Vigee Le Brun

France • 1755−1842

Biography and information

French portraitists of the eighteenth century Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun (Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun), the beautiful and shrewd social climber, sincerely adored Queen Marie Antoinette and to the disgust could not stand the Empress Catherine II. Why – it will be clear from the biography of the artist.

Marie Elisabeth Louise Vigee-Lebrun was born in 1755, the year the family is less fortunate and not particularly wealthy artist, a native of bourgeois "bottom" Louis Vigee. The girl began to draw almost from infancy. Father to guide her first steps, but, unfortunately, died fairly young. Mother, characterized by nature quarrelsome and cruel, she soon married again, and very young Elizabeth is out of sight, sent to learn to draw and to earn a living.

Paintings and drawings by Elizabeth Vigee possessed one valuable quality – at first sight to please the public. For 16 years she has already had regular customers. Some particularly nimble fans were recorded specifically for the sessions, portraying in order to win the affection of the artist – the person cheerful and very pretty.

Frivolous appearance, however, easy to get along with the rational character of Elizabeth. Originating from family, far from the wealth and nobility, at the age of 21 she was married by calculation for the companion in the scenic shop of Jean-Baptiste Lebrun. Artist Lebrun was so-so, but the merchant in painting and rogues – extraordinary. The calculation of the newly minted Madame Vigee-Lebrun justified: it has increased not just the number of orders, but also rank customers. Now Elizabeth was invited to write literally "in the best houses of Paris", it favoured the rich family of de Verdun, and even some of the Bourbon dynasty.

In the end, a clear and highly idealized models from the style of Vigee-Lebrun becomes popular in Versailles. She is invited to write to the spouse of Louis XVI. Portraits Of Marie-Antoinette waist, in full growth, surrounded by children and other – Vigee-Lebrun will write at least thirty.

The last French Queen remained in history with the phrase "they Have no bread? Let them eat cake!" Of course, creative manner Vigee-Lebrun (surplus molasses and not enough "bread" is alive and real flesh) came it taste. Marie-Antoinette made Elizabeth their companion, they became inseparable, together to take walks in the Palace garden, had fun and even sang duets.

Isn't it strange that Vigee-Lebrun, social status is only representative of the "third estate", suddenly received such an honor, almost intimate proximity to the monarchy? Nothing surprising if to remember that "Austrian" Maria-Antoinette has always been perceived in France a stranger and felt, respectively. She was sympathetic. And Vigee-Lebrun was able to so subtly flatter, and at the words, and especially his vignettes painting.

Life Vigee-Lebrun kept a diary. Part of her lengthy memoir published. Although they are usually characterized as "extremely lady" (read: self-absorbed and superficial), yet a number of valuable observations about her contemporaries from the notes Vigee-Lebrun can be gleaned. "Cloying Eulogy and a bit of poison" can be described as those characteristics that she handed out right and left. About Marie-Antoinette, for example, Vigee-Lebrun wrote: "Queen of the high and wonderfully proportioned, though somewhat overweight".

Rose bloody dawn of the French revolution, was drawing great upheaval. Portrait of Madam Dubarry, mistress of Louis XV, Vigee-Lebrun was added to the sounds of a thundering cannonade. It was not yet clear what will happen, and very few people knew that du Barry and Marie Antoinette if you do not expect the gallows, the guillotine. But sensitive Vigee-Lebrun was already Packed things. Under the pretext that she was needed immediately to save a teenage daughter Jeanne-Julieshe hastily left France.

Thus began the story is long, but not torturous journey Vigee-Lebrun across Europe, from Holland to Austria and from Italy to Russia. The glory of the artist was ahead of her, many of whom she had known in Paris, also the rebellious left France. And self-portraits with her daughter (1, 2)that threatened soon even surpass her mother in beauty, served for the artist is the best. Except noble or just rich women, eager to immortalize themselves in art, she wrote, and a lot of royalty: Dutch monarch,Willem I, the last king of Poland Stanislaw Poniatowskimembers of the Russian Imperial family.

But women's portraits-compliments still prevail. And hardly Vigee-Lebrun was peculiar painful artistic endeavours. "Portrait of the Marquise Gabriela Rolland", "Portrait of Countess Varvara Golovina", "Portrait of Countess Catherine Skavronskaya" and even "Portrait of Grand Duchess Elizaveta Alexeevna"... If they something differ from each other significantly, so only the outfits – Parisienne Madame Elizabeth understood in this sense, she kroil, came up with a model and established fashion. But these are perfect and surprisingly similar face with a gorgeous oval! But they are the same type of expression a little bored beauties with wide-open eyes! Their identical stacked fashion hair (short curls on top, long strands from the bottom) – we've seen it all. Oh Yes! On the self-portraits of most of Mrs. Vigee-Lebrun.

Vigee-Lebrun lucky to be born beautiful. It is great felt to write any woman so that she looked beautiful on the canvas, even some not being in her life. Of course, it was a situation of pure water, the gloss of the XVIII century. And, of course, a little bit about painting I saw that the figure Vigee-Lebrun elegant, but inaccurate. Its flavor is pleasant, but shallow. But there was a little. Most naively took the beauty in the paintings of Vigee-Lebrun for the beauty and applauded her.

Among the angry critics Vigee-Lebrun was suddenly Catherine II. Just arrived in Petersburg the artist never tired of praising her court. The Empress ordered the sample pair portrait granddaughters Alexandra and Elena, daughters of Paul I. Extremely conceited Vigee-Lebrun felt elation. She wrote in her diary that the color of the faces of the girls as delicate "if they eat ambrosia".

The portrait was executed soon. Not too worried about the transfer of the individuality of princesses, Vigee-Lebrun chose a traditional manner of "sweetness competes with plenitelnogo". In the end, this method of transmission nature still never fails.

However, in the case of the Russian autocrat has been different.

In one of the private letters of Catherine the great with indignation wrote about the portrait of Alexandra and Elena: "Ms. Vigee-Lebrun makes both to curl up on the sofa, twist the neck of the younger, gives both the look of pugs, basking in the sun, or if you want two nasty little cavaroc... in short, not enough, not only similarities, but the two sisters are so disfigured that there are people who can't tell which is older and which is younger. Supporters of Ms. Vigee-Lebrun praised to the skies all this, but, in my opinion, that's too bad, because in this picture-a portrait no similarities, no taste, no nobility..."

That was fit for Marie Antoinette, not you in his short life a single book to the end, could not satisfy the enlightened Catherine, brought up at the majestic painting Baroque not priemlima empty decorative Rococo.

Proximity to the Russian, as French, the yard failed.

Vigee-Lebrun complained about court intrigues, and the notes again mentioned the "excessive fullness" – now the Russian monarch, and the "extreme deformity" of Paul I, but lived in Petersburg quite happy six years, marred by the end of the stay except that grown Jeanne-Juliecontrary to the parent's will, is not enough profitable jumped married.

In France the artist has also managed to return with honor, by the invitation coming to power of Napoleon.

And yet phenomenally her ability to maneuver, depending on political circumstances. When in 1814, the Emperor Alexander I entered Paris as the winner of Napoleon's troops, aging Vigee-Lebrun with pathos presented him with a picture "The Genius Of Alexander I", even though the work was hastily converted from Polish portrait of Prince Henry Lubomirski 20-year-old.

Died Vigee-Lebrun in the same place and was born in Paris, before reaching two weeks to 87 years.

Author: Anna Yesterday