Brooklyn Museum Acquires Portrait by Vigée Le Brun

Posted in museums by Editor on April 28, 2019

From the press release (26 April 2019) . . .

Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, Portrait of Countess Maria Theresia Czernin, 1793, oil on canvas, 54 x 39 inches (Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Lilla Brown in memory of her husband John W. Brown, Mrs. Watson B. Dickerman, A. Augustus Healy, Helen Babbott MacDonald, Charles H. Schieren, and L.L. Themal, by exchange, 2018.53).

The Brooklyn Museum announced significant new acquisitions that emphasize the institution’s dedication to presenting diverse narratives through its collection. The artists represented by these acquisitions span a wide range of aesthetic styles, mediums, eras, and nationalities. Highlights include over 3,000 vernacular photographs documenting a century of women’s history from the Kaplan-Henes Collection; a work by eighteenth-century French portrait painter Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun; a portrait gifted by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; a significant gift of over fifty photographs by experimental Chinese contemporary artists; and a painting created specifically for the Brooklyn Museum by one of China’s most important living artists, Xu Bing. Works by Al Held, Chris Martin, and Joan Snyder also join the collection.

Anne Pasternak, Shelby White and Leon Levy Director, Brooklyn Museum, says, “We are so excited by these transformational works of art that add significantly to the strengths of our exceptional collections, and we are tremendously grateful to the generous donors behind them who make it possible for our institution to continue telling trailblazing stories of inclusion through art.”

Portrait of Countess Maria Theresia Czernin by Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun

Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun is one of the most celebrated portrait painters of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Europe. She secured the patronage of the French aristocracy and served as portrait painter to Marie Antoinette. Vigée Le Brun became one of only four women members of the French Royal Academy in 1783 and spent her later years enjoying fame and financial success. This large, striking portrait by Vigée Le Brun is notable for the way it presents the sitter, Countess Maria Theresia Czernin. Vigée Le Brun paints the countess holding an open book about ancient Greece, suggesting that she was engaged in scholarship and history, qualities that were more often seen in portraits of men at the time.

The portrait allows the Brooklyn Museum to present a more inclusive narrative of European art with regard to the contributions of women and to further explore how identity in portraiture is visually constructed and constituted along cultural, class, political, and gender lines. It will strengthen the current presentation of historical portraiture in the Museum’s European Art galleries. It also provides an important link between our historical collections and Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party, where Vigée Le Brun is referenced on the floor of the work and in the historical timeline. . . .

The full press release is available here»

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