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About the Artwork

Madame Grand (Noël Catherine Vorlée, 1761-1835), 1783. Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun. Oil on canvas. Bequest of Edward S. Harkness, 1940.
This is one of the most captivating works by Vigée Le Brun, the most important woman artist of her time. Marie Antoinette’s patronage aided Vigée Le Brun’s admission to the Académie Royale in 1783 as one of only four women members permitted. She sent three history paintings (an exceptional genre for a woman artist) and at least ten portraits (including this one) to that year’s Salon, which served as her public debut. Madame Grand was born to a French colonial family near Pondicherry, India, and as she rose to fame for her beauty and eventual marriage to the minister and diplomat Talleyrand, admirers and critics alike exoticized her origins by giving her the epithet “l’Indienne.”

About the Artist

Born in Paris during the reign of Louis XV, Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun was the daughter of a professional pastel portraitist who died when she was 12 years old. Precocious and largely self-taught, in her teens Mademoiselle Vigée, chaperoned by her mother, was already working independently as a portraitist and contributing to the support of her family. It became necessary for her to join the artisanal guild in 1774, and she exhibited publicly for the first time when she was 19 at the Salon of the Académie de Saint-Luc.

In 1776 she married the principal art dealer and expert in 18th-century Paris, Jean Baptiste Pierre Le Brun, with whom she had a daughter, Julie. Theirs was largely a marriage of convenience, beneficial to both, although his profession at first kept her from being accepted into the prestigious Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture. At 23, Vigée Le Brun was summoned to Versailles to paint Marie Antoinette (1755-1793), who was a few months younger than she.

Women were barred from the school of the Académie because the students learned anatomy and the principles of drawing by studying and sketching from the nude male model. Women were afforded only the most limited access to the Salons of the Académie, where members brought their work before connoisseurs, critics, and potential patrons. Denied entry to this august organization because her husband was a dealer and association with the trade was prohibited, Vigée Le Brun was able to gain access only when Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI intervened. She flourished, showing close to 40 works in the four Salons to which she had access (1783, 1785, 1787, 1789). Balancing innovation with tradition, she created intimate as well as public portraits, remarkable not only for her technical gifts, but for her understanding of and sympathy with her sitters.

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About Our Prints

Quality
Met Custom Prints offers exclusive custom reproductions of artworks in The Met collection. Thanks to gallery-quality materials, we create prints as true to the original work as possible, using strict color management protocols and state-of-the-art printing technology.
Selection
This is the only place you’ll find reproductions approved by The Metropolitan Museum of Art. We are continually adding new artworks to our offering, so be sure to check back regularly as you build your own gallery. A variety of molding styles means our custom framed prints can match any type of decor.

Member Discounts

Met Members will receive their 15% discount for all Met Custom Prints purchases. If you are Member, when you check out enter your member ID and the last name associated with your membership; once your Membership has been validated, your discount will be applied. Member discounts cannot be combined with other offers.