Cover image for The sweetness of life : a biography of Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun
The sweetness of life : a biography of Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun
Goodden, Angelica.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
London : Andre Deutsch, 1997.
Physical Description:
384 pages, 24 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 23 cm
Format :


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ND1329.V53 G66 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

This jargon-free but complex narration follows the tale of the most internationally prominent (and peripatetic) woman portrait painter of her time, Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (1755-1842). Goodden (French, Oxford Univ.), author of works on French drama and literature, stands carefully aside as the lengthy story of Le Brun's life and career unfolds. Prodigious research culled from far-flung original documents records personality after personality who crossed Le Brun's path as portrait subject, friend, or rival. Family members, confidantes, heads of state, glamorous society luminaries, and geniuses of the arts are all trotted out for good reason, just as today there exists an ancien régime room for Le Brun's work at the Louvre. Highly recommended as more useful than Memoirs of Madame Vigée Le Brun (LJ 5/89), this should be read in conjunction with Mary Sheriff's The Exceptional Woman: Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun and the Cultural Politics of Art (Univ. of Chicago, 1996).‘Mary Hamel-Schwulst, Towson Univ., MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

This first biography of Vigee Le Brun (1755-1842) since Andre Blum's Madame Vigee-Lebrun, Peintre des Grandes Dames du XVIIIe Siecle (1920) describes a very successful painter of European royalty, regarded by critics as "beside the point, charming and seductive but shallow and politically incorrect." Now, interest in both her art and her enigmatic life as an artist has been renewed. Mary D. Sheriff's The Exceptional Women: Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun and the Cultural Politics of Art (CH, Nov'96) examines the political issues surrounding women as artists during pro-Revolutionary France. This new biography critiques her work as artist, providing a descriptive commentary on her travels to various cities, the subjects of her portrait paintings, and the complications and pain that arose in her role as wife and mother. The study is comprehensive and analyzes why she was a success and a "trendsetter" and, to some extent, the complexities of her personality; it is flavored by the fact that Goodden believes Le Brun wrote her memoirs to answer her critics (the author used passages from Souvenirs of Madame Vigee Le Brun, 1886, throughout to trace the artist's life and work). Comprehensive bibliography. For art history as well as women's history collections. General readers; undergraduates through professionals. N. M. Lambert University of South Carolina at Spartanburg