|Elisabeth Louise Vigee-LeBrun, Portrait of Marie-Antoinette, 1778-1779|
(Kunsthistoriches Museum, Vienna)
In this rococo painting of the notorious queen who was blamed to almost single-handedly, bring down the ancien regime Vigee-LeBrun depicts Marie-Antoinette in all her royal glory. The queen is shown standing in a very elaborate dress of satin and lace with huge paniers holding out the skirts attesting to her noble status. The red velvet covered table that holds the crown and the bust of her husband Louis XVI seen on top of the column to her right are also some of the elements befitting a queen that are incorporated into the painting.
This is the first portrait Vigee-LeBrun painted of the queen from real life. Similar to a history painting, it is a huge work involving many components and would have taken several sittings. Vigee-LeBrun wrote her memoirs explaining how she proceeded with making portraits of royalty, starting with trying to make the sitter very comfortable. In order to avoid the sitter appearing too tall, she made sure that the head was not placed too high on the canvas. Another important factor to take into consideration was for the model to be presented in a space where she did not overtake it.
|Vigee-LeBrun, The artist's maid, 1778|
(Musee Carnivalet, Paris)
Queen Marie-Antoinette on the
Way to the Guillotine, 1793
(Musee du Louvre)