Artist profile: Vigée Le Brun – Italy

Every month, I profile an artist who inspires my own art,
in several segments.

All images were sourced from The Art of Elizabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun.

Copy of the 1790 Uffizi self-portrait (painted by herself). The woman on the canvas is Marie Antoinette.
Copy of the 1790 Uffizi self-portrait. The woman on the canvas is Marie Antoinette.

Vigée Le Brun and her young daughter, Julie, found refuge from the horrors of the French Revolution in Italy. The Italians welcomed her like a super-star, inducting her into various art academies. The original of the portrait above was requested by the Uffizi Gallery (she painted three versions of it). She stayed in Rome for eight months, Naples for six months, and visited Florence, Turin, Venice, and Milan.

While in Naples, she painted the family of Marie Antoinette’s sister, Marie Caroline, queen of that city. Below are two of Caroline’s children, which I think are really nice, especially the princess. She went on to be Queen of Sardinia, while the prince later ruled Naples and Sicily.

Princess Maria Cristina di Borbone, 1790.
Princess Maria Cristina di Borbone (1790)

Prince Francesco di Borbone, 1790.
Prince Francesco di Borbone (1790)

Vigée Le Brun also painted the composer Giovanni Paisiello after attending one of his operas. I really like that she shows him at his clavichord, singing. With his eyes raised, he also evokes the image of religiously-inspired saints.
Giovanni Paisello at the clavicord, 1791.
Giovanni Paisello at the clavichord (1791)

Since her husband was still in France, Vigée Le Brun was free to keep all of her money. She meant to return to Paris in 1791, but news from French refugees dissuaded her. Instead, she traveled to Austria, where we will visit her next week.

Other parts in the Vigée Le Brun artist profile series
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