Varvara Ivanovna Ladomirsky

Elisabeth Louise Vigée Lebrun (French, 1755 - 1842)

1800. Oil on canvas, 25 x 21 3/4". 1963.019

The most celebrated woman artist of her time, Elisabeth Vigée Lebrun combined Rococo elegance with Neoclassical ideals of simplicity and dignity in her brilliant portrait style. Vigée Lebrun’s considerable talent supported her through many personal hardships, which included being married to a compulsive gambler and enduring exile from France after the start of the revolution. She eventually traveled to Russia, where she painted this portrait. The sitter may have been the woman whom the artist described in her memoirs as “the most beautiful woman” she had ever painted. The subject’s Neoclassical gown is suggestive of both the revival of the ancient Greek style and the widespread renewal of interest in antiquity at the time of this painting.

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