| Mercè Alabern of Barcelona, Spain is in the
process of writing a book on the life of Mme. du Barry and has provided a
short biography of Mme. du Barry's
life. The biography is also provided in En
Español andItalian .
According to her memoirs Vigée Le Brun painted three portraits of her: 1781 Countess du Barry (w/straw hat), 1782 Mme.du Barry (full length w/wreath in hand), 1789 Mme.du Barry. The fourth painting was completed in 1820. The fifth painting shown here is a copy (of the fourth painting) by Eugénie Tripier Lefranc, Vigee Le Brun's niece. It was completed at the same time Vigée Le Brun completed the original in 1820.
|Madame Du Barry - 1781
Oil on panel 27.25 x 20.25 in (69.2 x 51.4 cm)
This is believed to be a copy by Vigee Le Brun of the painting below. The painting was gifted to the Philadelphia Art Museum in 1984 by the previous owner Mrs Fleming. View a larger version of this painting image.
This painting can also be found on Art Page 138
|Madame Du Barry - 1781
oil on canvas
This is believed to be the first painting Vigée Le Brun painted of Mme du Barry. According to her memoirs Vigée Le Brun painted three portraits of her: 1781 Countess du Barry (w/straw hat), 1782 Mme du Barry (full length w/wreath in hand), 1789 Mme du Barry.
This image can also be found on Art Page 43
|Madame Du Barry - 1787
Oil on panel
This is believed to be a 1787 copy by Vigee Le Brun of the countess du Barry painted in 1781. View the original on Art Page 43 and another copy at Art Page 138
| Mme du Barry-1787
oil on canvas
This is the second painting Vigée Le Brun painted of Mme du Barry.
This image can also be found on Art Page 68
| Mme du Barry-1789-1820
oil on canvas
Mme du Barry is 46 years old in this portrait. "The third portrait I made of Mme Du barry [was begun] towards the middle of September 1789....I had painted the head and traced the outline of the body and arm....My fear reached a peak and my only thought was to leave France, so I had to abandon the painting half finished. I do not know by what stroke of good fortune M.le Comte Louis de Narbonne found himself in possession of it during my absence; on my return to France, he gave it to me and I have only just completed it" Vigee Le Brun. The painting was finished around 1820.
This image can also be found on Art Page 38
| Mme du Barry - 1820
oil on canvas, Musée Lambinet, Versailles
Copy of original by Eugénie Tripier Lefranc, Vigee Le Brun's niece. The painting was made at the same time Vigée Lebrun made the original so this copy by Tripier Lefranc was finished arround 1820. Eugénie Tripier Lefranc was born in Paris in 1803 or 1805 and died in Paris in 1872.
|Mme Dubarry - 1782
This is a copy of Vigee-Lebrun's Mme Dubarry portrait by pupil Mm. Lemoine. It is in aprivate collection at Louveciennes. Notice that the brush strokes are more loosely rendered and the head is a different shape.
by Mercè Alabern
Jeanne Becu (the future Mme. du Barry) was born on 19 August 1743 in Vaucoleurs, France. This village became famous in the 15th Century due to the heroic feats of Joanna of Arc. Her mother was a cook named Anne Becu and her father was unknown. Her father was probably a friar from the convent of Picpus named Jeane Baptiste Gormand of Vaubernier. Thanks to the help of her mother's lover, she was educated in the convent of Saint-Aure of Paris. At age 15, she completed her education. She worked in several positions and began her gallant life. In 1763 she met Jeane du Barry and she became his mistress. He was known as "Le Roué" (the vile). Thanks to police reports of the time we know that he prostituted his lovers, Mme du barry included. Only one modern word describes what he really was - a "pimp". In 1768 she met Louis XV. In order to become his mistress she had to be married so she married Guillaume du Barry (brother of Jeane).In this way, Jeanne Becu became Countess du Barry and King's acknowledged mistress. Her political influence was not as important as Mme. Pompadour. She protected intellectuals and artists such as Drouais (his portraits of her are well known), Pajou,Van Loo, Falconet, Lemoyne, and others.Voltaire was her good friend. In 1769 Louis XV presented her with the Chateau at Louveciennes which she put under restoration.She began to build the neo-classical pavillon du Barry by Ledoux. Fragonard painted for Louveciennes the rococo panels "The Progress of Love" (today in the Frick Collection.New York) but she prefered the neo-classical styleby Joseph Marie Vien. In 1774 Louis XV died and Jeanne du Barry was confined in the convent of Pont-Aux-Dames for two years. When she was free, she tried to put in order her new life. First at her chateau of Saint-Vrain and after in Louveciennes, she again had a "court" of friends and admirers.The new successor of Louis XV was the Duke of Brissac. He became her lover.The three portraits of by Vigee Le Brun (at this website) were made in this period.In 1789 The French Revolution began and in 1791 the most of her diamonds were stolen. She had to travel to London to recover them. There, she was portrayed by Richard Cosway in an excellent miniature (today in the Pierpont Morgan Collection. New York). In 1792 her lover Brissac was killed. Rohan Chabot became her new lover. During her trips to London, she maintained contacts with the French emigres.The French Government considered her relations as "dangerous". In 1793 she was accused of working against the new government. She was arrested, judged and condemned to death. Jeanne du Barry was guillotined on 8 December 1793. She was 50 years old.
Vigée Le Brun's Home Page | Special Galleries