Author(s): Katharine Baetjer
Elisabeth Louise Vigee Le Brun (1755-1842) was one of the greatest 18th-century French painters and among the most important women artists of all time. Celebrated for her expressive portraits of French royalty and aristocracy, especially of her patron and friend Marie Antoinette, she exemplified artistic success and personal resourcefulness in an age when women were rarely allowed either. Forced to flee France during the Revolution, Le Brun traveled throughout Europe for sixteen years, painting royal and noble sitters in the courts of Naples, Russia, Austria, Poland, and Germany. She returned to France in 1805, under the reign of Emperor Napoleon I, where her artistic career continued to flourish. Alongside 85 of her finest paintings and drawings from international museums and collections, this handsome volume details Vigee Le Brun's story, portraying a talented and intelligent artist who was able to negotiate a shifting political and geographic landscape. Providing further context for the life of this extraordinary individual, essays by international experts address topics such as her travels in exile and the position of women artists in the Salons.
Joseph Baillio is an independent scholar in New York. Katharine Baetjer is curator, Department of European Paintings, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Paul Lang is deputy director and chief curator, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.