Portrait of Princess Belozersky

Élisabeth Louise Vigée-LeBrun1798/1798

National Museum of Women in the Arts

National Museum of Women in the Arts
Washington, D.C., United States

Élisabeth Louise Vigée-LeBrun was widely known for flattering her sitters, a quality visible in this portrait of Princess Belozersky.

Princess Anne Grigorieva Belosselsky Belozersky was the younger of two daughters of Gregory Vassilievitch Kozitsky, secretary of state to Catherine II. At the time this portrait was executed, during Vigée-LeBrun’s St. Petersburg sojourn, the princess was 26 years old.

Vigée-LeBrun portrays the Russian princess as beautiful and approachable. She wears a faint smile on her moist lips, her curly hair is attractively tousled, and her two-tone shawl and matching fringed headwrap add warmth to her coloring and the portrait as a whole.

The artist has downplayed the luxury of her sitter’s life. The princess wears a simple, long-sleeved, high-waisted dress of the color and type favored by Vigée-LeBrun for both her own wardrobe and the costumes in which she dressed her female subjects. The princess wears little jewelry, only a pair of gold and amber earrings and a necklace that is faintly visible beneath the diaphanous white scarf covering her throat.


  • Title: Portrait of Princess Belozersky
  • Creator: Élisabeth Louise Vigée-LeBrun
  • Creator Lifespan: 1755/1842
  • Creator Gender: Female
  • Creator Death Place: Paris, France
  • Creator Birth Place: Paris, France
  • Date: 1798/1798
  • selected exhibition history: “Elisabeth Louise Vigée-LeBrun: 1755-1842,” Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, 1982
  • artist profile: Renowned French artist Élisabeth Louise Vigée-LeBrun was Marie Antoinette's favorite painter for a decade. She also enjoyed the patronage of European aristocrats, actors, and writers and was elected to art academies in 10 cities. At the age of 15, Vigée-LeBrun was earning enough money from her portrait painting to support herself, her widowed mother, and her younger brother. Trained by her father, the portraitist Louis Vigée, she joined Paris’s Academy of Saint Luke at 19. Two years later, she married Jean-Baptiste-Pierre LeBrun, a painter and art dealer who helped her gain valuable access to the art world. Vigée-LeBrun’s talent helped her please even the most demanding sitters. She soon came to the attention of the French queen, who in 1783 appointed her a member of Paris’s powerful Royal Academy. As one of only four female academicians, Vigée-LeBrun enjoyed a high artistic, social, and political profile. However, with the onset of the French Revolution, her connections to the royal court forced her to flee the country with her nine-year-old daughter. During the next 12 years the artist was commissioned to create portraits of the most celebrated residents of Rome, Vienna, St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Berlin. After brief, highly successful stays in England and Switzerland, Vigée-LeBrun returned to France for good in 1809. She divided the last 33 years of her life between her Paris residence, where she held glittering salons, and her country house at Louveciennes. Scholars estimate that Vigée-LeBrun produced more than 600 paintings. Her memoirs, originally published in 1835–37, have been translated and reprinted numerous times.
  • Style: Neoclassicism
  • Physical Dimensions: w26.25 x h31 in (Without frame)
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Gift of Rita M. Cushman in memory of George A. Rentschler; Photography by Lee Stalsworth
  • External Link: National Museum of Women in the Arts
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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