Portrait of Natalia Zakharovna Kolycheva, née Hitrovo
Elisabeth Louise Vigée-Lebrun ( French, 1755 - 1842 )
Born into an artistic family, Elisabeth Louise Vigée‑Lebrun took drawing lessons from her father and began working as a professional artist as a teenager. She became Queen Marie Antoinette’s official portrait painter, and in 1783 she was admitted into the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. Forced into exile at the onset of the French Revolution, Vigée‑Lebrun continued to be a sought after portraitist. While living in Russia, she painted this striking portrait of Natalia Zakharovna Kolycheva, a member of the nobility. Vigée‑Lebrun presented her sitter as a refined and educated woman: she reads a French play and wears fashionable clothing, gold jewelry, and a classicizing hair accessory. Vigée-Lebrun was both celebrated and criticized for idealizing her sitters through the supple brushwork, rich hues, and soft lighting so skillfully demonstrated here.
Kelsey Martin and Nicole Myers, DMA exhibition text Women Artists in Europe from the Monarchy to Modernism, 2018.