Marie Antoinette Online Forum

Favorite Vigee-Lebrun painting
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Author:  silverstar [ Sat Jul 25, 2009 12:48 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Favorite Vigee-Lebrun painting

"Mme Vigee le Brun was painting the portrait of Mme Du Barry at her elegant
chateau not far from Paris.
They suddenly heard the sound of canon fire... it was the Bastille being stormed by
the mob.
Mme Vigee le Brun wrote of these times in her memoirs (free on line well worth a read)
The portrait of Mme Du Barry is the last one she will ever paint."

The above is what I have noted down from my readings.
But I find it hard to believe that Mme Vigee le Brun suddenly gave up
portriat painting at that very point in time.... worth more investigation.

At that point in history , the elegant, carefree world the two ladies had
know.... came to an abrupt end.

At the time of having her portrait painted Mme Du Barry was age 46... yet still
ravishingly beautiful !
For my part I find it fascinating when women remain beautiful and attractive well into
middle age.... perhaps that's the secret of so many royal women and royal mistresses down the centuries..
eg Diane de Poitier.... Mme Pompadour... and I would suggest a modern
Royal who fits the bill.......... Sarah Ferguson !


Sarah in July 2009 ..... age 49

Author:  cherecoeur [ Sun Oct 25, 2009 11:13 pm ]
Post subject:  The Duchesse de Polignac

Vigee-Lebrun's portrait of the duchess from 1787 is my favorite: The lady's right hand ever so delicately touching the keyboard of a forte piano, perhaps to sound a tone, and holding a music score in her left hand. She looks to her left as if addressing an unseen audience preparing to hear her sing a favorite air or join in an ensemble. Her expression is everything one would say was serene, tender, sweet, innocent, and nostalgic in a moment when the nobility was exhausted, useless, anachronistic, and on the precipice of destruction. Her lovely dress, beautiful plumed hat, and wonderful coif contrast so beautifully with the heavy brocades and starch of the earlier styles show how the cult of simplicity has crushed the rococo and hints at the oncoming age of romanticism. This "snapshot" of a doomed actor in a doomed society is moving and sentimental in the extreme.

Author:  baron de batz [ Wed Oct 28, 2009 10:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Favorite Vigee-Lebrun painting

Of which Duchess? Could you post it?

Author:  Ludy [ Sun Sep 26, 2010 2:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Favorite Vigee-Lebrun painting

I do like Vigée Lebrun by and large. Especially the two grand, magnificient portraits where the Queen wears court dresses. She managed to highlight Marie-Antoinette's kindness, in spite of the overall formality. Lebrun tends to be somewhat insipid however. Chalon is right in pointing at the strinking resemblance between all the people she painted, and an her underlying narcissism. Her painting is not always very accurate and tends to blur facial features. When looking at Du Barry's portrait, I find it hard to really figure out how she actually looked like. And as far as the queen is concerned, I get the impression that every time her features are smoothed, to the extent that they lose all peculiarity and distinctiveness.

Author:  Délicate fleur [ Sun Sep 26, 2010 11:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Favorite Vigee-Lebrun painting

I very much agree with your observation from Chalon of the homogenous nature of the portraits - she picked a style that was flattering, gentle and 'nothing' and was like an early PR agent, 'airbrushing' the unique quirks of people to make them look sweet. I personally think Nattier and Drouais were a bit like this - they all have similiar styles although there are nods to the individual looks of the sitters.

I think Lebrun's work is very sweet and lovely; it serves its purpose as a flattering and unchallenging art. I imagine her sitters just wanted a good image of themselves to project to others, and that is no different to Photoshop or flattering set up photos today.

One point I would like to clarify: what do you mean by Lebrun's '....underlying narcissism' in the portraits?

Author:  Ludy [ Mon Sep 27, 2010 12:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Favorite Vigee-Lebrun painting

It's of course quite a questionable interpretation. Lebrun was a very beautiful woman and very proud to be so. In her Memoires, she complacentely dwells on it, expaining that when she painted in the Tuileries (as far as I remember), crowds of young men gathered to gawp at her. Chalon notices that she tended to paint all her models in such a way that make them look like her, which is quite true, if you think for instance about Polignac. But I don't know, I feel it's her style in general tends to made everyone look the same, and not especially like her.

Yes I agree with you, the same occurs with Nattier. His portraits are very conventional. I personnally like Duplessis and Latour.

Author:  Délicate fleur [ Mon Sep 27, 2010 1:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Favorite Vigee-Lebrun painting

Ludy wrote:
Yes I agree with you, the same occurs with Nattier. His portraits are very conventional. I personally like Duplessis and Latour.

Me too! I love Kucharski and Labille-Guiard as well.

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