Marie Joséphine Charlotte du Val d'Ognes (1786–1868)

Marie Denise Villers French

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 634

A woman looks up from her drawing, perhaps better to study us. The simple interior may represent at studio in the Louvre. The broken windowpane framing the distant couple, an unsettling detail, demonstrates the artist’s technical skill. Villers was the sister of the painter Marie Victorine Lemoine and a pupil of Anne Louis Girodet-Trioson, Jacques Louis David’s student. Taking advantage of newly open submission procedures for women painters at the Salon, she exhibited this work publicly in 1801 under her name, but it was soon incorrectly ascribed to David—a misidentification perpetuated until the 1950s. Due in part to this history, the painting appeared on the cover of a 1971 issue of Artnews that featured a watershed call to reevaluate art history, Linda Nochlin’s "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?"

Marie Joséphine Charlotte du Val d'Ognes (1786–1868), Marie Denise Villers (French, Paris 1774–1821 Paris (?)), Oil on canvas

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