Document Type

Research Paper


What started as an unlikely partnership would blossom into a powerful and close friendship between artist Elisabeth Louise Vigee Le Brun and Queen Ma1ie Antoinette. The former was able to enjoy increased career success and esteem with many thanks owed to the patronage of the latter who would expc1·ience a decline in general popularity. The working friendship of the two powerful women is shown under the guise of Vigee Le Brun' s famed portraiture. Vigee Le Brun's gentle, soft, and dew-like detailing and treatment of her subjects enabled her to portray Marie Antoinette in a fresh light. However, the artist's daring approach often" on her a fair amount of criticism at the Salon. Even in her familiarizing self-portraits the influence of the Salon and the pressing need to control audience perception of the object are evident. Study of Vigee Le Brun s po1traits of Marie Antoinette from the late 1770s through the 1780s reveals striking parallels to the artist's self-portraits of similar style. Both subjects reveal Vigee Le Brun s ingenious rendering of femininity as something both commanding and familiar. That the artist could represent herself and the Queen of France in similar ways illustrates the kind of relationship the two women shared. The comfort and ease felt by Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun in her interaction. with her most famous subject Marie Antoinette, are evident when portraits of the two women are compared throughout the artist's career and as their powerful relationship grew.

Publication Date

Fall 11-2014

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.