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The great portraitist (1755-1845)

Élisabeth Louis Vigée Le Brun is one of the most great portraitist of her time, the equal of Quentin de La Tour or Jean-Baptiste Greuze. Issue of the petty bourgeoisie, she will find her place among the great kingdom, espacially with the King and his family. She thus became the official painter of Queen Marie Antoinette.

Born in Paris in 1755, she came from a relatively modest background, her mother a hairdresser and her father a talented portrait artist. Her father died when she was a young adolescent. Drawing inspiration from his example, the brilliant young artist was accepted as a master painter at the Academy of Saint-Luc. In 1776, she married the most important art dealer of her generation, Jean Baptiste Pierre Le Brun (1748-1813), but this prevented her from being accepted at the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture because its regulations formally forbid any contact with mercantile professions. However, this union had a beneficial effect on her career. When the price of Flemish paintings soared, she learnt how to master the magic of colours and the fine craftsmanship of Rubens and Van Dyck. Her clientèle had mainly been the bourgeoisie but in 1777, she started working for the aristocracy, descendants of royal blood and finally Queen Marie-Antoinette. However, it was not until 1783 and the intervention of the Queen’s husband, Louis XVI, that the portrait artist was able to join the Royal Academy of Painting after much polemic. - See more at: http://www.grandpalais.fr/en/event/elisabeth-louise-vigee-le-brun#sthash.NGXXaReq.dpuf

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