LSU Art History Professor Darius A. Spieth was invited to contribute an article in French to the current issue of La Grande Galerie, the official journal of the Louvre Museum.
The invitation was extended on the occasion of the exhibition Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, 1755-1842, held in the Grand Palais exhibition space in Paris. Spieth’s essay highlights the life of Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun’s husband, Jean-Baptiste Pierre Le Brun, a leading Parisian art dealer at the turn of the 19th century.
Best known for being Queen Marie-Antoinette’s portraitist, Mme Vigée Le Brun was a painter of extraordinary talent. Her accomplishments as an artist largely eclipsed the historical significance of her spouse as an art dealer and as a powerbroker in the Louvre’s administration during the French Revolution. Catering to a foreign and noble clientele before the Revolution of 1789, Jean-Baptiste Pierre Le Brun turned into a supporter of radical Jacobins like Maximilien Robespierre or painter Jacques-Louis David. A personal friend of David, Le Brun played a crucial role in helping the French revolutionaries gain control of the artistic riches left behind by the crown, clergy, and nobility. He promoted the acquisition of 17th-century Netherlandish art by the newly founded museum, worked for the French revenue services as an art appraiser, and acted as an external advisor for the Louvre until Napoleon Bonaparte’s arrival at power in 1799. During the Revolution, he divorced Mme Vigée Le Brun, who, as a royalist supporter, had left France to escape the political turmoil. Le Brun’s attempts to launch a comeback as an art dealer in the early 19th century were met with little success so that he had to sell, in 1807, the premises of his expansive art gallery to his ex-wife.
Visit amisdulouvre.fr/images/grande-galerie/archives/GG33.pdf to view Spieth’s article in La Grande Galerie. View the current issue of La Grande Galerie at amisdulouvre.fr/grande-galerie/grande-galerie.htm. For more information about the exhibition, Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, 1755-1842 in the Grand Palais, visit grandpalais.fr/en/event/elisabeth-louise-vigee-le-brun.
The magazine Grande Galerie, le Journal du Louvre is devoted to the artistic and cultural life of the Musée du Louvre. Designed as an original, accessible, and informative aid to a museum visit, it also reflects the richness of the museum’s collection and events, and is a collectible reference work. In addition to information on current exhibitions and events at the Louvre, the magazine includes news of the acquisitions and restoration projects that keep the collection alive and the sponsors and donors whose support makes that possible. Special features are devoted to famous or lesser-known treasures housed in the museum, with original thematic trails for adults and children alike. Elegantly laid out and beautifully illustrated, with articles by curators, eminent art historians, writers, artists, and special guest contributors, Grande Galerie, le Journal du Louvre is sure to delight all devotees of the Louvre and its treasures. Visit editions.louvre.fr/en/grande-galerie.html for more information about Le Grande Galerie.