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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard

b. 1749, Paris; d. 1803, France

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard studied painting with François-Élie Vincent and then his son, François-André Vincent, to whom she was later married. In 1783, she was elected to the Académie Royale in Paris along with three other women (a quota on female membership limited the entrants to four), including Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun. That same year, she established a studio on the rue Richelieu, where she operated a busy portrait practice, excelling in naturalistic pastels and oils, and offered classes to girls. The livelihood of women artists depended upon the patronage of royal women and in 1787 Labille-Guiard was named First Painter to the daughters of Louis XV. However, the Revolution of 1789, while opening the Salons to women artists, discredited those who had worked under the ancien régime. As colleagues fled the country, Labille-Guiard, who was sympathetic to the Revolution, gamely remade her career, documenting in paint various members of the National Assembly. Although her portrait practice did not regain its former profitability, she was an active participant in the debates unleashed by the Revolution over women’s access to education and financial support.