Vigée-Le Brun (b. 1755 Paris, d. 1842 Paris), was a French,
Her father, a portrait painter, died when she was
twelve, so she taught herself to paint by copying the paintings of
established masters in collections around Paris. Later in life,
after studying the paintings of
Peter Paul Rubens,
she adopted his technique of painting layers of brilliant color
on wood panels to achieve animated, polished, and supremely
attractive portraits of European royalty and aristocracy.
In 1778 Vigée-Le Brun painted a portrait of the queen,
Marie-Antoinette, and soon became her close friend and supporter.
Through her relationship with the queen, Vigée-Le Brun
realized her greatest ambition: membership in the prestigious and
almost entirely male Académie Royale. Vigée-Le Brun
had a flair for innovative poses, an unerring instinct for costume,
and the ability to capture a likeness with relative ease.
With the outbreak of the French Revolution, Vigée-Le Brun
was forced to flee France for twelve years. She traveled throughout
Europe, painting numerous portraits for aristocratic families from
Russia to Italy. During her lifetime, Vigée-Le Brun was
recognized as one of Europe's foremost portrait painters. The high
fees she charged allowed her to retire in comfort upon her return
to France in 1805, when she remarked that her “... only true
happiness has been in painting.”