Elisabeth Louise Vigee Le Brun and female competition

Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun and Adélaïde Labille-Guiard were both portraitists and were both received into the Royal Academy of painting and sculpture in 1783.
10 November 2015
Autoportrait de l'artiste accompagnée par deux de ses élèves, Marie Gabrielle Capet (1761-1818) et Marie Marguerite Carreaux de Rosemond (m. 1788) © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / image of the MMA
When they exhibited their works at the Exhibitions, critics and the public compared them and this stimulated competition.

Over the years, the two rivals moved towards perfection. Vigée Le Brun was praised for her beautiful technique and chromatic innovations and the lively nature of her compositions (poses, costumes, accessories, décors). Some commentators remarked that Labille-Guiard’s paintings were less flattering, her style more vigorous and realistic, her likenesses well accomplished, her compositions more wisely laid-out and her colours more natural and harmonious.

In 1789, the artists went their separate ways. One emigrated and spread her idea of portraiture in Europe and Russia.

The other stayed in Paris and used her talent to serve the elites of the Revolution. Moreover, in the years leading up to the Revolution, both artists trained many other students in the art of painting and drawing. They helped promote painting among women and allowed other young women to make a career out of it.
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