Vigée Le Brun by Farington (1802)

Farington, Joseph
Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, ‘Portrait of Giuseppina Grassini’, 1803, Musée Calvet, Avignon.
Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, ‘Self-Portrait in a Straw Hat’, After 1782, National Gallery, NG 1653.


"Madame Le Brun has been much celebrated in France & in Italy for her skill in portrait painting."


Beautiful Vigée Le Brun

Madame Le Brun has been much celebrated in France & in Italy for her skill in portrait painting. She appears to be abt. 40 years of age, & is a very handsome woman, with a very lively expression of countenance. She was at one time much in the confidence of the late unfortunate Queen of France & wd. not have escaped the Guillotine had she remained in France. Her name was mentioned in the necklace story so much talked of.

Signor Torcia informed me that He had resided in England two years, and was much acquainted with Brompton, the Portrait Painter. He adressed Mr. Erskine aloud across the table, and said that He re- minded him of the Bust of Demosthenes. Mr. Erskine replied that He feared the resemblance would not be found; but if his features were similar to those of that Champion of liberty, He hoped his coun- tenance would never change. This answer was noticed by the company with loud applause, it having been translated to the French who did not understand English.

Signor Torcia spoke of England to me and Sharpe. He said that whoever wished to be a man should go to England for three or four years, be He a German,-a Frenchman, an Italian,-or of any other Country. "That Country, said He exhibits a model for mankind." Mr. West told me that Monsr. Moitte is the best Sculptor in France, and equal to the Antique in His Basso relievos.-He observed of Madame Vincent [wife of the artist] that she painted better than Madame Le Brun.


Joseph Farington, The Farington diary / edited by James Greig, vol. 2/8, p. 35. Full text from wellcomecollection.