Women Artists

In 18th century many French women artists reached impressive artistic achievements. Two of the Academie’s four female members — Adelaide Labille-Guiard (1749–1803) and Elisabeth-Louise Vigee-Lebrun regularly exhibited at the Biennial Salon, where their pictures received enormous attention. The two artists crossed paths in 1783, when both painters were admitted to the French Academie Royale.

Royal women were the most important patrons for the both artists. Vigee Lebrun was one of Marie-Antoinette’s favorite portraitists and Labille-Guiard was named First Painter to” Mesdames”, the aunts of Louis XVI in 1787. “The two artists took opposite sides during the French Revolution, and Labille-Guiard painted portraits of some of the uprising’s leaders, including one of the few known portraits of Maximilien Robespierre (1758–1794), the most prominent figure calling for the death of King Loius XVI. “(Kleiner, 2013) while after the French Revolution, Vigee-Lebrun was no longer welcome at the French Academie Royale. Labille-Guiard’s Self-Portrait with Two Pupils, 1785 and Vigee-Lebrun’s Self-Portrait underlines he two women’s different self-images. In Self-Portrait the younger painter presented herself at work, while in Self-Portrait with Two Pupils, Labille-Guiard presented herself as a teacher.

The Self-Portrait with Two Pupils was interpreted as a propaganda piece, arguing for the place of the women in the academy. The format structure seen in Self-Portrait with Two Pupils is a classical pyramidal composition, echoed by the easel.


Kleiner, F. (2015). The Renaissance in Quattrocento Italy. In Gardner’s Art Through The Ages: A Global History. (Fifteenth ed., Vol. 2). Boston, Massachusetts, Cengage Learning