Madame Grand (Noël Catherine Vorlée, 1761–1835)

Artist: Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (French, Paris 1755–1842 Paris)

Date: 1783

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: Oval, 36 1/4 x 28 1/2 in. (92.1 x 72.4 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Bequest of Edward S. Harkness, 1940

Accession Number: 50.135.2


Vigée Le Brun, largely self-taught and the wife of the picture dealer Jean-Baptiste Pierre Le Brun, was the most important woman artist of her time. She was a favorite of Marie Antoinette, through whose good offices she was admitted in 1783 to the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture as one of only four women members. To the Salon of that year, her public debut, she sent three history paintings and at least ten portraits, of which this was one. The sitter, Madame Grand, was a minor celebrity, a beautiful blond born in India, ill-educated but musical and clever, who would eventually become the wife of the minister and diplomat Talleyrand.