Adélaïde Labille-Guiard (1749-1803)
The daughter of a Parisian merchant, Labille-Guiard was admitted to the Académie de Saint-Luc in 1769 at 20 years old. The Académie de Saint-Luc, partially known for its acceptance of female members, allowed Labille-Guiard to practice art professionally. Gaining recognition was extremely difficult for female artists in the 18th century, female artists such as Labille-Guiard and Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun had to overcome the unwelcoming male-dominated art world. The bitter rivalry between Labille-Guiard and Vigée-Le Brun was invented and perpetuated by male artists and critics who felt threatened by the two female artists work. After opening up her own studio in the early 1780s, Labille-Guiard gained royal and aristocratic recognition for her pastels, oil paintings, and miniatures. Upon her admission to the French Royal Academy in 1783, Labille-Guiard was awarded the title, a government pension, and an apartment at the Louvre. Soon after, Labille-Guiard took on students and devoted much of her time to the training and education of female artists. Labille-Guiard was a lifelong champion for women’s rights and worked toward reforming the Academy’s policies towards women. A supporter of the French Revolution, Labille-Guiard remained in Paris throughout the turbulent era, winning new patrons and creating portraits of deputies of the National Assembly.