The Exceptional Woman: Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun and the Cultural Politics of Art

Overview


Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun (1755-1842) was an enormously successful painter, a favorite portraitist of Marie-Antoinette, and one of the few women accepted into the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. In accounts of her role as an artist, she was simultaneously flattered as a charming woman and vilified as monstrously unfeminine.

In The Exceptional Woman, Mary D. Sheriff uses Vigée-Lebrun's career to explore the contradictory position of "woman-artist" in the moral, ...

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Overview


Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun (1755-1842) was an enormously successful painter, a favorite portraitist of Marie-Antoinette, and one of the few women accepted into the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. In accounts of her role as an artist, she was simultaneously flattered as a charming woman and vilified as monstrously unfeminine.

In The Exceptional Woman, Mary D. Sheriff uses Vigée-Lebrun's career to explore the contradictory position of "woman-artist" in the moral, philosophical, professional, and medical debates about women in eighteenth-century France. Paying particular attention to painted and textual self-portraits, Sheriff shows how Vigée-Lebrun's images and memoirs undermined the assumptions about "woman" and the strictures imposed on women.

Engaging ancien-régime philosophy, as well as modern feminism, psychoanalysis, literary theory, and art criticism, Sheriff's interpretations of Vigée-Lebrun's paintings challenge us to rethink the work and the world of this controversial woman artist.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Vigee-Lebrun (1755-1842) was a successful French painter, a favorite portraitist of Marie-Antoinette, and one of the few women accepted into the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. Sheriff (art, U. of North Carolina-Chapel Hill) examines her contradictory role as woman artist within the cultural norms, social attitudes, and medical theories of her time, which led her to be flattered and vilified at the same time. Illustrated in black and white. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226752822
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 10/24/1997
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 980,032
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents


List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction
PART ONE- The Anatomy Lessons of Elisabeth Vigèe-Lebrun
1. The Sense and Sex Organs
2. The Mother's Imagination and the Fathers' Tradition
PART TWO- Elisabeth Vigèe-Lebrun in 1783
3. The Law, the Academy, and the Exceptional Woman
4. The Im/modesty of Their Sex: The Woman's Gaze and the Female History Painter
5. The Portrait of the Queen
6. The Portrait of the Artist
PART THREE- Staging Allegory
7. Elisabeth, or Italy
8. Germaine, or Corinne
Epilogue
Notes
Selected Bibliography
Photographic Credits
Index
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