image: A self portrait by Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun, circa 1808-1809. From a private collection. Image via HyperAllergic.
This self-portrait by Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun was done when the artist was around 52 years of old; it is a unique contrast to her earlier and more well-known portraits depicting her in popular English-style gowns and fashions of her youth. While it would be greatly exaggerating to say the artist depicted herself in an unflattering light here, even this self-portrait shows signs of the artist's maturity since the days of her more youthful self-portraits. Deeper fine lines, a slight double-chin, and more refined--rather than youthful--fashions help mark the passage of time. Yet her gaze and her smile retains the elusive mixture of kindness, sincerity, intelligence and even a hint of mystery that always graced Vigee-Lebrun's self-portraits, from her earliest pastel self-portrait at aged 16 to her famous 'Self-Portrait in a Straw Hat' and even, as this work shows, in the paintings the artist made well into the 19th century.