Oil painting on canvas, Self-portrait by Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (Paris 1755 – Paris 1842), signed, bottom left: L. E. Vigée Le Brun/ Naples 1791. A half-length portrait of the artist, turned to the left, gazing at the spectator, seated, in the act painting on a canvas supported on an easel. She holds a palette and brushes in her left hand and is painting with her right hand. She wears a black dress with white frilly cuffs, with red sash tied at the back, white frilly lace collar and white turban over tightly curly hair. She appears to be painting her daughter, Julie: the subject of several adoringly maternal portraits by and with her mother, but ultimately the cause of great grief to her. Greyish background. This is an autograph variant of the portrait in the Uffizi, painted in Rome in 1790, and presented by the artist to the Florence gallery. An outline of the head of Marie-Antoinette appears on the canvas.
Commissioned by Frederick Hervey, 4th Earl of Bristol and Bishop of Derry (1730-1803); how this, almost alone among his pictures, came to be at Ickworth in 1838 (it is neither in France & Banting’s 1819 inventory of the stored contents of the St James’s Square house - nor in the 1st Marquess’s 1837 inventory list of paintings at Ickworth) is not at the moment explicable; Part of the Bristol Collection. Loaned to the National Trust in 1956 under the auspices of the National Land Fund, later the National Heritage Memorial Fund, and then transferred to the National Trust in 1983.
Ickworth, The Bristol Collection (acquired through the National Land Fund and transferred to The National Trust in 1956)
Makers and roles
Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (Paris 1755 – Paris 1842), artist
The Treasure Houses of Britain, National Gallery of Art, Washington, USA, 1985 - 1986, no.507
Farrer 1908 Edmund Farrer, Portraits in Suffolk Houses (West), 1908, no. 129
Vigee-Lebrun, Marie-Louise-Elizabeth, Souvenirs, two vols., Paris, 1867, Vol.I, pp.161-162; Vol. II, p.366
Helm 1915 William Henry Helm, Vigee-Lebrun 1755-1842. Her Life, Works and a Catalogue of Pictures, 4 Vols, London, 1915, pp.114 and 206-207
Decker 1984 Douwes Decker, Portraits à l’Huile de Mme Elizabeth Louise Vigee-LeBrun, 1984, no.255