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After Elisabeth Louise Vigée le Brun
After Elisabeth Louise Vigée le Brun

Selfportrait of the artist with her daughter

Details
After Elisabeth Louise Vigée le Brun
Selfportrait of the artist with her daughter
pastel on board
105 x 85cm.
Sale Room Notice
The technique is pastel on paper laid down on canvas, rather than pastel on board.

Lot Essay

After the artist's picture of the same format dated 1786, now in the Louvre, Paris, inv. no. 3069 (I. Compin, A. Roquebert, Catalogue sommaire illustré des peintures du Musée du Louvre et du Musée d'Orsay, IV, Paris, 1986, p. 272, illustrated).

As described by J. Baillio, Elisabeth Louise Vigée le Brun (1755-1842), exhibition catalogue, Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, 1982 (fig. 2), p. 34, the picture shows the artist with her daughter Jeanne-Lucie-Louise (1780-1819), and was described at the Paris Salon of 1787 to be an example of 'how beauty and talent are enhanced when they are allied to the tenderest and most delightful of affections... Thus art can serve mankind better than the demonstrations of a moralist' (L'Ami des artistes au Salon, Paris, 1787).

As early as 1500, Leonardo da Vinci formulated the principle that only by copying the works of earlier masters could an artist develop his own individual manner, thus establishing a tradition that lasted until the first half of this Century. Well-known artists like Rubens and Anthony van Dyck are known to have copied famous masterworks by earlier artists such as Hans Holbein, Raphael and Titian, while Rembrandt copied Indian miniatures.
Copies like the present lot, which would seem to date from the nineteenth Century, were, contrary to what is often assumed, not made to deceive or to pass as the original. Even the most distinguished collectors commissioned copies if a beloved original was not obtainable, and they would adorn their rooms with high quality copies like the present pastel. Also among 18th and 19th Century travellers on their Grand Tour throughout the Continent, copies were in great demand as a souvenir of the masterpieces seen in private and public collections. This became an increasingly commercial enterprise as travelling became easier in the 19th Century and more and more collections became accessible to the public. Especially young artists, starting their careers, could earn their living by producing good copies, and from the 18th Century onwards artists were allowed to enter public Collections with their worktools for this purpose.
Recent publications on the subject include E. Haverkamp Begemann, Creative Copies, Interpretative Drawings from Michelangelo to Picasso, exhibition catalogue, The Drawing Center, New York, 1988, and Copier Créer: De Turner à Picasso: 300 oeuvres inspirés par les maîtres du Louvre, exhibition catalogue, Louvre, Paris, 1993.
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