Elizabeth Vigée-Lebrun:
Self-Portrait


Click on the picture to see an enlarged version.

    • Oil on Canvas: 1808
    • 16 1/4 x 13 inches
    • Private Collection

Vigée-Lebrun made her first visit to Switzerland in 1807 and spent 2 weeks at Coppet with the celebrated novelist, Madame De Stael, a visit which produced a famous portrait. The following summer she returned to Switzerland to attend the "Festival of the Shepherds", held only once each century. She stayed with a M. and Mme. Konig in Untersee. This visit occasioned this late self-portait. In her memoirs, she explained that her friends would accept no money for the visit. "The only payment that I was able to make M. Konig for his hospitality was a self portrait in oil that I sent them from Paris".

This is one of four self portraits she painted after being permitted to return to Paris in1 1802 . Painted when Vigée-Lebrun was 53 years of age, it shows a face no longer young, but still beautiful, and filled with vitality, good humor, and keen intelligence. It is a remarkably candid picture, with no attempt being made to hide the changes time and work had produced. Her double chin and pudgy face sit above a body that is clearly expanding as well. But it is still the face of a professional woman; there is nothing frivolous or luxurious in her clothes. Again, I find it refreshing to compare this with Gabille-Guiard's self-portraits.

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