"You shall be a painter, my child"

Élisabeth Louise Vigée was born into a family connected to the Parisian artistic community.
2 October 2015
Portrait de Jeanne Maissin, la mère de l’artiste, en pelisse blanche. © Collection particulière
Her father Louis, who she adored, was a renowned pastellist who had been admitted into the Academy of Saint-Luc. He died when Elisabeth Louise was only twelve, but he’d had the time to recognise her artistic talents and to teach her how to handle the tools of her art and above all the secrets of pastel painting, his own speciality. In a prophetic manner, Louis Vigée told his daughter: «You shall be a painter, my child, or nothing at all».

Quite naturally, the young artist used her family and friends as her first models. In this way, she showed them her affection and at the same time perfected her technique. Her mother Jeanne Maissin, her brother Étienne, and later his wife Suzanne Marie Françoise posed for her.

The famous art dealer Jean Baptiste Pierre Le Brun, whom she married in 1776, and some friends like Anne Rosalie Bocquet and Marguerite Émilie Chalgrin formed the artist’s close circle and provided support and admiration throughout her career.
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