The first major international retrospective of the greatest portraitist of the eighteenth century, now showing at the National Gallery of Canada, closes September 11th, 2016.
Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (1755-1842), is widely regarded as the best portrait painter of the eighteenth century and among the most important of all women artists, for her masterful use of colour and her new approach to portraiture. Despite her artistic achievements, she is only now getting her first retrospective. The sumptuous exhibition was organized by the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Réunion des musées nationaux–Grand Palais, Paris, with outstanding support from the Musée national des châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon. The National Gallery of Canada is the last stop on the year-long tour, which comes to an end September 11th, 2016.
Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (1755-1842), which attracted more than 165,000 visitors to the Met, features 87 works on loan from such prestigious institutions as the Louvre and the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. The self-taught artist built an exceptional career for herself in a profession dominated by men, painting members of the European aristocracy and royal families. Of particular interest is Marie-Antoinette and her Children from the Château de Versailles, which is making its first appearance outside France. Visitors will also delight in Marie-Antoinette en chemise, the painting that caused a scandal at the Salon of 1783; and of Marie-Antoinette with a rose the portrait that replaced it. Vigée Le Brun established her reputation as the most highly paid portraitist with her painting of Prince Henryk Lubomirski as Love of Glory, considered the most beautiful likeness of its time.
The exhibition recounts the singular journey and exceptional artistic virtuosity of the master portraitist – from her beginnings, at the age of 15, when she had to help support her younger brother and mother after her father’s untimely death, to the last years of the Ancien Régime. Exiled from France because of her close association with Queen Marie-Antoinette, Vigée Le Brun traveled to Rome, Naples, Vienna, St. Petersburg and Berlin and earned her living painting members of the royal families. She returned to Paris after a twelve-year absence to a world unrecognizable to her, and continued to paint while working diligently on writing her memoir, Souvenirs.
For more information about the exhibition, please visit gallery.ca/vigeelebrun.
“Vigée Le Brun had an amazing talent as a portraitist. You can't miss this exhibition. People must see it!” – M.-C. M., St-Sauveur, QC
“I particularly liked the historic aspect, her travels in connection with history and the political context. I loved the modernity and the beauty of her paintings - color, movement and texture – it’s rich!” – J. Séguin, Longueuil, QC
“It’s an amazing exhibition. It portrays all Vigée Le Brun’s best abilities. I noticed the places where the works are coming from – the Louvre, the Hermitage, and other impressive museums… It’s unreal. It’s a must see exhibition!” – A. Nita, Ottawa, ON
“She had an amazing talent, and a long and fruitful career. It’s quite a story! She is an inspiration for professional women.” – M.W., Ottawa, ON
Make a Paper Wig: until September 5, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Kids and their families can explore the paintings in the Vigée Le Brun exhibition and then use their experiences as inspiration for making art. A complete schedule of activities planned around the exhibition is available at gallery.ca/vigeelebrun.
Visitors can enhance their experience by listening to an Audio guide presented by Paul Lang, Chief Curator at the Gallery, while they explore the exhibition.
The exhibition Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (1755-1842) is accompanied by an extensively illustrated and documented catalogue. This 289-page publication aims to show how the artist’s life and work continue to offer a vast and compelling field of investigation. It is available in a hardcover edition, in French or English, for $49.99 at the NGC Boutique.
Until September 11, the Gallery hours will be extended by one hour. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Thursdays until 8 p.m.
Admission to Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (1755-1842) is as follows: adults: $16; seniors and students (with valid ID): $14; youth (age 12 to 19): $7; families (two adults and three youths): $32. Admission is free for Gallery members and for children age 11 and under. Admission to Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun includes access to the National Collection.
Regular admission to the Gallery is: $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and students, $6 for youth age 12 to 19, $24 for families (two adults and three youths). Free admission at all times for Gallery members and children age 11 and under. Free admission Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m. (except for the Vigée Le Brun exhibition). For further details, call 613-998-8888 or 1-888-541-8888.
NGCmagazine.ca, the National Gallery of Canada’s online magazine, is a frequently updated source of information about the Canadian art world and events at the National Gallery of Canada. Correspondents from across the country provide engaging and exclusive content on historical and contemporary art in Canada. This online magazine also includes interviews with artists. Read the article “Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun’s Sumptuous Portraits” online now.
The National Gallery of Canada thanks PACART, transportation sponsor of the exhibition Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (1755-1842). The exhibition was also supported by the Department of Canadian Heritage through the Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Program.
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