became a member of the art academy, and two years later she married the artist and art dealer Jean-Baptiste Pierre Lebrun. With him she visited Flanders and the Netherlands, she was carried away by the masters of the Flemish school. In the prime of her career, Lebrun was invited to Versailles by Queen Marie Antoinette. For six years, Elizabeth painted more than 30 of her portraits, and during these years the artist was the official portraitist of the Queen.

Portrait of Marie Antoinette with children Portrait of the maid of honor of the court of Varvara Golovina

The reputation of Marie Antoinette in those years was not perfect, but the portraits painted by Lebrun formed an attractive image of the queen. In some portraits, she was captured with children. During the Great French Revolution, Elizabeth left France, she lived with her daughter in Italy, Russia and Austria and continued to work. In Rome, she was admitted to the San Luca Academy of Arts. In Russia, she painted a portrait of Stanislav August Poniatowski, the last king of Poland, and some members of the family of Catherine the Great.

Bather, 1972

The last years of Elizabeth's life were spent in France, but from time to time she continued to travel. In particular, she visited England, having painted a portrait of Lord Byron. The artist died on March 30, 1842, and her tombstone bears the epitaph: "Here I will finally rest …".

Portrait of Queen Marie Antoinette

Some paintings by court artists are full of mysteries and secrets. For example, "Meninas" by Velazquez art critics call an encrypted self-portrait.

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