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Marie-Victoire Lemoine (Paris 1754-1820)
Marie-Victoire Lemoine (Paris 1754-1820)
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Marie-Victoire Lemoine (Paris 1754-1820)

Portrait of the artist, three-quarter-length, holding a palette and brushes

Details
Marie-Victoire Lemoine (Paris 1754-1820)
Portrait of the artist, three-quarter-length, holding a palette and brushes
oil on canvas
26 5/8 x 19 ¼ in. (67.6 x 49.5 cm.), with painted additions of 1/4 in. on all sides
Provenance
Private collection, Paris.
with Wildenstein, Paris, where acquired by the present owner in 1978.
Literature
A. Sutherland Harris and L. Nochlin, Women Artists: 1550-1950, exhibition catalogue, Los Angeles, 1976, p. 181, note 1.
J. Baillio, 'Vie et oeuvre de Marie Victoire Lemoine (1754-1820)', Gazette des beaux-arts, CXXVII, 1996, p. 151, no. 19, fig. 32.
Exhibited
Richmond, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Portrait Panorama, 10 September-12 October 1947, no. 10 under 'The Lyrical Portrait'.
Tulsa, Philbrook Art Center, 1949, on loan.
São Paulo, Museu de Arte de São Paulo, O Retrato na Franca: do renascimento ao neoclassicismo, January 1952, no. 25.
Winston-Salem, Salem Fine Arts Center and Raleigh, North Carolina Museum of Art, Women: A Historical Survey of Works by Women Artists, 27 February-20 April 1972, no. 11.
New York, Wildenstein, French Neoclassicism: Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture from the Gallery's Collection, 16 April-15 May 1976, no. 11.
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Lot Essay

In this self-portrait, Marie-Victoire Lemoine warmly engages the viewer with a convivial smile and holding the palette and brushes that identify her profession. It is just one of two known self-portraits by the artist, together with the c. 1780/90 portrait in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Orléans, in which she appears in more formal garments and in the guise of the personification of Painting. Lemoine’s celebrated The Interior of an Atelier of a Woman Painter (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) has in the past been identified as a self-portrait as a young student, receiving instruction from Madame Vigée-Lebrun (see A. Sutherland Harris and L. Nochlin, op. cit., p. 188, fig. 57), but this reading has been rejected by Katharine Baetjer, on the grounds that Lemoine and Vigée were the same age and there is no evidence that the former ever studied with the latter.

Marie-Victoire the eldest of four daughters born to Charles Lemoine and his wife Marie-Anne Rouselle. She is believed to have studied under the history painter and portraitist François-Guillaume Ménageot (1744-1816), who rented an apartment in the hôtel de Lubert in the rue de Clery, a building that belonged to the art dealer Jean-Baptiste-Pierre Le Brun and his wife Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun (1755-1842), with whose work Lemoine was surely familiar. Lemoine never achieved the commercial success of Vigée Le Brun, but her reputation grew steadily during the late 1770's and 1780's and she received important portrait commissions from members of the royal family and senior figures of the court. In fact, of the just over thirty works by Lemoine that are known today, most are half- or three-quarter-length portraits of this type.

Lemoine probably traveled to Italy in 1793-4, like Vigée Le Brun, who had fled in 1792, to escape the Reign of Terror in France. Although there is no documentary proof of the journey, Joseph Baillio has suggested that such a trip is evidenced by the painting of A Lady from Frascati with a Guitar player in a Landscape, location unknown (see J. Baillio, op. cit., pp. 132-4). In 1796 Lemoine exhibited for the first time at the Salon du Louvre, and she continued to exhibit pictures there until 1814, the year of the first Bourbon restoration. Regrettably, none of the portraits, miniatures and genre pictures of children that she exhibited, around twenty in total, were engraved, though their titles suggest that her work was largely inspired by the oeuvre of Greuze (e.g., Young girl holding a dove, small boy playing a violin, etc.; see ibid.).

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