Feeling Le Brun

Self Portrait in a Straw Hat, - Elisabeth Le Brun
Self Portrait in a Straw Hat, – Elisabeth Le Brun

One of my most favorite painters is a woman named Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun.  She was born in 1755 and died in 1842.  She was born a French citizen.  As a teenager, she was already gaining recognition from prominent artists, aristocrats and even royalty.  She painted a portrait of none other than Marie Antoinette.  During the French Revolution she left the country, which led her French citizen status to be revoked and she was forced to divorce her husband.  She eventually returned to Paris and her citizenship (including her marriage) were renewed after some petitioning from fellow artists.

Aside from her life story, I just absolutely love her paintings. Considering the time she was alive, she clearly made enough of an impression to be invited into the mostly male circle of reputable artists. And how can I not see why? Every self portrait I’ve seen of her provides the allusion that she must have been having a blast.  Her moods are usually light but not too dainty. Her self portraits seem honest enough to make one believe that she must have painted herself as she really was.  She clearly was quite beautiful also.

This portrait of her is amazing in that it shows her many sides. A socially upward woman who also possesses some humor and humility, her palette being very important to her in life and spirit.  I don’t know if she was aloof to the rigors of life or not.  I prefer to imagine that she simply negotiated herself away from conflict to focus on simply creating beautiful things as being important enough to not be set aside. That perhaps was her breastplate and her triumph.

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