Welcome to the Art of

This project is a major group effort with contributors from all over the globe (Credits). The Team : Kevin Kelly (USA), Charles Stein (USA), Francis and Martha Kelly (UK), Olivier Blanc (France), Lucia Cardellini (Italy), Mercè and Jordi Alabern (Spain), Claudia Solacini(Italy), Angela Demutskiy (USA), Jana Talkenberg (Germany), Julia Slupska (Poland), Tamás Strakovits (Hungary), and Elena Sharnova (Russia). These are the main contributors but many additional people have provided images and information over the past two decades.

I discovered the art of Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, the French portrait artist, in 1990 at the Kimbell Art Museum in Ft. Worth, TX. While roaming the galleries I came face to face with this captivating self portrait of the 26 year old Vigée Le Brun painted in 1781. An exceptional self portrait of this artist who lived 200 years ago. Perhaps her best work.

The purpose of the site is to spread some of the magic of Vigée Le Brun's art around. The collection started in October 1996 with 20 images. After twenty years this site now includes 612 of her paintings and their many unique stories. The details of world events of the times presented through the stories of the sitters have made this portrait collection a unique history resource.

Sources of information about the work of Vigée Le Brun are limited but her paintings appear in over 100 museums in 20 countries. Her autobiography is an excellent read and it covers events, people and the lifestyles of Europe and Russia in the late 18th century and the early 19th century. Vigée Le Brun knew and painted the portraits of many prominent figures in Europe and Russia from approximately 1770 to 1835.

As a Royalist, Vigée Le Brun fled France at the outset of the revolution. She lived an adventure in exile for 12 years traveling across Europe while increasing her fame and fortune. During her travels she became a member of the Academies of Florence, Rome, Bologna, St Petersburg and Berlin. Vigée Le Brun was one of the most in demand portrait artists of her time. She completed over 900 paintings including 700 portraits. This included many self portraits, 30 portraits of her friend Marie Antoinette and 67 portraits while living in Russia for six years. Vigée Le Brun was an intelligent, talented, fun loving and exceptional woman who enjoyed life and the people she painted and knew.

This site celebrates the story telling power of the portrait. Vigée Le Brun went to great lengths to make each portrait fit the subject and tell a little of the sitters story. Each painting can be matched to periods in her travels during and after the French Revolution and to stories that appear in her autobiography about the friendships of the people she painted.

The site includes a complete copy of Vigée Le Brun's Memoirs. It's a unique historical reference and travelogue of Europe and Russia at the end of the 18th century. You can now download a PDF file version or a Kindle ereader file version of "Memoirs". If you are planning a visit to Russia you should read the seven chapters of her book dedicated to her seven years of adventures in Catherine the Great's kingdom.

Charles Stein maintains an extensive annotated vesion of Vigée Le Brun's painting list. The site includes biographies and articles on the work of Vigée Le Brun and seven complete books on the artist. We have included an updated and consolidated museum guide as well as the artist's updated chronological list of paintings with active links to paintings. Lucia Cardellini's Phd thesis on the art of Vigée Le Brun is now included at this website.

The best way to start exploring Vigée Le Brun's art is to view the thumbnail Gallery of Vigée Le Brun's paintings or just start on Page 1 and follow the arrows and links.

Thanks to the many other people(Credits) who have provided painting images, museum information and their time.

Enjoy the art of Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun.

Kevin J. Kelly
May 2017

Index to Art Pages | Vigée Le Brun's Home Page | Vigée Le Brun's Gallery