|Vigee-LeBrunn, Peace Bringing Back Abundance, 1780, exhibited at Salon of 1783|
(Musee du Louvre)
Prior to their acceptance into the academy they were both members of the Academie de Saint-Luc which was the ancient artist's guild. One of the original reasons for establishing the Academie de peinture et de sculpture was to distinguish real artists from the artisans and provide them with the necessary teachings besides drawing and painting to allow them to become the artistic geniuses they were. Also the Academie was state sponsored and artist got paid by the government so they could create without being beholden to trade. Members of the Academy of Saint-Luc were frowned upon because of their involvement with the trade.
Although Vigee-LeBrun aspired to be a history painter, the most prestigious of the genres, she could only be accepted as genre painter, two steps lower than male academicians. Since women could not work from live models and were not educated in anatomy, they could not become history painters which would preclude them from having all the privileges the male artists gained like studio space and an allowance. Although it was impossible for her to be a history painter, Vigee-LeBrun still produced a work of art that could actually very well have been accepted as such.
In Peace Bringing Back Abundance, Vigee-LeBrun represents two allegorical figures using traditional symbols, Peace on the right garbed in darker colors is wearing a crown of laurels on her dark hair, and carrying an olive branch, while Abundance is blond wearing white and gold and bearing a cornucopia full of fruits, flowers in her hair and holding ears of wheat, her fertility is pronounced with her exposed breast. France had been a supporter of the American War of Revolution and this painting underscores that involvement.
Vigee-LeBrun showed incredible artistry in this piece but she was admitted into the Academie with reluctance plus pressure from the crown, because of her husband's profession of being an art dealer. It seems the Academie did all they can to try to dissuade female artists from joining their ranks but one or two exceptional artists still managed to get by.