Kudos for this summer’s blockbuster exhibition are going to the National Gallery in Ottawa for Elisabeth Louise Vigee Le Brun, 1755-1842, running through September 11, 2016.
Vigee Le Brun was Marie Antoinette’s portraitist and a very fine painter she was indeed. There are roughly 90 paintings included in the exhibition including some of the beautiful self-portraits that Vigee Lebrun used as advertising. Works on exhibition are being loaned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, which also helped organize the show and the Reunion des musée nationaux-Grand Palais, Paris and Queen Elizabeth II.
Vigee Le Brun was largely self taught and learned how to paint by studying other painters. Her rise to fame as a painter of the royal court and to the aristocracy in general is a testament to her superior abilities, given that the 18th century was very much a man’s world. Her portraits are striking for their use of light and their combined depiction of sensuality and immediacy.
Le Brun fled revolutionary France one step ahead of the guillotine and then proceeded to establish herself in a variety of European capitals before finally returning to France, when things settled down.