Best known as the author of the Portrait of a Negress in the Musée du Louvre, Paris (Inv. no. 2508), the artist was one of Jacques-Louis David's most distinguished female students. In 1781 or 1782 she was sent by her father to study with Marie-Louise-Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun, who in turn put her under David's tutelage, a move that had to be approved by the Directeur des Bâtiments, the Comte d'Angiviller, since the king had decreed in 1785 that young women artists were not to be trained in the Louvre. Benoist received her first official commission to paint Napoleon's portrait for the Palais de Justice at Ghent, and later obtained further commissions for portraits of the emperor and his family. She received a gold medal for her work in 1804 and subsequently established a studio for women about which, sadly, nothing is known. For a fuller discussion of the artist, see Margaret A. Oppenheimer, Three newly identified Paintings by Marie-Guillelmine Benoist, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Journal, vol. 31, 1996, pp. 143-50.