French painting

Portrait of Countess Skavronskaia

Elisabeth Vigee Lebrun
Paris, 1755 - Paris, 1842

1790, oil on canvas, 135 x 95 cm

This full-length portrait of the Countess Skavronska was painted in Naples in 1790.
As the appointed portraitist to Queen Marie-Antoinette, Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun immortalised her features in the days of her glory and, faithful to her beliefs, she left France on the eve of the revolution, beginning a journey that was to lead her through the courts of Europe. In Naples, she was received by the Count Skavronsky, ambassador of Poland. The Count made her promise to paint the portrait of his wife, an extremely elegant woman with a narrow mind, if her contemporaries are to be believed. Furthermore, the artist noted in her journal: “The Countess was as mild and pretty as an angel … By day, she remained constantly idle; she had no education, and her conversation was most stupid. In spite of all that, thanks to her delightful countenance and an angelic sweetness, she had an irresistible charm.” Who can doubt it when faced with the extraordinary subtlety of the work, the delicate strokes, the harmony of colours. The dominance of blue and green tones gives this painting a noble coldness avoiding any sentimentality.

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