Marie Victoire Lemoine
Atelier of a Painter, probably Madame Vigée Le Brun (1755-1842), and Her Pupil
Oil on Canvas
This picture has been identified with one exhibited by Marie Victoire Lemoine in the Salon of 1796. It is a tribute by one female painter to another--the celebrated portraitist, Vigée Le Brun, who had been closely associated with Marie Antoinette before the Revolution and at its outbreak in 1789 left France (in 1796 she was living in St. Petersburg). Vigée Le Brun is shown, palette and mahlstick in hand, pausing from work on an Antique-inspired subject--a votary of Athena, goddess of wisdom and patron of the arts--while a pupil (sometimes identified with Lemoine herself) copies from it. Lemoine was not a pupil of Vigée, and the picture has been interpeted as the eulogy of Vigée Le Brun as a sort of high priestess of painting and a protagonist of female artists.
Gift of Mrs. Thomeycroft Ryle, 1957