Elisabeth Louise Vigée

Elisabeth Louise Vigée - Elisabeth Louise Vige-LeBrun:...

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Elisabeth Louise Vigée-LeBrun: The Exceptional Woman Who Changed It All When the subject of females in eighteenth and nineteenth century art is approached, few names are more prominent and more respected than that of Elisabeth Louise Vigée-LeBrun. Throughout her expansive career, Vigée-LeBrun garnered the respect of art societies across Europe and created previously unseen opportunities for contemporary women artists, as well as the generations who followed in her steps. Her intimacy with the royal families of France and Russia, and the nobility of Austria, England and Poland, contributed subject matter that provided a look into the lives of the privileged of the day. At the bidding of royalty, she painted warm and friendly family scenes, as well as formal portraits, that were used as political tools to appeal to the masses, to exhibit the caring and compassionate side of the royalty. Vigée-LeBrun’s careful representation of historical giants like Marie Antoinette and Lord Byron offers modern viewers a unique perspective into the intricacies of society and politics during the most turbulent period of French history. And as important as her art is to understanding history, her well-documented life during post-Revolution France and Europe also reveals the impact of being a loyalist and a woman during a time of persecution. Her travels across the continent and through the many hierarchies of European nobility provide insight to the lives of artists, women and monarchists, all encompassed in the single being of Vigée-LeBrun. Historically, she was a personification of the changes sweeping through Europe: the liberalization of art societies, the installment of democratic governments, and the loosening of the reigns on women. Artistically, she was equally as powerful. Her unparalleled talent set a 1
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precedent for portraiture and for all of Neoclassicism. The life of Vigée-LeBrun is a culmination of personal trials, career successes, and the pure, raw talent that makes her work unforgettable in the scheme of art history. Born on April 16 th 1755 in France, Marie Elisabeth Louise Vigée was the product of a hairdresser and an artist. Her father struggled as painter, but managed a meager career in the shadows of the masters of the time; men like Boucher, LaTour, Greuze and Chardin. Neoclassicism was at its highest point and it would be these men and their works that would influence Elisabeth-Louise in her later training. Haldane MacFall says this about Vigée’s early life: “Like Francois Boucher, the great painter to the king, Elisabeth Vigee came to the pretty business with the advantage of being an artist's child; like him, she received her first lessons at an early age from her father; and, like him, she moved from earliest childhood in an atmosphere of art and artists.” Vigée was blessed not only with inherited talent, but also beauty and a “winsome personality”
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This note was uploaded on 04/21/2008 for the course FRS 260 taught by Professor Levin during the Winter '07 term at Centre College.

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Elisabeth Louise Vigée - Elisabeth Louise Vige-LeBrun:...

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