5 February 2014
Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun, as seen in the lower painting in a self-portrait, was a celebrated and very successful portrait artist. She made a name for herself painting royalty in the 18th and early 19th centuries, Marie Antoinette in particular. In spite of her success, her life was not easy, and her autobiography makes for very interesting reading. I have a fascination for the social history of those times. What was daily life really like? We get just a glimpse of it in novels such as the ones by Jane Austen, and in many contemporary autobiographies. Yet what was common for the ones living in those times would not have been written, even though it would have been extraordinary reading for us.
I wanted to put myself into a classic portrait, as I had done for others, and was considering who's portrait it would be, when I discovered a book in the library about Vigee Le Brun. Female artists were not common in her time, and her story is compelling, especially for me as an artist. She painted a number of self-portraits, so finding one that she did at an age close to mine became the perfect fit.
So now that I have read about her life and painted her work, I really can't say that I know what it would have been like to be in her place, but at least I have an idea of what I would have looked like to be in her place. Fascinating stuff for sure.