Her slender hand and youthful eyes
Encapsulating vision’s quest
In nimble fingers paintbrush flies
Whilst skilful gaze absorbs the rest
Her palette poised, her mind beset
With the face of Marie Antoinette
The Earl of Bristol, swept askance
Did pander to his own caprice
Demanding that he have the chance
To own this glorious masterpiece
Lebrun, compelled to compensate
Agreed to paint a duplicate
Her canvas bore a likened pose
Each facet forged at his command
With all the skills her art bestows
She mimicked every sleight of hand
But replacing Marie Antoinette
With her daughter whom she called, 'Brunette'.
Vigee Le Brun (Marie Elisabeth Louise; 16 April 1755 - 30 March 1842) was a French painter, and is recognized as the most famous female painter of the 18th century. Her style is generally considered Rococo and shows interest in the subject of neoclassical painting.
In 1789 Vigee Le Brun fled France to save her head. The first stop was Italy where she was welcomed like a head of state. At Florence she was asked to paint her portrait for the celebrated collection of portraits of famous artists by their own hand at the Uffizi gallery.
Vigee Le Brun started the self portrait while in Florence but finished it in Rome.The self portrait in Florence is of the most exquisite heads she ever painted, sunny, smiling, happy, and youthful.
The painting on the easel in the picture is of Marie Antoinette done from memory.
The Earl of Bristol met Vigee in Naples, Italy. Captivated by her beauty, he commissioned her to paint his portrait. He further requested her to make a copy of her own portrait being completed for the Uffizi.
In this portrait the face on the canvas depicts her daughter Julie who traveled with her and who she called "Brunette. Both paintings are at Ickworth, Suffolk.