The Memoirs of Madame Vigée Lebrun (Google eBook)

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Grant Richards, 1903 - Women - 233 pages
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Memoirs of Madame Vigée Lebrun

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Unfortunately, this is but a reprint of the 1903 abridged, translated version of Vigee Lebrun's Souvenirs de Madame Vigee Le Brun . This first-hand account, written late in life, appeared in three ... Read full review

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Mme. Vigée-Lebrun's memoirs bring to life parts of the French Revolution and its aftermath. She glosses over a great deal, but gives us charming details not covered in other works. She was not only a gifted artist, but seems to have been a delightful person, as well. This book is worth the reading. 

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Page 177 - ... the physical distinction of sex. If we take an assemblage of persons of both sexes, and test the differences of thought, opinion, or capacity existing among them, by putting before them any proposition on which opposite views can be held, I believe it would be impossible to find one which would range all the men on one side, and all the women on the other. If it were true that there is a specific difference, however slight, between the minds of men and women, it would be possible to find such...
Page 68 - I confess that her grief made little impression on me, since it seemed to me that she was playing a part. I was evidently not mistaken, because a few minutes later, having noticed some music lying on my piano, she took up a lively tune and began to sing it.16 There were others also who thought that Lady Hamilton's grief was perhaps rather more theatrical than deeply felt.
Page 108 - ... Cultivated women were essential to polite society and Catherine encouraged aristocratic women to follow her lead.35 So successfully did she promote the pleasures of worldly society that the artist and connoisseur of polite society, Elisabeth Vigee Lebrun, who visited Russia in the 1790s, recalled, "There were innumerable balls, concerts and theatrical performances, and I thoroughly enjoyed these gatherings, where I found all the urbanity, all the grace of French company.
Page 28 - ... the first thing I saw on entering the palace yard. I nevertheless went upstairs to speak with the chamberlains on duty. One of them, M. Campan, received me with a stiff and haughty manner, and bellowed at me in his stentorian voice, 'It was yesterday, madame, that Her Majesty expected you, and I am sure she is going out driving, and I am very sure she will give you no sitting today!' Upon my reply that I had simply come to take her Majesty's orders for another day, he went to the Queen, who at...
Page 69 - One group they made together reminded me of Poussin's "Rape of the Sabines." She changed from grief to joy and from joy to terror so rapidly and effectively that we were all enchanted.
Page 26 - ... ,was nearly blue, and they had an intellectual and mild expression ; her nose was thin and handsome, her mouth not too large, though the lips were rather thick. But the most remarkable thing about her face was the brilliancy of her complexion. I never saw any so brilliant — yes, brilliant is the word — for her skin was so transparent that it took no shade. Hence I never could render its effect so as to please myself ; I lacked colours to represent that freshness, those delicate tones, which...
Page 17 - The handsome trees, the carpets of green, the flowers, the fountains, one of which spouted up so high that it was lost from sight — it was all grand, all regal ; it all spoke of Louis XIV. One morning I met Queen Marie Antoinette walking in the park with several of the ladies of her court. They were all in white dresses, and so young and pretty that for a moment I thought I was in a dream. I was with my mother, and was turning away when the Queen was kind enough to stop me, and invited me to continue...
Page 49 - It is difficult to convey an idea of the urbanity, the graceful ease, in a word the affability of manners which made their charm of Parisian society forty years ago. The women reigned then: the Revolution dethroned them
Page 26 - Her features were not regular; she derived from her family that long, narrow oval peculiar to the Austrian nation. Her eyes were not large, their colour was nearly blue, and they had an intellectual and mild expression ; her nose was thin and handsome ; her mouth not too large, though the lips were rather thick. But the most remarkable thing about her face was the brilliancy of her complexion.
Page 22 - This reminds me that in 1786, when I was painting the Queen, I begged her not to wear powder and to part her hair in front. "I shall be the last to follow that fashion,

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