[Marie Antoinette (1755–1793)] [Vigée Le Brun, Louise-Élisabeth. (1755-1842)] "Marie-Antoinette de Lorraine, d'Autriche, Reine de France,” ca. 1779/1828
[Marie Antoinette (1755–1793)] [Vigée Le Brun, Louise-Élisabeth. (1755-1842)]
"Marie-Antoinette de Lorraine, d'Autriche, Reine de France,” ca. 1779/1828.
Steel Engraving with hand-coloring
Large formal hand-colored steel engraving of the Queen of France, after the painting by Elisabeth Louise Vigée-Le Brun. Full figure standing slightly to the left, head to the right. In full, floor length gown, wig and a small feathered hat, she holds a rose in her left hand, and her right hand rests on her gown at her side. A shaft of light seems to make her face, hand and side of her dress glow. In the background are Roman columns and a wooded landscape with a drawn drapery to the left and small draped table with bouquet of flowers and a crown. The image surrounded by a printed rectangle with a multi lined border, resembling a frame with the title appearing in the lower border and in the lower right corner beneath the title, the small text "Morte à l'âge de 37 ans" [Died at age 37]. With the printed text beneath print recording the artist, designer and engraver (from left): "Peint par Rossline le Suédois / à Paris che Dupont ainé, rue de Seine 21 / Dessiné par Monenteuil / Imprimé par Chardon ainé / Gravé par B. y. Roger." Printed by Dupont, Paris, and listed in La Bibliographie de La France (1811-1881), which signified a print’s authorization for distribution in France, and was registered on May 17, 1828, as item number 382. Not examined out of frame. Some toning, foxing to margins; overall in apparent fine condition. Sight 20.5 x 26.75 inches (52 x 68 cm.); Matted and framed to an overall size of 28.25 x 35 inches (72 x 88.5 cm.).
Although the print lists a painting by "Roslin the Swede" as the source, the work is based on a painting by Elisabeth Vigée-Le Brun, a prominent French artist who was a friend and confidant of Marie Antoinette, and painted about 30 portraits of her between 1778 and 1788. One of these, dated 1779 and now in the collection of the national museum at Versailles, reverses the image horizontally but is otherwise identical in most respects. For the print, the image was redrawn with the background embellished and made grander than the original -- the bouquet is larger, the drape has been decorated with fringe and tassels, and the scene has been moved from an interior to a fanciful architectural setting that seems to be indoors and outdoors at the same time. The listing of this work in the official database of French museums, the Base Joconde, states that the work was formerly attributed to Alexander Roslin, and appeared in a reference book with that attribution as late as 1880.
Elisabeth Louise Vigée-Le Brun was a French painter, best known for her portraits of royalty and the aristocracy in France and elsewhere in Europe from during the last quarter of the 18th and first third of the 19th centuries. Closely associated with the French royalty before the revolution, she achieved membership in the French Academy in 1783, despite the barriers to entry for women, in part due to the influence of her friend and patron Marie Antoinette. After the French Revolution in 1789, she fled abroad and worked in Italy, Austria, and Russia, where her patrons included the family of Catherine the Great. She was able to return to France during the reign of Napoleon I, but continued to travel and receive portrait commissions in England and Switzerland. She was also honored with membership in several European art academies. She published her memoirs in 1835 and 1837. Vigée-Le Brun's works are in the major museums of the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Louvre, Versailles, the Wallace Collection in London and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.