vigee-lebrun


Vigée Lebrun and Marie Antoinette

Their association began when Marie Theresa asked the Count Mercy to approach Marie Antoinette to request two full length portraits for a room filled with family portraits. Forgoing the usual court painters, Marie Antoinette chose someone new for this important commission: a rising star in art, the Parisian portraitist Madame Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, who had already painted Marie Antoinette’s brother in law, the Comte de Provence. It was to be the first painting in a series that was to immortalise both sitter and artist in the eyes of posterity: when one thinks of Marie Antoinette, it is the vision of her […]


The day the 18th century died?

Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, after Maria Cosway, 1783. Photo: National Portrait Gallery, London. The 30th March is a sad day for all fans of eighteenth century history as not one but THREE of the greatest and most glamorous luminaries of that exquisite age were to pass away on this day. First to pop their pretty silk clogs was Georgiana Spencer, Duchess of Devonshire, who passed away in 1806 at the age of forty eight, which is no age at all really is it? Poor Georgiana. She was one of those incredibly comely and charismatic women who appeared to have perfect […]


Gabrielle de Polignac’s granddaughter

A charming pastel portrait by Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun of Corisande Armandine Sophie Leonie de Gramont (1783-1865), the daughter of Aglaé de Polignac, Duchesse de Guiche and granddaughter of Yolande Gabrielle de Polastron, Duchesse de Polignac. After escaping the Terror with her family, Corisande was raised in England in the household of her grandmother’s great friend, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire and was brought up alongside Lady Caroline Ponsonby (later to become the infamous Lady Caroline Lamb). It is said that both Georgiana’s son, Hart, the future 6th Duke of Devonshire and Augustus Foster, the son of her rival, Lady Elizabeth Foster fell […]


Madame Vigée Lebrun in Naples

On the run from the French Revolution, the celebrated society portrait painter Madame Vigée-Lebrun went on a tour of some of the royal courts of Europe, where she painted portraits and recorded her impressions of her noble and royal sitters for a gleeful and very appreciative posterity. One of her first stops was the court of Marie Antoinette’s elder and favourite sister, Maria Carolina, Queen on Naples at the Palace of Caserta… The Countess Skavronska was as sweet and pretty as an angel. The famous Potemkin, her uncle, had loaded her with wealth, for which she had no use. Her […]


Before The Storm, 40,000 words…

I made a decision last week that I need to cut back the hours that I work (I’m self employed and work from home so this isn’t a problem, luckily for me) so that I have more time to work on my writing and as a result have spent a very happy weekend researching and getting two more chapters writtten. Okay, I will be a bit poor from now on but I think being happy and er artistically fulfilled is a lot more important than having lots of THINGS. Possibly. The story is coming along nicely now. The main characters […]


30th March – Georgiana, Beau Brummel and Vigée Lebrun

  Today, the 30th March is a sad one for all fans of eighteenth century history as not one but THREE of the greatest and most glamorous luminaries of that exquisite age were to pass away on this day… First to pop their pretty silk clogs was Georgiana Spencer, Duchess of Devonshire, who passed away in 1806 at the age of forty eight, which is no age at all really is it? Poor Georgiana. She was one of those incredibly comely and charismatic women who appeared to have perfect lives full of fashion, fun and frivolity, but were actually miserable […]