Description of the artwork
Elisabeth-Louise Vigée LeBrun was a famous French painter, born on 16 April 1755, and died on March 30, 1842. She is without a doubt one of the most recognized female painters of the 18th century thanks to several of her paintings. One of Elisabeth-Louise’s paintings located in Indianapolis Museum of Art is Portrait of Mrs. Chinnery(Baden, Michael, and Kevin 3). In this portrait, Elisabeth-Louise’s primary purpose was to emphasize the good taste of fashion Margaret Chinnery had. Besides, through the painting, Elisabeth-Louise depicted Margaret Chinnery as a cultured woman as she read a work by the author Madame de Genlis. Her description of Mrs. Chinnery as a “handsome woman with a great charm and finesse” is evident in the painting. The painting reveals Mrs. Chinnery’s physical beauty and her pleasant and attractive smile. She appears to be reading a book, and she is wearing a beautiful red dress that is attractive to every viewer of the portrait. In the painting, Mrs. Chinnery appears to cover her head with a light clothing that clearly depicts her powerful sense of fashion even in the ancient times. Regarding size, Portrait of Mrs. Chinneryis 36 by 28 inches, which is approximately 91.4 by 71.1 cm. With this size, it is visible from a distance and in most locations, such as Indianapolis Museum of Art, it is hung on the wall. Regarding color, the portrait has a dark green background, on which the portrait rests. On the portrait, Elisabeth-Louise uses a red color to depict Mrs. Chinnery’s dress. Mrs. Chinnery’s head is covered with a piece of cloth with traces of white and gray. At the lower right part of the paint, there is a dark green color that depicts a cushion on which the book held by Mrs. Chinnery rests. The book itself is depicted by a white color and traces of brown color at the ends. The frame around the painting is clearly brown in color. Further observation of the painting reveals traces of brown that depict Mrs. Chinnery’s hair. The hair is held by a band with traces of orange and yellow colors. Moreover, in the portrait, Mrs. Chinnery appears to be wearing golden necklaces that lie toward her chest. Regarding shape, the painting is in a rectangular frame, which is one of the factors that make it attractive to the viewer. From a viewer’s perspective, the painting is smooth as can be seen in the face of Mrs. Chinnery. The hands, as well, appear to be smooth, and this supports the argument that the painting has a smooth texture. The background seems to be smooth from the perspective of the viewer, which also supports the argument the paintings smooth texture. In most of her paintings, Elisabeth-Louise used oil on canvas, and this is one of her several paintings that use oil and canvas as materials.
Explanation of how/why the work is a typical example of the artist’s work
As already mentioned, Portrait of Mrs. Chinneryis one of the famous paintings of Elisabeth-Louise of the 18th century. An evident artistic style in the painting us Rococo, which is a style of decoration believed to have originated in France in the early 18th century. Rococo, as a style, is characterized by elaborate and graceful lighting and ornamentation that often contains asymmetrical motifs(Charles and Klaus 184).Portrait of Mrs. Chinneryis characterized by ornamentation as depicted by Mrs. Chinnery’s necklaces and orange-yellow hairband. Moreover, the painting depicts an elaborate and graceful lighting, which marks Elisabeth-Louise’s primary artistic style. According to research on artistic works of the 18th century, Elisabeth-Louise was one of the famous female artists of the time and was known for her stylish and sympathetic portrayals of the European nobility. To some extent, Portrait of Mrs. Chinneryreflects or portrays stylish and sympathetic European nobility. In the portrait, Mrs. Chinnery is stylish, and she depicts some sympathy. These perspectives explain how and why Portrait of Mrs. Chinnery is a typical example of Elisabeth-Louise’s artwork.
Situating the artwork historically
Portrait of Mrs. Chinnery was done by Elisabeth-Louise in 1803 and remains of one her most recognized works of the 18th century. Her style, Rococo, also known as late Baroque, is considered an early to late French 18th century-artistic movement and style. The rococo style, developed during the Baroque movement, was used by artists such as Elisabeth-Louise to react against the symmetry, grandeur, as well as strict regulations of the Baroque style that were used previously(Inmann 89). Other than the Rococo or late Baroque, most of Elisabeth-Louise’s paintings including Portrait of Mrs. Chinneryshow some level of interest in the neoclassical style of painting. However, she is more of a late Baroque artist than a Neoclassicist. The primary meaning depicted in this painting is Margaret Chinnery’s good taste and sense of fashion as seen in her red dress, stylish hair, and orange-yellow band across her hair. Moreover, the fact that Elisabeth-Louise used the rococo style in the painting was meant to express her stand alongside other artists against the strict regulations of the previous Baroque style.
Baden, Linda, Michael Cavanagh, and Kevin Montague. Masterworks from the Indiana University Art Museum. Bloomington: Indiana University Art Museum, 2007. Print.
Charles, Victoria, and Klaus Carl. Rococo: Art of Century. New York: Confidential Concepts, 2014. Print.
Inmann, Christiane. Forbidden Fruit: A History of Women and Books in Art. Munich: Prestel, 2009. Print.