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Overview

Madame Vigée Le Brun was part of the world she painted and, like her aristocratic patrons, was under threat of the guillotine after the revolution. She was forced to flee Paris in disguise in 1789. She had been first painter to Queen Marie–Antoinette and her personal confidant. The queen had intervened to ensure her election to the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, an honor accorded few women.

More than two–thirds of Vigée Le Brun's surviving paintings are portraits. Most, like this one, are of women and children who are idealized —flattered—into a kind of family resemblance. These unrelated young women, for example, could easily be mistaken for sisters. Their garments, airy silks and iridescent taffetas, are almost more individual than their faces, although both women were friends of the artist. The picture was hailed as a tribute to friendship and maternal love when it was shown at the Salon of 1787.

Provenance

One of the sitters, Victurnienne Delphine Nathalie, marquise de Rougé [1759-1828, née Rochechouart Mortemart], Paris, Château de la Bellière, Château de Beaune-la-Rolande, and Château de Moreuil; by inheritance to her son, comte Adrien Gabriel Victurnien de Rougé [1782-1838], Château de Guyencourt, Cuyencourt-sur-Noye (Somme); by inheritance to his son, comte Armel-Jean-Victurnien de Rougé [1813-1898]; by inheritance to his son, Armel-Marie-Fernand de Rougé [b. 1847], Paris and Château de Saint-Symphorien-des-Monts (Manche), until at least 1914; by inheritance to his son, comte Jean de Rougé [1880-1960], Château de Saint-Symphorien; presumably to his nephew, Charles-Edouard de Cassagnes de Beaufort de Miramon-Pesteils [b. 1930]; purchased 1960 by (Wildenstein & Co., Inc., New York); purchased 24 June 1964 by the Bay Foundation, New York; gift 1964 to NGA.

Associated Names
Wildenstein & Co., Inc.
Exhibition History
1787
Salon of 1787, Paris, no. 98.
1963
Style, Truth and the Portrait, The Cleveland Museum of Art, 1963, no. 67, repro.
1964
Accessions and Proposals, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, no. 10.
1976
The Eye of Thomas Jefferson, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1976, no. 261, repro.
1982
Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun 1755-1842, Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, 1982, no. 24, repro., as The Marquise de Pezay and the Marquise de Rougé With Her Sons.
2005
Baillio, Joseph. The Arts of France from François 1er to Napoléon 1er. (Exh. cat. Wildenstein & Co.) New York, 2005: 74, 61, repro., fig. 67.
2011
Female Creators: Women Artists from the Century of Madame Vigée Le Brun, Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, Tokyo, 2011, no. 64, repro.
Bibliography
1787
Les grandes prophéties du grand Nostradamus. . . . Paris, 1787: 25.
1787
Potocki, Stanislas Kostka. Lettre d’un étranger sur le Salon de 1787. Paris, 1787: 17-18.
1787
Robin, Jean Baptiste. L’ami des artistes au salon. Paris, 1787: 35.
1835
Vigée Le Brun, Élisabeth Louise. Souvenirs de Madame Louise-Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun. . . . 3 vols. Paris, 1835 – 1837: 1:92.
1881
“Discours des morts sur les tableaux exposés en 1787.” In Collection de pièces sur les beaux-arts (1673-1808) . Ed. by M. Deloynes. Paris, 1881: vol. 15.
1908
Nolhac, Pierre de. Madame Vigée-Le Brun, peintre de la reine Marie-Antoinette (1755 – 1842). Catalogue by H. Pannier. Paris, 1908: 124, 251.
1915
Helm, William Henry. Vigée-Lebrun, 1755 – 1842: Her Life, Works and Friendships. London,n.d. [1915]: 125, 215, 219.
1919
Blum, André. Madame Vigée-Lebrun, peintre des grandes dames du xviii e siècle. Paris, 1919: 98, 105.
1965
Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 137.
1966
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds. A Pageant of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. 2 vols. New York, 1966: 2:326, color repro.
1966
Davidson, Ruth. “In the Museums:Paintings.” Antiques 89, no. 1 (Jan. 1966): 136, repro.
1966
D’Otrange Mastai, M.-L. “Vigée-Lebrun Group Portrait.” Conn 161 (1966): 277, repro.
1966
Gazette des Beaux-Arts 57 (1966): repro., cat. 222.



1966
“Recent Donations to Museums in U.S.A.” Apollo 83, no. 49 (March 1966): 235, repro.
1967
Bischoff, Ilse. “Vigée-Lebrun and the Women of the French Court.” Antiques 92, no. 5 (Nov. 1967): 711, repro., 712, fig. 10.
1968
“Accessions of American and Canadian Museums.” Art Quarterly 28 (Aug. 1968): 8, repro.
1968
European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1968: 124, repro.
1974
Tufts, Eleanor. Our Hidden Heritage: Five Centuries of Women Artists. New York, 1974: 132, repro., 133, fig. 71.
1975
European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 366, repro.
1975
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1975: 343, no. 466, color repro.
1981
Baillio, Joseph. “Le dossier d’une oeuvre d’actualité politique: Marie-Antoinette et ses enfants par Madame Vigée Le Brun.” L’Oeil 308 (March 1981) and 310 (May 1981): 59, 91 nn. 28 – 29, color repro., 57, fig. 8.
1982
Sutton, Denys. “Madame Vigée Le Brun: A Survivor of the Ancien Régime.” Apollo 116, no. 245 (July 1982): 30, color repro., 27, pl. 7.
1982
Tufts, Eleanor. “Vigée Le Brun.” Art Journal 42, no. 4 (Winter 1982): 338.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 341, no. 463, color repro.
1985
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 425, repro.
1986
Lesko, Diane. “Elisabeth Vigée Lebrun’s Julie Lebrun as Flora.” Pharos (1986 – 1987): 6, repro., fig. 6.
1986
Mittler, Gene A. Art in Focus. Peoria, Ill., 1986: 52, repro., fig. 3.11.
1986
Schama, Simon. “The Domestication of Majesty: Royal Family Portraiture, 1500 – 1850.” In Art and History: Images and Their Meaning. Ed. Robert I. Rotberg and Theodore K. Rabb. Cambridge, 1986: 177.
1989
Wasserstein, Wendy. “Portraits by a Lady.” Art & Antiques 6, no. 7 (Dec. 1989): 108 – 109, color repro.
1990
Gournay, Brigitte. “Maisons et hôtels appartenant a l’Hôpital des Incurables, 101 – 107 rue du Bac.” In Le Faubourg Saint-Germain, la rue du Bac, études offertes à Colette Lamy-Lassalle. Paris, 1990: 64, 73 n. 62, 228, no. 90, 142, color repro. (detail).
1992
Radisich, Paula Rea. “Que peut définir les femmes?: Vigée-Lebrun’s Portraits of an Artist.” 18th Century Studies 25 (Summer 1992): 446 n. 13, 451 n. 1, 452 n. 24, 447, repro., fig. 2.
1994
Bachmann, Donna G., and Sherry Piland. Women Artists: An Historical, Contemporary and Feminist Bibliography. Metuchen, N.J., 1994: 138, repro., fig. 9.
1997
Mitchell, Jerrine E. "Picturing Sisters: 1790 Portraits by J.L. David." Eighteenth-Century Studies 31, no. 2 (Winter 1997-1998): 194, fig. 14.
2000
Kirsh, Andrea, and Rustin S. Levenson. Seeing Through Paintings: Physical Examination in Art Historical Studies. Materials and Meaning in the Fine Arts 1. New Haven, 2000: 8, under fig. 2.
2004
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 261, no. 213, color repro.
2005
The Arts of France from François Ier to Napoléon Ier. A Centennial Celebration of Wildenstein's Presence in New York. Exh. cat. Wildenstein & Co., Inc., New York, 2005: 61, fig. 67, 74 (not in the exhibition).
2009
Conisbee, Philip, et al. French Paintings of the Fifteenth through the Eighteenth Century. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 2009: no. 93, 436-442, color repro.
2014
Aldecoa, Christiane de. "Élisabeth Louis Vigée Le Brun (Paris 1755-1842) de l’Académie Royale de Paris, de Rouen, De Saint-Luc, de Rome et d’Arcadie, de Parme et de Bologne, de Saint-Pétersbourg, de Berlin, de Genève et Avignon Autoportrait, ou une vie pour la peinture." Les Cahiers d'Histoire de l'Art no. 12 (2014) : 52, 54, color fig. 4.
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