Alongside the French Revolution of 1789, a cultural revolution was also brewing – the emergence of the female painter and the story of artistic equality. Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun and Adélaïde Labille-Guiard are thrilling examples of female success in a man’s world. They take the official institutions by storm and defy convention at every step of the way.
In the tumultuous lead-up to the opening years of the 19th century, their story is the perfect way to set the scene for this series. With upheaval churning all around them, we’ll question the way they depicted Marie Antoinette and the royal family in a time of unprecedented change. We’ll look at their attitudes to the shifting role of motherhood, and above all, how they used the self-portrait to show the world that women artists could provide fresh perspectives for a new artistic future.