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√Člisabeth Vig√©e Le Brun | Self-Portrait in a Straw Hat, 1782


Artist: Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (French Neoclassical painter, 1755-1842)
Full title: Self Portrait in a Straw Hat
Date made: 1782
Medium and support: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 97.8 x 70.5 cm
Current location: National Gallery, London

"Self-Portrait in a Straw Hat" is a signed copy by the artist of a very popular self portrait that she painted in 1782 and which is now in the collection of the baronne Edmond de Rothschild.
The pose is deliberately modelled on Rubens’s Portrait of Susanna Lunden (?) (also in the National Gallery’s collection), which was formerly, but incorrectly, known as Le Chapeau de Paille (The Straw Hat).

Rubens | Portrait of Susanna Lunden | National Gallery, London

Vigée Le Brun offers us a highly calculated image in which she explicitly associates herself with a great artist and his sitter. Looking at us directly with an open expression as she holds the tools of her profession (a palette and brushes), she presents herself as an elegant society lady and as an accomplished professional artist.
By posing outdoors - and not, for example, in a studio - she replicates the contrasting light effects in Rubens’s portrait by combining ordinary daylight with direct sunlight. | © The National Gallery, London