One of the foremost portrait painters in Europe during her lifetime, Élisabeth Louise Vigée-LeBrun enjoyed international patronage by European royals and aristocrats. Favored by Marie Antoinette, Vigée-Lebrun was admitted to the Royal Academy in Paris in 1783, becoming one of only four women academicians at the time.
Despite fleeing France during the French Revolution, Vigée-Lebrun was well received amongst the nobility across the continent and was elected to art academies in 10 cities. She was a prolific painter, producing over 600 works in her lifetime of almost 90 years, including this work, “Portrait of a Young Boy,” completed when Vigée-Lebrun was 62.
Portraying a young boy holding a gun, Vigée-Lebrun has insightfully captured the child’s precocious nature. With his arms folded protectively around the weapon, the young boy perhaps envisions himself a soldier.