Miniature portrait

by Adélaïde Labille-Guiard

February 2013

Nationalmuseum has acquired a spectacular miniature by Adélaïde Labille-Guiard. One of the most important women artists in late 18th-century France, she was not previously represented in the museum’s collections. The work is interesting on account of the motif alone, depicting a woman, albeit an amateur, in the role of artist.

Miniature portraits by Adélaïde Labille-Guiard (1749–1803) are extraordinarily rare. Her depiction of Madame Lefranc Painting a Portrait of Her Husband Charles Lefranc was painted five years after she made her debut (1779). Like many other female artists, she realized early on that miniature portraits offered a steady source of income. She was a pupil of the Swiss enamellist François-Élie Vincent, a neighbour of her father’s fashion shop in Paris. Gradually Labille-Guiard also took up working with pastels. She frequently reproduced these works in a smaller format as miniatures. After her election to the French Royal Academy of Art in 1783, she switched over completely to large-scale oil portraits. By then, Labille-Guiard had acquired pupils such as Marie-Gabrielle Capet and Marie-Thérèse de Noireterre. It became their job to translate her portraits into miniature format to satisfy the ever-changing demands of customers.

The acquisition of this spectacular work by Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, made possible by a generous donation from the Hjalmar and Anna Wicander Foundation, has filled a major gap in Nationalmuseum’s world-renowned miniatures collection. Madame Lefranc Painting a Portrait of Her Husband Charles Lefranc also documents a time when women began to emerge as serious artists.

Inventory Number: NMB 2625

Picture: Miniature portrait by Adélaïde Labille-Guiard

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, Madame Lefranc Painting a Portrait of Her Husband Charles Lefranc.


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