Reading Material: The Memoirs of Madame Vigee Le Brun | Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century: Reading Material: The Memoirs of Madame Vigee Le Brun

February 10, 2009

Reading Material: The Memoirs of Madame Vigee Le Brun

Life can be quite crazy as an artist, which is why Lady Artist Vigee Le Brun has such great tales to tell! The Memoirs Of Madame Vigee Lebrun is a must have for your bookshelf, a great bedtime read. She jumps right into things, through letters to a friend.

I find that through her writing she is rather easy to connect to, the memoirs begin with her childhood. This is only a brief way of introduction, it explains how she became so fascinated with art, and it moves right along through her excellent opportunities in the art world. Before you know it you are making trips to the court of Versailles!

Princess Lamballe by Vigee Le Brun
She had many encounters with our favorite nobles, and amusing stories to tell! She had to deal with a pain in the butt husband, and mingle with fellow artists. She became great friends with Marie Antoinette and had the low down on her circle. There is an interesting chapter on Catherine II (Vigee did some travel!) Did I mention she LOVED Amsterdam? When she discusses Holland I am itching to book plane tickets! Here is an excerpt from her memoirs:

"About this time I also painted the Princess de Lamballe. Without being actually pretty, she appeared so at a little distance; she had small features, complexion of dazzling freshness, superb blond locks and was generally elegant in person. The unhappy end of this unfortunate Princess is sufficiently well known and so is the devotion to which she fell a victim. For in 1793, when she was at Turin entirely out of harm's way, she returned to France upon learning that the Queen was in danger..."
Vigée-Lebrun, Louise-Elisabeth. 1989. The memoirs of Elisabeth Vigée-Le Brun. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 9780253361233


  1. I'm so glad you posted this!
    This wonderful book will definitely be on my bookshelf soon! :)

  2. I love reading about lives of the artists, especially those of the 18th century. Thanks for this post;-)

  3. Oh I love reading about artists too! I will have to post more of my fav titles!

    Let me know what you think of the book!

  4. We can also read it online:

    I just find that reading online is so tiring...and uncomfortable

  5. I totally agree! Reading 'online' books makes my eyes feel horrible! and I am never comfy doing it (not the best computer chair?) Laptop in the bed? it over heats! no no its all wrong!

    I guess I am an old fashioned girl. I like to tote a book around or have it in bed to read. I don't mind the smell of old books either!!

  6. I know exactly what you mean- and- I love the smell of old books!

  7. I love "primary sources" (for lack of a better term)! Thanks for directing me to this book. I've started a book wishlist in order to keep track of your and Heather's recommendations!

    Speaking of reading online, what do you think of Kindles? In a way they sound really convenient. In another way it sounds like reading from a computer screen. I see many plus sides (like the built-in dictionary and the notes function) but also many downsides. What do you think?

  8. I've read tantalizing quotes of Madame Vigee Le Brun in which she claims to have encouraged her sitters to leave their hair unpowdered and to adopt more natural styles of dress. But I didn't know that Madame Vigee Le Brun wrote her memoirs. Thanks for posting this. I'll definitely have to get the book.