Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Marie Antoinette & Vigée Le Brun

Marie Antoinette with Rose, oil on canvas 1783-1785
by Élisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun (1755-1842)
(public domain via Wikimedia Commons) 

This past Friday I saw my favourite portrait painting live for the first time. This was my third time visiting Château de Versailles, and this time they had a temporary exhibition China at Versailles where they are exhibiting a collection of items and objects from the 18th century, from the era of diplomatic and artistic relationships between China and France.

I have no recall of the other objects exhibited because I was so deeply moved by the painting in question. I have a tiny printed version of the painting next to my work table in my ateljé. The moment I saw the original art work, I noticed how little I knew about the actual painting or the painter of the portrait!

Élisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun was a daughter of a rococo era hairdresser. She was an aristocrat pleaser, a minor public scandal causer, a French Revolution surviver and she was the most important paintress of the 18th century. She was an established portrait painter already at the age of twenty-four and painted over thirty portraits of Marie Antoinette. 

Wishlist: a book of Madame Le Brun's memoirs!

Few of my other favourite things: 
Petite, silk embroided gardening tools at the Petit Trianon. Those were unfortunately taken for a restoration this time. Make sure to visit also the Grand Trianon and Hameau de la Reine while at the Château.

My tip for visiting Versailles
I warmly recommend preparing a piquenique lunch with you. You can bring wine and éclairs, anything you would ever want to eat in the beautiful garden of Versailles. You will be requested to leave your food at the cloakroom while you'll take a tour at the castle but afterwards, you can just pick up your belongings and head to the garden searching for the best spot among the swimming swans, koi ponds and beautiful statues!