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Vigée-Lebrun was almost 27, at the height of her youthful beauty when she painted this charming self-portrait. But here, for the first time, she paints herself as an artist, fully equiped with brush and pallette. In addition, she dresses herself in the fashions of the day, with a large feather in her hat, a feature which almost becomes her trademark.
This picture shows a professional woman, at ease in the highest ranks of society, and self-confident enough to paint herself as belonging in that circle. Although from clearly middle-class roots (her father was a pastel-portrait painter), Vigée-Lebrun has used her artistic talents to carve out already by 1782 a most promising career.
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