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The Rise & Fall of Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun – Europe’s First Modern Woman – Part 1: The Portrait of the Queen | Free Documentary History

Watch ‘The Rise & Fall of Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun – Part 2’ here:

Louise Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun is mainly known for her portraits of Marie-Antoinette and major European personalities of the 18th and 19th centuries. But she is first and foremost a woman who led an extraordinary life, both personally and professionally.

Born in 1755, she died in 1847 (at age 87), living through several periods that marked history. Her work attests to these major upheavlas; the reigns of Louis XV and Louis XVI, the French Revolution, the Empuire, the Restoration and the July Monarchy.

She was an extremly modern woman who lived in Italy, Russia, Austria and England – a woman who was celebrated in courts all over Europe.
The freedom of Louise Elisabeth, though she was a woman of the 18th century, echoes that of contemporary women. She was an artist, but also a shrewd business woman, a wheeler and dealer before her time, a divorced mother, financially and legally independent, and adventurer by necessity.
While a life like this was possible for an 18th-century woman, the constraints of the following century would relegate them to the less glorious role of wives and mothers and the would have to wait another century to win back their autonomy.

Vigée Le Brun herself said about the pre-revolutionary period: “Women rulde supreme then, but the Revolution dethroned them:”


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