Élisabeth Louise Vigée Lebrun (1755-1842) was one of the most prominent European artists of her era; today, she is recognized and celebrated as one of the most significant portraitists in 18th-century France and one of the most successful women artists of all time. If you've been itching to do some reading about Madame Vigée Lebrun but haven't made it out to the library yet, you're in luck: I've compiled a short list of recommendations on books about Élisabeth Vigée Lebrun that are sure to have you reaching for your late-night reading lamp.
If you want to get up close and personal, check out...
The Memoirs of Madame Vigée Lebrun by Louise-Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun
What better way to get acquainted with Madame Lebrun than reading her own reflection on her decades-long career and life that took her from the streets of pre-revolutionary Paris to the courts of nearly every monarch in Europe? The edition illustrated above includes a modern introduction, but if you don't want to wait, the original 1903 Lionel Strachey translation of Memoirs is available to read for free online.
If you're into art history or want something more nuanced, check out...
The Exceptional Woman: Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun and the Cultural Politics of Art by Mary D. D. Sheriff
Sheriff's focused study of Lebrun's career explores Lebrun's work through the lens of social, political, professional and even philosophical debates about women artists and the role o women in 18th-century France. Sheriff's work proposes ways that Lebrun's portraits undermined traditional assumptions regarding women in her era.
If you want an all-in-one illustrated book with historical essays and biographical information, check out...
Vigée Le Brun by Joseph Baillio, Katharaine Baetjer, and Paul Lang
This book was published in 2016 to coincide with an expansive touring exhibition of Lebrun's portraits. The book is illustrated with 85 of her portraits and drawings and includes a biography of her life along with essays from historians and art experts regarding specific portraits, her role as a woman artist, and more.