Self portrait with Two Pupils, Mademoiselle Marie Gabrielle Capei (1761-1818) and Mademoiselle Careaux de Rosemond (died 1788)
Oil on canvas
Signed and dated (left, on easle)Labille L.me Guiard / 1785
Adelaide Labille-Guiard was first apprenticed to a miniature painter and later, in 1769, studied the art of pastel with Maurice Quentin de La Tour. The rich palette and fine detail in the present picture, one of the earliest of her major works in oils, reflect her training. In 1783, when Labille-Guiard and Vigée Le Brun were admitted to the French Royal Academy, the number of women artists eligible for membership was limited to four, and this painting, which was exhibited to an admiring audience at the Salon of 1785, has been interpreted as a propaganda piece, arguing for the place of women in the Academy. the artist's fashionable dress asserts her femininity; the feminist mood is emphasized by the presence of her pupils at the statue of the Vestal Virgin in the background.
Labille-Guiard achieved a certain success at the court and, having painted a number of portraits of the aunts of Louis XVI, she came to be known as "Peinire des Mesdames." However, she sympathized with the Revolution and, unlike Vigée Le Brun, she remained in France throughout her life.
Gift of Julia A. Berwind, 1953