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Self Portrait in a Staw Hat, by Elisabeth Vigee Labrun

Happy International Women’s Day! I am so happy that there is a day to celebrate courageous and wonderful women all around the world, regardless of what stage of their life that they are in. Let’s celebrate the women in our lives who are our mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, relatives, colleagues, and creative that we look up to! For this international women’s day, I wanted to honor the women who are part of our community of the visionary artist salon! If you haven’t yet joined our Facebook group, you can do so here! We’d love to see what you’re working on, be invited to your exhibitions, and hear your struggles and triumphs.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, I like to focus on one woman a preeminent artist who was a favorite portraitist of Marie Antoinette, Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun.  Elisabeth was an independent artist, mother, wife and world traveler, as well as frequent Salon host.   Her subject matter and color palette can be classified as Rococo, but her style is aligned with the emergence of Neoclassicism. 

Marie Antoniette, by Elisabeth Vigee Labrun

She enjoyed the patronage of European aristocrats, actors, and writers, and was elected to art academies in ten cities.  As her career blossomed, Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun was granted patronage by Marie Antoinette.   She painted more than 30 portraits of the queen and her family,  leading to the common perception that she was the official portraitist of Marie Antoinette. At the Salon of 1783, Vigée Le Brun exhibited Marie-Antoinette in a Muslin Dress (1783), sometimes called Marie-Antoinette en gaulle, in which the queen chose to be shown in a simple, informal white cotton garment. 

She led a long and interesting life, escaping the French revolution when the tables turned on Marie Antoinette and making a home for herself in Russia for quite a long time before returning to her home country of France.   And accomplished artist, she was known not only for her brilliant self portraits and masterful execution Color and form, but also subtly influenced the fashion of France. She was the one who, through her own style of wearing a simple white dress with a colored sash, influence Marie Antoinette to do the same, and when her portrait was done in that style, it became all the rage as the fashionable style. 

Vigée Le Brun,  Marie-Antoinette in a Muslin Dress 

Vigée La Brun created some 660 portraits and 200 landscapes.   In addition to many works in private collections, her paintings are owned by major museums, such as the LouvreHermitage MuseumNational Gallery in London, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and many other collections in continental Europe and the United States.  She lived 1755-1842.

There is a fabulous dramatized documentary on Netflix about Elisabeth you might enjoy, The Fabulous Life of Elisabeth Vigee La Brun, in honor of International Women’s Day! 

Elisabeth lived during a time in France where salons, from which the Visionary Artist’s Salon is inspired by, were just gaining popularity. You will see in the film dramatizations of the salons that Elizabeth held within her own apartments, sometimes dramatic affairs with costumes, feasts, and artists, writers, and thinkers of the day present.  The Parisian salons of the 18th century allowed women to play a positive role in the public sphere of French society. Salons provided a unique outlet where women’s ideas could be heard. Women, in addition to conversing with men at an academic level, had the power to influence the topics major philosophers studied. The cross-class communication that salons fostered also allowed social groups, which had never before interacted, to share ideas. Women’s contributions to the development of intellectual and scientific ideas through their role as salonierres marked a cultural shift in how women should be accepted and involved in society. 

Above, Madam Grande, by Elisabeth Vigee Labrun

I hope this little history lesson has inspired you and empowered you to create your own epic story if you are a female artist! Speaking of which, the luminary or the salon will be opening in a few weeks, and if you are a female contemporary realist artist, this may be the program to ship to you into a higher plan that you have been looking for. In this program, I am sharing  how to build a profitable, authentic art career while embracing your own feminine spirit.  You can get on the waitlist to learn more about it by clicking here! Thank you so much for shining bright, and happy International Women’s Day!

You’re also invited to my Sunday watercolor paint along!  Register for the event here, held from 3-5pm on Sunday, March 21. 

With love, light, and creativity,

Jessica Libor
Artistic Coach
The Visionary Artist’s Salon