Posts Tagged 'Elisabeth Louise Vigée-Lebrun'

A Soiree Fit for Versailles

Next week on Thursday, November 2 the DMA is hosting a soiree fit for Versailles at the second annual Rosenberg Fête celebrating French art from the 18th century. We’ll step back in time with period music, sketching in the galleries, a sumptuous menu of French classics, and a talk on one of the Rosenberg Collection’s most exquisite paintings.

Let’s take a brief dive into the collection we are celebrating. A significant portion of the DMA’s 18th century French art holdings comes from the private collection of Michael L. Rosenberg (1947-2003), an art enthusiast and philanthropist who amassed works by some of the most influential French artists of the 18th century. Upon Michael’s passing in 2003, his collection was transferred to the the Rosenberg Foundation, which approved a long-term loan to the DMA in his memory, making our Museum the home of this stunning collection since 2004.

While each object commands a closer look, I’ve always been captivated by the two pieces that bookend the collection—the first and last of Rosenberg’s acquisitions.

The first piece that Mr. Rosenberg acquired was The Bather by François Lemoyne. It is a full length portrait of a nude woman dipping her toe into a body of water, aided by an attendant who holds her discarded clothes. Like many paintings of this period, The Bather can be described as sensuous; the scene is cast in a soft light that plays off of the pearlescent tones of the subject’s body and hair and the artist lent as much effort to the beauty of the painting as to the storytelling. A testament to the effect of the painting, Lemoyne actually created a copy of it for himself, which now hangs at the Hermitage. While he was perhaps not as famous as his protégé François Boucher, Lemoyne influenced artists for years to come, making The Bather not only a beautiful start to Rosenberg’s collection but one with great historical significance. Learn more about this painting tomorrow with Colin B. Bailey, Director of the Morgan Library Museum, who will speak about Lemoyne’s Bather in the context of other Rococo bathing scenes.

François Lemoyne, The Bather, 1724, Oil on canvas, Lent by the Michael L. Rosenberg Foundation, 29.2004.7

Mr. Rosenberg’s last acquisition was Portrait of Natalia Zakharovna Kolycheva, née Hitrovo by Elisabeth Louis Vigee-Lebrun. Vigee-Lebrun was a portrait painter to Queen Marie Antoinette and one of the few women painters of her time who was successful in an art world dominated by men. During the French Revolution she went into exile, eventually settling in Russia where she painted this and other portraits of aristocrats. At this moment in history only four women artists had been admitted to the prestigious French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. With works by Vigee-Lebrun and two floral still lifes by Anne Vallayer-Caoster, also a painter to the Queen, the DMA had works by two out of four of these trailblazing women artists. In his lifetime Michael Rosenberg supported the acquisition of the Vallayer-Coster pendants, and today his legacy Foundation continues to support the museum’s expanding collection in this area, as exemplified by their generous support to acquire a portrait by Adélaïde Labille-Guiard earlier this year, so that now the DMA can boast having works by three of the four women Academicians of the 18th century.

Elisabeth Louise Vigée-Lebrun, Portrait of Natalia Zakharovna Kolycheva, née Hitrovo, 1799, Oil on Canvas, Lent by the Michael L. Rosenberg Foundation, 29.2004.13

Anne Vallayer-Coster, Bouquet of Flowers in a Terracotta Vase with Peaches and Grapes, 1776, Oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund and gift of Michael L. Rosenberg, 1998.51.FA

Anne Vallayer-Coster, Bouquet of Flowers in a Blue Porcelain Vase, 1776, Oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund and gift of Michael L. Rosenberg, 1998.52.FA

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, Portrait of a Conventional, 1795, Oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Michael L. Rosenberg Foundation. 2017.18

These are just a few of the treasures in the Rosenberg Galleries. Join us next week to see the Collection and immerse yourself in the lavish world of 18th-Century France.

Jessie Frazier is Manager of Adult Programming at the DMA

Six Years in Russia with Madame Vigée-Lebrun

Last week, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York opened an exhibition dedicated to Elisabeth Louise Vigée-Lebrun, the 18th-century painter and favorite portraitist of Queen Marie-Antoinette. This exhibition, Vigée Le Brun: Woman Artist in Revolutionary France , brings together eighty paintings and pastels produced over the course of the artist’s career. It is the first retrospective and only the second exhibition dedicated to this important artist. But you don’t have to travel all the way to the Big Apple to see one of her paintings. The DMA is fortunate to have a portrait by Vigée-Lebrun hanging in our European Galleries on Level 2 as part of the Michael L. Rosenberg Collection.

Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, Portrait of Madame Nakharovna, née Hitrova, 1799, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Michael L. Rosenberg Collection, 29.2004.13

Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, Portrait of Madame Nakharovna, née Hitrova, 1799, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Michael L. Rosenberg Collection, 29.2004.13

Portrait of Madame Nakharovna, née Hitrova, painted in 1799, depicts a member of the Russian nobility. She is portrayed as a wealthy and educated woman, reading the play Iphigenia by Racine in French and wearing fashionable clothing and jewelry. The artist accentuates the translucent fabric of her scarf and the gold strands of Madame Nakharovna’s necklace as they catch the light. She creates a sense of spontaneity and interaction with the sitter, who seems to respond to our presence.

Because of her close association with Marie-Antoinette and the French monarchy, Vigée-Lebrun left France during the Revolution and spent six years in Russia, living in exile in St. Petersburg and Moscow. She was very successful in Russia as a portrait painter to the imperial family and the Russian nobility. She found many clients, such as Madame Nakharovna, eager to be painted by the favorite portraitist of the late queen of France.

Beyond success as an artist, Vigée-Lebrun seemed to have found, in the distant lands of Russia, the kind of life she had enjoyed in Paris. In her memoirs she wrote, “Every evening I went out. There were innumerable balls, concerts, and theatrical performances, and I thoroughly enjoyed these gatherings, where I found all the urbanity, all the grace of French company. It seemed as though good taste had made a jump with both feet from Paris to St. Petersburg.”

But the allure of Russian society didn’t stop her from lamenting the frigid winters: “I am perhaps the only person, who not suspecting how cold it was, ever took it into my head to pay a visit when the thermometer was at eighteen. . . . Everyone wears velvet, fur-lined boots in his carriage, and cloaks lined heavily with fur.”

So bundle up and come to the DMA to see Portrait of Madame Nakharovna by Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun.

Franny Brock is the Dedo and Barron Kidd McDermott Graduate Intern for European Art at the DMA.


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