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A delayed tribute to France’s most famous woman artist – BBC News

The court painter to Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, Elisabeth Louise Vigee Le Brun, was the first internationally celebrated woman artist. But only now, more than 170 years after her death, has France got round to dedicating an exhibition to her.

Probably the most famous of Elisabeth Louise Vigee le Brun’s paintings is the monumental portrait of Queen Marie-Antoinette and her three children, normally on display at the royal palace in Versailles.

The queen looks serious and demure – nothing like the gadabout many took her to be. Her elder boy – the dauphin – points to an empty crib, where there should have been a baby girl had she not died.

Painted in 1787, two years before the Revolution, Marie-Antoinette and her children was a clear attempt to rehabilitate the image of the unpopular Queen, whose image had just been dragged deeper into the mud by the so-called diamond necklace affair (in which a woman impersonating her had defrauded the crown jewellers).

This was the queen as dynastic mother, faithfully offering her children to the nation.

Source: A delayed tribute to France’s most famous woman artist – BBC News

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