Three Women - Elisabeth (afternoon)
Louise Vigée Le Brun: How not to lose your Head
Despite becoming painter to Marie-Antoinette, Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun used her innate wit, and enormous talent, not only to survive the horrors of the French Revolution, but also to flourish. She had married an artist and art dealer to get ahead, but when she was excluded from admission to the Académie Royale because of his career – a conflict of interests, they said – her royal connections meant that the Academicians just could not say ‘no’ – although they used her admission as an excuse to limit the number of women they would allow in the future. When the going got tough, she didn’t worry about leaving Monsieur Le Brun behind and fled, with her daughter, to Italy, and the court of King Ferdinand IV and Queen Maria Carolina – the sister of Marie-Antoinette. We will follow her path through society, and her journey across the continent – as far as Austria and Russia – all the while bearing in mind her single-minded determination and self-confidence, which is evident from her memoirs, Souvenirs de ma vie, said to be more a work of fiction than her many glorious portraits.