Marie Victoire Lemoine (French, 17541820)
Oil on canvas; 45 7/8 x 35 in. (116.5 x 88.9 cm)
Gift of Mrs. Thorneycroft Ryle, 1957 (57.103)
The painting, identified with one exhibited by Marie Victoire Lemoine in the Salon of 1796, has been interpreted as a eulogy of Vigée Le Brun as a protagonist of female artists and as a tribute by one woman artist to another. Vigée Le Brun had been closely associated with Marie Antoinette before the Revolution and at its outbreak in 1789 left France (in 1796 she was living in St. Petersburg). Here the artist is shown palette and mahlstick in hand, beside an unfinished work, a votary of Athena, goddess of wisdom and patron of the arts. A pupil (sometimes identified with Lemoine herself) copies from it.