Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun

Countess Anna Ivanovna Tolstaya

1796
Vigée Le Brun fled France at the beginning of the Revolution. She spent the next decade in exile, much of it in St. Petersburg, where she painted Countess Tolstaya (1774–1825). The artist’s portraits are marked by a sense of apparent directness and intimacy – as if we meet the sitters as equals, sharing a bond of mutual understanding. The Countess, casually posed, is at one with her wild surroundings; setting aside convention, she wears an unusually simple dress, inspired by Greek and Roman examples. The portrait holds out the promise of a life freed from society’s constrictions and more in sympathy with nature – a vital element of Enlightenment thought. Frame: running moulding with carved ornament, gilded. France or Russia, c. 1800
Title
Countess Anna Ivanovna Tolstaya
Date
1796
Medium
Painting
Materials
oil on canvas
Dimensions
137.7 x 104 cm
Nationality
French
Credit line
Gift of an anonymous Canadian collector, 2015
Accession number
46900