This youthful self-portrait depicts Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun at the age of about twenty-six, several years after she painted the first of her many portraits of Queen Marie-Antoinette. Here she presents herself not as an artist, with palette and brushes, but as a charming and attractive lady of society––indistinguishable from her own patrons, including the queen and aristocratic ladies, whom she sometimes painted in similar informal attire. Largely self-taught, Vigée Le Brun was recommended by the queen for membership in the Royal Academy in 1783 and soon acquired considerable fame and renown. When shown at the Salon her paintings were “the most highly praised . . . the topics of conversation at court and in Paris, in suppers, in literary circles."

Her radiant self-portrait highlights Vigée Le Brun’s healthy good looks and creamy complexion, a sparkling light catching her eyes and crystal earrings. Attentive to the latest fashions, she outfitted her sitters in comfortable Grecian gowns and scarves. Here her simple muslin gown and elegant scheme of white, black, and cherry, along with her loose curls of hair, convey an appealingly glamorous persona.


  • Title: Self-Portrait
  • Creator: Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun
  • Date Created: c. 1781
  • Physical Dimensions: 25 1/2 x 21 1/4 in. (64.8 x 54 cm)
  • Provenance: Gustave Muhlbacher, Paris; (his sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 13-15 May 1907, no. 57); purchased for 23,000 francs by (Galerie Wildenstein, Paris). Baron Sigismund von Springer [1873-1927] and Baroness Valentine Noémi von Springer, née Rothschild [1886-1969], Vienna; confiscated by German occupation forces, and exhibited at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, 1940-1947; restituted to Baroness Springer, Vienna, 1947; sold through her son-in-law, Kurt von Reininghaus, to (Newhouse Galleries, Inc., New York); purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Kay Kimbell, Fort Worth, 1949; bequeathed to Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 1965.
  • Rights: Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas
  • External Link: www.kimbellart.org
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Japanese: French
  • Credit: In recognition of his service to the Kimbell Art Museum and his role in developing area collectors, the Board of Trustees of the Kimbell Art Foundation has dedicated this work from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Kay Kimbell, founding benefactors of the Kimbell Art Museum, to the memory of Mr. Bertram Newhouse (1883–1982) of New York City.
  • Century: 18th century
  • Artist Dates: (1755–1842)

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