Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun (1755-1842)
Primarily known for being Marie Antoinette’s favorite painter, Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun is one of the finest 18th-century French painters and female artists of all time. By age 15, Vigée Le Brun was earning enough money painting portraits to support both widowed mother and younger brother. After attending the Académie de Saint-Luc, she married Jean-Baptiste LeBrun, a painter and art dealer who helped her gain more recognition in the art world. Vigée LeBrun was not only known for her remarkable talent, but also for her understanding and sympathy for her sitters. Marie Antoinette appointed her to the French Royal Academy in 1783, making her one of only four female academicians. This appointment gave Vigée LeBrun a high artistic, social, and political profile. Once the French Revolution came Vigée LeBrun’s was forced to flee France with her nine-year-old daughter due to her close relationship with the Queen. After fleeing France, Vigée LeBrun continued to paint portraits for members of royal families, specifically the royal families of Naples, Russia and Prussia.