Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun – The first major international retrospective of the greatest portraitist of the eighteenth century, now showing at the National Gallery of Canada, closes September 11th, 2016

OTTAWA, Sept. 1, 2016 /CNW/ – Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (1755-1842), is widely regarded as the best portrait painter of the eighteenth century and among the most important of all women artists, for her masterful use of colour and her new approach to portraiture. Despite her artistic achievements, she is only now getting her first retrospective. The sumptuous exhibition was organized by the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Réunion des musées nationaux–Grand Palais, Paris, with outstanding support from the Musée national des châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon. The National Gallery of Canada is the last stop on the year-long tour, which comes to an end September 11th, 2016.

Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (1755-1842), which attracted more than 165,000 visitors to the Met, features 87 works on loan from such prestigious institutions as the Louvre and the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. The self-taught artist built an exceptional career for herself in a profession dominated by men, painting members of the European aristocracy and royal families. Of particular interest is Marie-Antoinette and her Children from the Château de Versailles, which is making its first appearance outside France. Visitors will also delight in Marie-Antoinette en chemise, the painting that caused a scandal at the Salon of 1783; and of Marie-Antoinette with a rose the portrait that replaced it. Vigée Le Brun established her reputation as the most highly paid portraitist with her painting of Prince Henryk Lubomirski as Love of Glory, considered the most beautiful likeness of its time.

The exhibition recounts the singular journey and exceptional artistic virtuosity of the master portraitist – from her beginnings, at the age of 15, when she had to help support her younger brother and mother after her father’s untimely death, to the last years of the Ancien Régime. Exiled from France because of her close association with Queen Marie-Antoinette, Vigée Le Brun traveled to Rome, Naples, Vienna, St. Petersburg and Berlin and earned her living painting members of the royal families. She returned to Paris after a twelve-year absence to a world unrecognizable to her, and continued to paint while working diligently on writing her memoir, Souvenirs.