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Painting the self: craft, skills, knowledge

« Peinte par elle-même? »

Women artists, teachers and students from Anguissola to Haudebourt-Lescot
« Peinte par elle-même ? » Femmes artistes, professeurs et élèves, d’Anguissola à Haudebourt-Lescot
Melissa Hyde

Résumés

Cet article analyse ce que les portraits et autoportraits de plusieurs artistes femmes peuvent nous dire au sujet des problèmes d’attribution et d’identité artistique en même temps que sur les relations entre les élèves féminines et leurs maîtres en peinture qui sont souvent représentées par les autoportraits. Si ces relations ne sont pas marquées par les drames œdipiens qui émaillent de manière si caractéristique les récits de filiation des artistes masculins, elles ne sont pas moins complexes et dans bien des cas sont remplies de tensions et de conflits qui leur sont propres.

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Texte intégral

I.

  • 1 This essay is developed out of a paper presented at the Institut National d'Histoire de l'Art in co (...)
  • 2 Hortense Haudebourt-Lescot, Autoportrait, v. 1825, Louvre, RMN, http://www.culture.gouv.fr/public/m (...)
  • 3 Augustin Jal, Esquisses, croquis, pochades ou Tout ce qu’on voudra sur le Salon de 1827, Paris, A. (...)

1Wandering1 through the Salon of 1827, a naïve Scotsman comes upon a self-portrait by Hortense Haudebourt-Lescot (possibly her self-portrait of 1825, now in the Louvre)2. Upon being told that it is a portrait of her “peinte par elle-même”, the Scotsman exclaims to his French companion: “En vérité; quoi! c’est de la peinture de femme? Quelle fermeté de ton et de pinceau!” The Frenchman replies: “C’est une femme d’un talent véritable, et qui cette année semble avoir encore fait des progrès.”3

Hortense Haudebourt-Lescot, Autoportrait, v. 1825

[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

  • 4 For the trope of the naïve outsider in eighteenth-century Salon criticism, see Anne Lafont, “Commen (...)
  • 5 See Susan Siegfried in “Expression d’une subjectivité féminine dans les journaux pour femmes,” Mech (...)
  • 6 On Haudebourt-Lescot’s portrait of her mother: “C’est une chose fort remarquable, qui sort des habi (...)

2This imaginary conversation comes from a chapter in Augustin Jal’s critical commentary on the famous Salon of 1827. The conversational form and the device of the naïve outsider that he adopts in his little sketch, are a love-letter to eighteenth-century Salon criticism4. Perhaps also taking a cue from certain enlightened men of the eighteenth century, Jal himself – who plays the enlightened man in the conversation – takes “la peinture de femme” seriously. This was a surprisingly progressive position for a notoriously truculent art critic writing in 1827, a time when the degree of cultural acceptance, the professional gains and visibility achieved by women artists at the end of the Ancien Régime and during the Revolution were being eroded, even though female artists were regarded as a major presence in the art scene at this time5. That said, at a later point in the text, Jal nevertheless expresses his own wonderment at the existence of such a talented (read: exceptional) woman artist6.

  • 7 Jal, Esquisses, p. 269. He notes that people questioned whether David had actually painted works by (...)
  • 8 An infamous instance of the question of authorship occurred with the disgrace of Marguerite Haverma (...)

3In this respect Jal fell into line with a long history of cultural attitudes towards women artists that ranged from patronizing amazement to skepticism, ridicule, and outright hostility. According to Jal, Haudebourt-Lescot, like many successful women before her, had long endured the skepticism of critics who cast doubt on the authorship of her works, preferring instead to attribute them to her teacher, Guillaume Guillon Léthiere7. Thus when Jal characterized Haudebourt-Lescot’s self-portrait as “peinte par elle-même,” he made a statement that cut two ways: he was reminding readers of the rumors about her work, even as he was refuting them. The allegation that they did not paint their own works suggests one basic reason (among many) that women painted portraits of themselves as artists8.

4To this day, the authorship of one of the first, and still most compelling, essays in self-portraiture (by man or woman) of the early modern period continues to be contested. I refer to Sofonisba Anguissola’s 1558-1559 painting, in which she depicted her teacher Bernardino Campi painting her portrait.

Sofonisba Anguissola, Self-portrait with Bernardino Campi

Oil on canvas, 1110 x 1095mm (43 3/4 x 43 1/8"). Pinacoteca Nazionale, Sienna, 1550.

[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

  • 9 Jordana Pomeroy et al., Italian Women Artists from Renaissance to Baroque, New York, Skira, 2007, p (...)
  • 10 Melissa Hyde, “Getting into the Picture: Boucher’s Self-Portraits of Others”, Rethinking Boucher, M (...)
  • 11 See the compelling version of this narrative, in which sons “are brought over and over again to the (...)

5Besides the long-standing tendency to ascribe works of women artists to their male teachers, doubts about whether Anguissola had a hand in making this picture hinge on its central conceit: that it is Campi’s self-portrait. The consensus now seems to be, following Giovanni Morelli who first made the identification in 1890, that the painting is in fact by Anguissola.9 As such it falls into a category I call the “self-portrait of another;” by which I mean a painting that does not look like a self-portrait, but is.10 Other examples of this and its corollary, the portrait that looks like a self-portrait, but is not, will figure in the present essay, along with examples of more or less conventional self-portraits by eighteenth-century women artists. My aim is to consider what such portraits can tell us about women artists, their self-representation, and their relationships to their teachers. These teacher/student relationships do not usually involve the Oedipal dramas we have come to expect in narratives of filiation relating to male artists and their male students, but are no less complex, and in many cases are fraught with their own tensions and conflicts11.

  • 12 “From the works by the hand of the beautiful [Anguissola], your [Campi’s] creation, which I am here (...)
  • 13 As Kathleen Russo has put it, “Anguissola is the only known artist who depicted her teacher in a pa (...)

6One trope that historically recurs in discussions of women artists and their male teachers is that the student is the creation of the master. This is exactly how one of Anguissola’s contemporaries referred to her in a letter to Campi. In casting her as “the creation” of her master, the letter essentially attributed her abilities to Campi12. At first glance, Anguissola’s painting would seem to confirm this idea – thereby respecting the double hierarchy of gender and of the student/teacher relation. But, as numerous scholars have pointed out, a second look reveals a more complicated picture13. In the painting’s current state, Anguissola made the apparently deferential move of presenting herself as a figure of Campi’s making. But what Campi is shown painting is in reality Anguissola’s self-portrait, and of course, she is also the actual author of his image, here, as well as of her own. This kind of visual play is entirely in keeping with the Mannerist taste for riddles and teasing the viewer.

  • 14 Masafumi Monden, Japanese fashion cultures: dress and gender in contemporary Japan, London and New (...)

7But let us consider for a moment how she presents herself: she appears as a slightly aloof, beautiful and beautifully dressed young woman, gloves in hand like an aristocrat. Just how beautifully dressed she originally was, can now be seen thanks to the recent restoration of the portrait, which uncovered an elegant red brocade gown beneath the far more austere black one, which so closely echoes Campi’s. Posed impassively, Anguissola downplays her own identity/practice as an artist, as Campi is shown putting the finishing touches on the gown. But if Anguissola presents herself as modest, demure, deferential, her self-portrait-cum-portrait is also illuminated and central, her figure dominates the composition. So there is a tension here between Campi’s image of Anguissola and the visual complexity of the overall painting as it signals the sophistication and complicity of her thinking. The tableau itself playfully subverts the proprieties by the very fact of her being its true author. As such, it engages in a kind of resistance to norms of femininity that (in a different context) have been usefully termed “a delicate kind of revolt”14.

8The image becomes that much more intriguing when we consider what else the restoration uncovered: originally, Anguissola positioned her left-hand differently: not holding gloves, but touching Campi’s hand in a way that suggests her hand is guiding his, or is at least working in conjunction with it15. Whatever her reasons for changing the composition, it would seem that at some point in the process, Anguissola thought of presenting herself more actively as an artist and less as Campi’s “creation.” Thus, in the story behind this painting there is quite literally more than meets the eye. While that may in some sense be true of all pictures, I want to suggest that it is especially so for the work of women artists, because typically we know so little about the work, and often, even less about their authors. How many of them might also have considered a less delicate kind of revolt in their self-presentations and then thought better of it?

  • 16 The phrase comes from Marianne Hirsch, The Mother/Daughter Plot: Narrative, Psychoanalysis, Feminis (...)

9Haudebourt-Lescot’s self-presentation suggests she did not have to. Neither young nor beautiful, she was the first woman to adopt the male artist’s beret, and modeled herself directly on her artistic fore-fathers. Whichever self-portrait she exhibited at the Salon of 1827, it was well-received by the critics, as was the other portrait she showed that year: the two flanked François Gérard’s famous St Thérèse (Infirmirie Marie-Thérèse, Paris). This was a portrait of her mother (untraced), a move that suggests a definition of self not in terms of conventional ideals of femininity or the artist/father – or not only in terms of that, but also in terms of the mother. Haudebourt-Lescot’s highly public gesture raises questions about the possibilities of a “mother/daughter plot” when it comes to narratives of filiation16.

  • 17 A notable exception is to be found in Gretchen van Slyke’s refreshing account of the abiding import (...)

10I have begun by highlighting Anguissola and Haudebourt-Lescot, not to suggest that there was a European tradition of female self-portraiture, for there was not – not in the sense of a conscious understanding of what had gone before, and certainly not in France until the end of the eighteenth century. Rather, I am interested in how these very different self-portraits speak to issues of artistic identity, authorship and filiation that consistently circulated around women artists well into the nineteenth century. The Anguissola painting offers an example of the importance of the artist/father; and how, from the first, women artists worked within cultural conventions of femininity, while also subverting them, often in subtle and sophisticated ways. Haudebourt-Lescot not only offers a quite different sense of the horizon of possibilities by the early nineteenth century, but reminds us that women artists had mothers and often were mothers themselves, sometimes symbolically (as progenitors of other artists) rather than biologically. How the mother – a figure too often overlooked in the history of women artists – factored into women’s self-representations (or did not) is of interest to me in this essay, and I will be returning to it at the end of this essay, though I will not be able to do the subject full justice here17.

II.

11There are many images of French women artists dating from the eighteenth century – and it is often difficult to tell whether or not they are portraits “peints par elle même”. One of the most superb instances of that is an unattributed portrait of an unidentified woman artist in the Art Institute of Chicago18. It depicts a woman seated before an easel, with palette, brushes, and a piece of paper (a small sketch? a letter?) in one hand. The other hand rests lightly on the arm of her chair as she turns away from her canvas to look off to her right, beyond the frame of the picture. Though beautifully dressed in a splendid blue-green brocade robe volante, this woman who, like Haudebourt-Lescot, is neither especially pretty nor particularly young, is frankly portrayed without affectation or cosmetic enhancements. Her demeanor, pensive gaze and the hint of a smile playing at her lips, suggest a keen and lively intelligence. The countenance of this sitter, with her heavily lidded and slightly protruding eyes, cleft chin and rounded cheeks, has a specificity and individuality to it, and her expression conveys a sense of interiority. These aspects of the portrait, combined with the prominence of the palette, brushes in the sitter’s hand and the canvas behind her, make it a portrayal of an artist who is a woman, more than a woman who is an artist. Together these qualities suggest that what we are presented with here is the candid likeness of a person, an actual woman, and almost certainly not an allegory of painting19. Yet there are peculiarities in the picture that make it seem to be about more than capturing a likeness or personality of a particular artist and that beg for explanation.

  • 20 See for example, Mme de Genlis, Les Veillées du château, ou Cours de moral à l’usage des enfants, v (...)

12First and foremost is the unusual detail of the blank palette that the painter holds in her left hand, and second is the blank canvas behind her to her left, which might not be so remarkable, were it not for the way her shadow is projected onto it, thanks to the strong directional lighting coming from an unseen source at the left. Given the de-emphasis on the work of the depicted artist’s hand, the elision of her engagement with the materiality of paint itself and her abstracted gaze directed away from the easel, perhaps what is on offer here is an image of the artist doing generative intellectual work, which would be especially noteworthy, since much of the discourse about women – particularly later in the eighteenth century, argued that women lacked precisely the powers of intellection demanded by the great genres, though there were always dissenters on this subject20. If it is indeed a première pensée that she holds in her hand – the horizontal format of the sheet, the sketchy suggestion of pictorial forms on it hint that it is – this feature again suggests the idea of a work begun, but not yet realized. In this stage before the creative process is fully materialized, first through dessein on paper and then in color on canvas, she seems to be receiving the light of inspiration. That is suggested by the golden hues illuminating her face. But what of her shadow? Might it be a projection of a self-portrait she is about to begin? Or could it be a device to suggest a posthumous portrait? Whatever the answer, the enigmatically bare palette that the unknown woman artist holds, is a singular detail that when taken together with the empty canvas and its shadowy effigy, introduces a somehow melancholic sense of absence that perfectly thematizes the double loss of both the actual and the depicted artists’ identities.

  • 21 “Paintress” is a term that Rousseau and Mme Marie Anne de La Tour used in their correspondence of 1 (...)
  • 22 See Natalie Heinich, Du peintre à l’artiste: Artisans et académiciens à l’âge classique, Paris, Min (...)
  • 23 A point playfully acknowledged by Griselda Pollock and Rozsika Parker, when they pointed out that i (...)

13Aside from these enigmatic elements (which may argue against its being a self-portrait), the image is remarkable on several other counts. To begin with, there were no “women artists” in France until the latter part of the eighteenth-century. As early as 1711, one can find references to “femmes peintres”, or less often, to “peintresses”,but not to “femmes artistes”21. We first encounter the term in 1762, in an essay written by one of the female editors of the Journal des Dames, but it does not become common parlance until the 1780s. This is significant because of the crucial, qualitative differences between the terms peintre, which pertains to craft and the work of the hand, and artiste, which refers to the work of the mind22. The problem of nomenclature is more than just a matter of semantics: it is, rather, an indication that the very category of the woman artist was itself a vexed, even paradoxical, one23. Not only was there traditionally no word for a woman who was an artist, it could be difficult to conceive of such a thing, even when presented with it (still true in the nineteenth century, as the example of Haudebourt-Lescot attests). Yet here is the Chicago portrait, representing a woman who falls into this category which was not one.

  • 24 This is not surprising in view of the fact that there were so few portraits of male artists before (...)
  • 25 An inventory after Basseporte’s death in 1780 lists various portraits by Basseporte, including “le (...)

14The date of the image makes it all the more extraordinary, because in France, unlike Italy, England and the Netherlands, there were few images of women artists before the 1780s. Of these, fewer still can be identified as self-portraits24. Sophie Chéron, one of the first women admitted to the Académie, in 1672 produced a ground-breaking self-portrait for her reception piece (Musée du Louvre). But after Chéron, the next certainly attributed self-portrait by a woman is by the little known académicienne, Marie-Suzanne Roslin, and was probably not painted until the 1760s. We know that French women actually did paint self-portraits before Mme Roslin painted hers – the young Madeleine Basseporte did, for example25. But until the last quarter of the eighteenth century, there were remarkably few reference points for any French woman artist seeking a female model for defining and representing herself.

  • 26 Anne Coypel, wife of the sculptor François Dumont has been proposed (and doubted) as the sitter. Bu (...)

15Is the Chicago painting a self-portrait? Of all the attributions that have been proposed (Jospeh Aved, Carle Van Loo) the possibility has never seriously been entertained26. I prefer to leave the possibility open. Whether or not the Chicago picture is a self-portrait, it speaks to many concerns that arise when considering women’s self representations, including the most fundamental questions about the artist herself: who is she? what is her name? how did she get to be an artist? who were her teachers, and how did she navigate that relationship? what kinds of choices did she make in becoming an artist?

  • 27 Neil Jeffares cites a letter of 1751 of Read’s mentioning “my old master La Tour”. See “Katherine R (...)
  • 28 Mme Beaumer presents female emulation as a desirable thing. Nouveau Journal des Dames, 1 (1762): 29 (...)

16The example of Maurice Quentin de la Tour and his female students offers some insights into these questions. La Tour was among the first male artists (in France) to take women as students, starting around the middle of the eighteenth century. (These included the Scottish portraitist, Katherine Read27, and Madame Roslin in the 1750s, and later, the amateur artist from Holland, Isabelle de Charrière, and possibly also Adelaide Labille-Guiard). One might imagine that Read and Roslin would have sought to identify themselves with their celebrataed predecessor, Rosalba Carriera. As a pastellist and a woman, Carriera would seem to offer an ideal (and uncontroversial) example for emulation by other female pastellists28. But in fact, in their self-representations both Read and Roslin went out of their way to model themselves on the example of Quentin de la Tour.

  • 29 Jeffares, “Katherine Read,” in Dictionary of Pastellists, online edition, 1, accessed 26 October, 2 (...)
  • 30 Quoted in F. Steuart, “Miss Catherine Read, Court Paintress”, Scottish Historical Review, 1904, p.  (...)
  • 31 Nearly every woman artist for 50 years was called the Dutch, German, etc. Rosalba no matter whether (...)

17The depth of Read’s study with La Tour has been questioned by recent scholars because her pastels bear very little resemblance to his stylistically29. But her self-portrait “pointedly”, as it were, insists on her association with him. While working in Rome, she said in a letter to her brother: “I have succeeded beyond my expectation, and do not despair of doing something yet before I die that may bear a comparison with Rosalba or rather La Tour, who I must own is my model among all the Portrait Painters I have yet seen”30. There is more than a little irony in the fact Read was dubbed the “English Rosalba” by contemporaries31.

18Looking at Read’s self-portrait: she refers to Quentin de La Tour’s famous Portrait de l’auteur qui rit (1735), but the changes she makes are significant. There is the change of setting, which evokes British, rather than French portrait traditions; other changes might be ascribed to proprieties of gender: her garb is faintly classicizing, rather than the casual studio attire adopted by La Tour (adopting the dishabille of real working attire was a taboo that was almost never broken by women artists); and there is the more decorous facial expression. The decorousness of her expression is borne out by comparison to a variation on La Tour’s self-portrait by one of his male students, Joseph Ducreux, entitled Le Moqueur (1793, Musée du Louvre)32. I am inclined, too, to think that the change of medium is an important one: Read painted this portrait in oil, though the vast majority of her work was as a pastellist. Her self-portrait served both to identify and distinguish herself from her teacher – the challenge faced by every artist who worked with a master.

19La Tour’s other female student in the earlier years was Mme Roslin. She was one of the first women in France to explore problems of women’s artistic identity and is the subject of a future essay. For now, I note that her remarkable pastel self-portrait shows a fashionably dressed Marie-Suzanne Roslin in the act of copying La Tour’s L’auteur qui rit33. Visually and conceptually, Roslin’s self-portrait is considerably more complex than Read’s. And where Read hoped to bear comparison to La Tour, Mme Roslin’s self-portrait laid claim to being his émule34. But both Read and Roslin capitalized on their affiliation with La Tour, while nonetheless making clear a wish to assert their own artistic identity (in Roslin’s case, largely through the distinctions in dress, comportment and through differences between the teacher’s “original” image within the image and the student’s “copy” of it). By re-presenting or performing the work of their teachers, Read and Roslin (like Anguissola) subtly call into question the hierarchy of the student/master relation. This model of female identification with male artists went against social expectations that daughters should mirror their mothers – a point I will come back to at the end.

Suzanne-Marie Roslin, Self-Portrait, 1775

[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

20The wish for autonomy and the desire to assert an artistic identity of one’s own also informed the work of Rose-Adelaide Ducreux35. One might see in her splendid self-portrait playing the harp (1791, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City)36 a complete disavowal of any filial affinity with her father’s work. He is best known for his remarkable series of self-portraits in which he variously mocks, grins, yawns, gesticulates37.

Self-Portrait with a Harp, 1791

[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

  • 38 Anon. [P.-J-B Chaussard] [Salon de 1801], cited in Jeffares, “Joseph Ducreux”, 3. http://www.pastel (...)
  • 39 E. Bellier de la Chavignerie, “Les artistes du français du xviiie”, Revue universelle des arts n° 2 (...)
  • 40 Quoted in Georgette Lyon, Joseph Ducreux, Paris, La Nef, 1958, p. 81.
  • 41 Anon., “Exposition au Salon du Louvre...”, Affiches, annonces et avis divers...1791, cited in Jeffa (...)
  • 42 Livrets for subsequent Salons indicate she was his daughter, but she is only once listed as his stu (...)

21Primarily a pastellist, Ducreux père did sometimes paint in oil, but his attempts did not please critics. One of them described the paint brush as “his enemy”38. Ducreux fille also worked successfully in pastel, but unlike her father, the brush was clearly her friend, too – a point that was emphasized in the first self-portrait she exhibited publically. Shown at the Salon de la Correspondance in 1785, it was a pastel (untraced), but showed her painting: “elle prend de la couleur sur sa palette au moment de peindre”39. The full-length, life-sized Met self-portrait, exhibited in 1791 at the first open Louvre Salon, impressively displays her ability to paint in oil on a large scale and was well received. Critics inevitably compared father and daughter to one another, as their works were displayed in the same gallery at the Salon. Joseph Ducreux portrayed himself as Le Bâilleur, (Getty Museum) prompting the author of La Béquille de Voltaire au Salon to quip: “Chacun à son genre. M. Ducreux réussit parfaitement dans celui de faire bâiller”. But of his daughter, “peinte par elle-même,” the same critic effused: “vous êtes pétrie de grâces, Mademoiselle.”40 Another critic, also commenting on the pair in the same breath, remarked that “Mlle Ducreux [my emphasis] peut occuper une place très distinguée parmi les peintres.”41 Whether or not Rose Ducreux intended her self-portrait to be a form of delicate revolt, in its assertion of her complete difference from (and perhaps also surpassing of) her father, the task was nonetheless accomplished. It is perhaps a sign of her independence that she was only once listed as her father’s student – in the livret for the Salon of 1799, her last before her death in 180242.

  • 43 Certainly this was the case for Anguissola. The importance of fathers was first raised by Linda Noc (...)
  • 44 I use the term “professional” training, because in 1786 Pahin de la Blancherie explicitly refers to (...)

22Fathers and father-figures had long been essential to the formation of women artists43. No doubt Joseph Ducreux was similarly important in his daughter’s training as a professional artist44. Yet, her known portraits and self-portraits, all painted in oil and on an ambitious scale, suggest closer affinities with other artists of her time, particularly with Antoine Vestier, and perhaps also with Louis David, to whom her works have been mis-attributed.

  • 45 The attribution to David was asserted by Joseph Ducreux’s great granddaughter when she sold the fam (...)

23Rose Ducreux’s earlier self-portrait seated at a piano-forte (c. 1785, untraced, formerly Erlanger Collection) is a case in point. Attributed to David by Ducreux family tradition, the painting has been convincingly ascribed to Mlle Ducreux. It has been suggested also that this self-portrait was inspired by Vestier’s main submission to the Salon of 178545. Vestier’s picture represented his daughter, Nicole, palette and brushes in hand, before an easel, a piano-forte just behind her. Given the similarities in style and composition, it might very well have offered an appealing model for Ducreux, who, like Nicole Vestier, was both musician and painter.

  • 46 A stratagem also taken up by Ducreux’s slightly older contemporary, Vigée-Lebrun, in her pre-Revolu (...)
  • 47 Mme Vestier is figured in the sculpted bust behind Nicole, while Antoine Vestier’s portrait sits on (...)
  • 48 The painting includes a sculpted bust of the artist’s father. See Auricchio, “Self-Promotion”, op.c (...)

24Like her later self-portrait, Rose Ducreux’s ambitious self-portrait at the piano-forte demonstrated that she could vie with her more privileged Academic contemporaries: not only could she too produce a large scale composition, she could beautifully depict the fashionable female figure, and dazzlingly capture a range of textures and surfaces – white and yellow satin, lace, ribbon, coiffed hair, flawless complexions, marble, ivory, gilt and polished wood. Like the Met self-portrait, it presents an image of a professional artist who displays ideal feminine graces and disarmingly radiates civilized pleasures46. What it does not do, however, is present her as a daughter. Perhaps her own delicate form of revolt, this is one way that the Erlanger portrait differs from the Vestier, which actually includes representations of both of the sitter’s parents47. On this point the Ducreux differs too from the other major portrait of a woman artist shown at the Salon of 1785, Adélaïde Labille-Guiard’s Self-Portrait with Students, which also takes up the theme of daughterly filiation48.

  • 49 For discussion and an exhaustive list of women’s self-portraits at the Exposition de la Jeunesse an (...)
  • 50 Paintings of women artists at the Salon were very rare: two notable exceptions were Gilles Allou’s (...)
  • 51 The “inescapable similarities between the Labille-Guiard and Vestier paintings encouraged one criti (...)

25By the late eighteenth century, the Parisian public was far more accustomed to seeing portraits and self-portraits of women artists than it had been theretofore, thanks to the Exposition de la Jeunesse, the Salon de la Correspondance, and the Salon of the Académie de St Luc49. But in 1785 the woman artist was still unusual iconography at the Salon du Louvre; the full-length format of the Vestier and Labille-Guiard portraits was virtually without precedent, which could be why they caught the eye of so many commentators50. The marked visual affinities between these two works, which hung within sight of one another, undoubtedly account for the comparisons that contemporaries drew between them, even if none of them commented on the unusual subject matter per se51.

  • 52 Anne-Marie Passez, Antoine Vestier, Paris, La Bibliotheque des Arts, 1989, p. 134.
  • 53 Laura Auricchio, Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, op. cit., p. 47-49
  • 54 For useful discussion of the amateur woman artist, see Lisa Heer “Amateur Artists” in Delia Gaze, e (...)

26Both were works of signal importance for their authors. Vestier’s portrait was one of the paintings he presented for his agrégation into the Académie that year, and it was the “chef d’œuvre qui allait décider sa carrière”52. Though Labille-Guiard had been admitted two years earlier, hers was the first large-scale work she had presented to the public, and one that clearly aimed and succeeded in promoting her career to a new level, as Laura Auricchio has shown in her study of Labille-Guiard. In comparing Labille-Guiard’s magisterial work to the Vestier picture, Auricchio has also argued that Vestier’s portrait frames the representation of his daughter by his patriarchal gaze, and she contrasts this with the nuances and complexities of the Labille-Guiard portrait53. Vestier’s portrait is seen a celebration of his daughter’s talents in a way that is couched entirely in terms of his own abilities; Labille-Guiard’s is an image of the transmission of artistic knowledge from one artist to another of the kind traditionally associated with fathers/sons. By showing Nicole in a domestic interior (and not in the act of painting) rather than in a studio, by alluding to her talents as a musician as well as a painter, Vestier is said to highlight his daughter’s accomplishments as elegant pastimes, not a profession. In sum, Vestier figures Marie-Nicole as a vision of proper bourgeois femininity, as a well-bred hobbyist, rather than a professional woman artist54.

  • 55 One wonders whether Vestier might have been inspired by the Erlanger self-portrait of Rose Ducreux, (...)

27While not discounting the merits of these arguments, I do think there is more going on in the Vestier painting than this reading allows. To begin with, rules of painterly bienséance called for a fit between what is represented and how it is represented. Thus the scale, and the solemnity (verging on theatricality) of the Vestier portrait, endows Nicole Vestier with a dignity and importance that would seem to be out of step with an image of a merely accomplished young woman. Listed in the Salon livret as Full-length portrait of Mlle Vestier Painting the Portrait of her Father, the work showcased Nicole Vestier’s talents as a painter, as well as her father’s. What is more, it so vividly evokes the visual language of a self-portrait, that it looks like Nicole represented herself at work. So here then, is a father’s portrait of his daughter which looks like her self-portrait, but isn’t55. The plot thickens when we look at “her” picture of him on the easel. She is doing work that perfectly emulates Vestier’s own. But, in fact, the painting on the easel is actually recognizable as one of Antoine Vestier’s own self-portraits.

  • 56 Angela Rosenthal, “She’s got the look! Eighteenth-century female portrait painters and the psycholo (...)
  • 57 Contrast this with the authoritarian Joseph Boze, who, out of jealousy, is said to have prevented h (...)

28Even more than his émule, Nicole is so closely identified with her father that she can substitute for Vestier himself. Is Mlle Vestier here perhaps a “real” allegory of her father’s artistic practice? That is how he depicted her at the next Salon, in which he again depicts her as an artist and as a Vestier (in every sense) under the title of Allegory of Painting (Horvitz Collection, Boston). And yet, the fact that Nicole was herself an actual painter suggests the possibility of another relation or dynamic here; one that involves a father’s identification with the daughter as artist or a blurring of their two identities. Might we see here a manifestation of the process of intersubjective exchange that is intrinsic to the operations of portraiture itself56? If so, does Vestier’s ventriloquized “my daughter/myself” approach leave any room for Nicole Vestier to be an artist in her own right? I prefer to think that it does, for although no commentators remarked on her status as a woman and an artist, the picture did prompt the Mercure de France to refer to her as the “painter” in the portrait, and at the very least made her visible (then as now) as an artist in a way that she would not otherwise have been. In essence, Antoine Vestier made it possible for Nicole to exhibit at the Salon du Louvre, something Rose Ducreux would not be able to do until the Revolutionary Salon of 179157.

  • 58 Reproduced in Borzello, Seeing Ourselves, op. cit., p. 35

29As to how Nicole Vestier conceived of her own status as an artist, we can glean some idea from her own self-portrait, which was shown at the Salon of 1793. Entitled The Artist at her Occupations, she painted it not long after the birth of her first child – the happy result of her marriage to the miniaturist François Dumont58. From the title it appears that her primary identity is that of “the artist”. In the picture itself she is still also musician, and daughter – it is again a portrait of the father on the canvas behind her. But she is also of course, mother. Though she appears equally divided between her occupations, one gets the sense that the needy child in the cradle will soon win out. And indeed, Nicole Dumont seems to have stopped painting in her own right after 1793, following the birth of her other children.

III.

30Though Salon critics in 1785 declared Labille-Guiard’s self-portrait to be “inferior” to Vestier’s, in our own time, it is the académicienne’s painting that has garnered most of the scholarly attention. For feminist art historians, it holds particular interest because it appears to be the first portrait (or self-portrait) that shows a woman artist with her students/artistic progeny. In so doing, it evokes a more familiar model of filiation (usually of fathers who pass on their knowledge to sons) than that presented by Vestier’s “self-portrait of another”. By way of conclusion, it seems right to ask whether the dynamics of filiation are the same for women artists as teachers and/or as students.

  • 59 Examples include: Jean-Marc Nattier, Mme Marsollier et sa fille, 1749 (Met, NY), François-Hubert Dr (...)
  • 60 Katharine Ann Jensen, “Mirrors, Marriage, and Nostalgia: Mother-Daughter Relations in Writings by I (...)
  • 61 Dena Goodman, “Fillial Rebellion in the Salon: Madame Geoffrin and her Daughter”, French Historical (...)

31Even a cursory sampling of representations of mothers and their biological daughters reveals how often female offspring are figured as miniature versions of their mothers – almost as mirror reflections of them, in fact59. This idea had broad cultural currency. It was, as Katherine Jensen has argued, an ideal particularly embraced by ambitious women in early modern France who “were preoccupied with representing a certain kind of mother-daughter bond: one in which a daughter was supposed to mirror her mother”60. Among others, she cites the examples of Mme de Sévigné, Isabelle de Charrière and Vigée-Lebrun. One might also add to the list, Mme Geoffrin and also Mme Necker whose critics (including her daughter, Germaine de Staël), said “she only sought to form her daughter in her own image”61.

32Jensen notes that the mother-daughter mirror metaphor is one that figured in conduct books for women. She cites a seventeenth-century example that is particularly apposite in the present context because of the way it evokes the metaphor of mother as artist and daughter as self-portrait:

  • 62 François de Grenaille, L’Honnête fille (1639-1640), quoted in Jensen, op. cit., p. 286.

Les femmes ne servent pas seulement à les [les honnêtes filles] former, mais comme elles en prennent le dessein sur elles-mêmes, et que pour produire une fille la mère fait son image; on peut encore dire qu’elles ont le même droit sur leur ouvrage qu’un Peintre sur son portrait.62

  • 63 Elisabeth Vigée Lebrun, Souvenirs, Paris, H. Fournier1986, tome II, p. 49.
  • 64 Sheriff, The Exceptional Woman, op. cit.; Paula Rea Radisich, “Que peut définir les femmes? Vigée L (...)
  • 65 Jensen, op. cit., p. 287.
  • 66 On Mme Geoffrin and her daughter, see, Goodman, as in n° 56.

33The works by Anguissola and Vestier that I have discussed here both identify the portrait of the artist-daughter as the “self”-portrait of an artist-father (whether elective or biological), rather than as his émule. But this self-reflective model more typically describes or relates to artist-mother/daughter relations. Jensen convincingly makes the case for its importance in Vigée-Lebrun’s Souvenirs, where the artist was very much invested in the idea of her daughter as a reflection of herself. Vigée-Lebrun wanted Julie to frequent the same social circles as she did, and evidently wished that Julie would also become an artist. At one point when she is enumerating Julie’s charms and talents, Vigée-Lebrun comments “ce qui me charmait par-dessus tout, c’étaient ses heureuses dispositions pour la peinture”63. Mary Sheriff and others have discussed Vigée-Lebrun’s self-portraits with her daughter in terms of how the artist figures the relationships between biological and artistic production64. Perhaps these self-portraits can be understood also to give visual form to the idea that to have a daughter is to make a self-portrait. However, as Jensen has shown, in “real life” the mother/daughter mirror metaphor creates an overdetermined confusion between the mother’s identity and the daughter’s. This “identity confusion, born of mother’s and daughter’s profound and vexed dependence on one another for self-definition, produces painful misunderstandings and separation anxiety for both women”65. The result in the case of Vigée-Lebrun, and indeed of Mme Necker and Mme Geoffrin, was complete filial rebellion66. Julie never became an artist and there was a painful rupture in the relationship between mother and daughter as she asserted her own will and insisted upon her own, separate identity.

  • 67 Mieke Bal on Bryson’s Tradition and Desire in Reading Rembrandt: Beyond the Word-Image Opposition, (...)
  • 68 One thinks of the unequal relations between Constance Mayer and Pierre-Paul Prud’hon, or François G (...)

34Daughter-as-self-portrait is a markedly different model of filiation from the one defined by the conventionally “masculine” ideal of emulation, where sons wrestle anxiously with the burden of the father’s influence. In that model, the tension between “the wish to follow and the desire to out-do the great master sets into motion a productive interaction between sameness and difference”67. As anxiety-ridden as that model is, it is predicated on the expectation that difference was the desired goal. When women were in the position of émule, it was perhaps easier for them to assert that difference in their self-portraits (viz. Mme Roslin, Rose Ducreux), because women were always already different from their male teachers. But difference rarely translated into independence or “greatness,” as these women seem so often to have been relegated by critics, by art history, to the status of permanent students, denied an artistic identity of their own68.

  • 69 Reproduced in Blanc, op. cit., p. 89.
  • 70 Tickner usefully suggests that Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of the “rhizome” which is “’an anti-ge (...)

35But what of the daughter (natural or symbolic) who elects to emulate or mirror her mother? How does she (or does she?) become an independent self? Haudebourt-Lescot’s choice to exhibit her self-portrait along with a portrait of her mother at the Salon of 1827 is suggestive here – as are other examples of artists who in some way evoked their mothers in their work. (The first self portrait Constance Mayer exhibited at the Salon – in 1796 – was entitled Portrait de la citoyenne Mayer présentant une esquisse du portrait de sa mère69.) These alas are questions that must wait for another time70. But I do want to suggest that Labille-Guiard’s student Gabrielle Capet falls into this category and seems to have grappled with these questions in her early self-portraits. In them, she seeks to define herself as an artist in terms very similar to those used by Labille-Guiard for her own self-images. But Capet’s version of emulation seems not to have involved competition with her teacher or the desire to outdo her. In the end, Capet became a real daughter to Labille-Guiard. She never wed, but lived and worked with Labille-Guiard, and continued to do so after Labille-Guiard and François Vincent married in 1800. In 1808 Capet would paint a poignant and moving homage to her teacher (Alte Pinakotek, Munich) – a picture that is yet one more example of a self-portrait of another. Yet Capet’s “self” here is defined not just in terms of her teacher/mother-figure, but also in terms of a world that includes men as well as women; a world where identity is collective, collaborative and communal – a reminder that no artist really ever paints by him (or her)self.

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Notes

1 This essay is developed out of a paper presented at the Institut National d'Histoire de l'Art in connection with a seminar on gender and representation organized by Anne Lafont and Frédérique Desbuissons. I am grateful to them for the opportunity to participate in the seminar, and for the excellent feedback I received from those who attended the talk. I would also like to thank Caroline Trotot and Natania Meeker for the invitation to contribute to the present volume.

2 Hortense Haudebourt-Lescot, Autoportrait, v. 1825, Louvre, RMN, http://www.culture.gouv.fr/public/mistral/joconde_fr?ACTION=CHERCHER&FIELD_98=AUTR&VALUE_98=HAUDEBOURT-LESCOT%20Hortense&DOM=All&REL_SPECIFIC=3, accessed on 16 may 2016.

3 Augustin Jal, Esquisses, croquis, pochades ou Tout ce qu’on voudra sur le Salon de 1827, Paris, A. Dupont, 1828, p. 290.

4 For the trope of the naïve outsider in eighteenth-century Salon criticism, see Anne Lafont, “Comment peut-on être critique? Jugement de goût et relativisme culturel”, in Penser l’art dans la seconde moitié du xviiie siècle: théorie, critique, philosophie, histoire, C. Michel et C. Magnusson eds., Rome, Somogy, 2013, p. 143-158.

5 See Susan Siegfried in “Expression d’une subjectivité féminine dans les journaux pour femmes,” Mechthild Fend, Melissa Hyde and Anne Lafont, eds, Plumes et Pinceaux. Discours de femmes sur l’art en Europe (1750-1850), Paris, 2012, p. 245-70. She notes that out of 550 artists who exhibited at the Salon of 1827-1828, 80 were female. For detailed studies of women exhibiting at the Salon see Margaret Oppenheimer, “Women Artists in Paris, 1791-1814”, PhD Dissertation, Institute of Fine Arts, NYU, 1996, chapter one and Séverine Sofio, “’L’art ne s’apprend pas aux dépens des moeurs!’ Construction du champ de l’art, genre et professionalisation des artistes. 1780-1848 », Thèse du doctorat, Centre Maurice Halbwachs, Paris 2009. On Jal, see Sebastien Allard, et al., Citizens and Kings: Portraits in the Age of Revolution, exh. cat., London, 2007, p. 338.

6 On Haudebourt-Lescot’s portrait of her mother: “C’est une chose fort remarquable, qui sort des habitudes du talent de son auteur, qu’aucune femme n’aurait pu faire...” Jal, Esquisses, p. 335. In his L’Ombre de Diderot et le Bossu du Marais: dialogue critique sur le Salon de 1819, he has Diderot comment about another work of Mlle Lescot’s, “Il est difficile, au premier coup d’œil, de se persuader qu’une telle composition soit sortie d’un pinceau féminin”, p. 177.

7 Jal, Esquisses, p. 269. He notes that people questioned whether David had actually painted works by his student Angélique Mongez, p. 268. He also mentions that Mlle Lescot’s detractors questioned her authorship of her paintings previously in his L’Ombre de Diderot, p. 19.

8 An infamous instance of the question of authorship occurred with the disgrace of Marguerite Haverman, a Dutch flower painter admitted to the Académie in 1722, who was struck from the registers when it was suspected that she had passed off works by her teacher as her own. Later, when Mme Therbouche first presented work to the Académie to be considered for admission, she was shocked to be asked if she had painted the works herself. Both Vigée-Lebrun and Labille-Guiard had to endure allegations by critics that their own paintings were in reality the work of Ménageot and Vincent, respectively. See: Bernadette Fort, “Indicting the Woman Artist: Diderot, Le Libertin, and Anna Dorothea Therbusch,” Lumen, 23, 2004, p. 9; Mary Sheriff, The Exceptional Woman: Elisabeth Vigée Lebrun and the Cultural Politics of Art, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1996, p. 180; and Laura Auricchio, “Self-Promotion in Labille-Guiard’s Self-Portrait with Two Students”, The Art Bulletin 89, March 2007, p. 45-62.

9 Jordana Pomeroy et al., Italian Women Artists from Renaissance to Baroque, New York, Skira, 2007, p. 120.

10 Melissa Hyde, “Getting into the Picture: Boucher’s Self-Portraits of Others”, Rethinking Boucher, M. Hyde & M. Ledbury, eds., Los Angeles, Getty Publications, 2006, p. 12-38.

11 See the compelling version of this narrative, in which sons “are brought over and over again to the troubled territory of filiation and inheritance” in Thomas Crow, Emulation: Making Artists for Revolutionary France, New Haven and London, 1995, p. 1. For a feminist critique of this narrative and Crow’s use of a “single-sex frame”, see Mechthild Fend and Abigail Solomon-Godeau, “Noch einmal: Väter und Söhne”, Texte zur Kunst 20, 1995, p. 118-125. Norman Bryson was the first scholar to bring Harold Bloom’s Oedipal model, The Anxiety of Influence, London, 1975 to bear on art history in Tradition and Desire, Cambridge, 1984.

12 “From the works by the hand of the beautiful [Anguissola], your [Campi’s] creation, which I am here able to view with amazement, I am better able to understand your beautiful intellect.” Cited in Babette Bohn & James Saslow, eds., A Companion to Renaissance and Baroque Art, Wiley & Sons, 2013, e-book, n.p. 

13 As Kathleen Russo has put it, “Anguissola is the only known artist who depicted her teacher in a painting with the following illusions or trompe l’oeil effects: a painter painting a portrait, a painter painting a self-portrait, and a painter painting another painter, painting what is in fact her self portrait.”, Kathleen Russo et. al., Self-Portraits by Women Painters, Aldershot, 2000, p. 54. See also Frederika Jacobs, “Woman’s Capacity to Create: The Unusual Case of Sofonisba Anguissola”, Renaissance Quarterly n° 47, 1994, p. 74-101 and Mary Garrard, “Here’s Looking at Me: Sofonisba Anguissola and the Problem of the Woman Artist,” Renaissance Quarterly n° 47, 1994, p. 556-621.

14 Masafumi Monden, Japanese fashion cultures: dress and gender in contemporary Japan, London and New York, Bloomsbury Academic, 2014, p. 100-103.

15 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sofonisba_Anguissola#/media/File:Self-portrait_with_Bernardino_Campi_by_Sofonisba_Anguissola.jpg, Consulted 15 May 2015. See also Anthony Bond and Joanna Woodall, et al, Self Portrait: Renaissance to Contemporary, exh. cat., London, 2005, fig. 17.

16 The phrase comes from Marianne Hirsch, The Mother/Daughter Plot: Narrative, Psychoanalysis, Feminism, Bloomington and Indianapolis: 1989. For more recent reflections on models of artistic generation as they relate to women, see Lisa Tickner, “Mediating Generation: The Mother-Daughter Plot”, in Carol Armstrong, Women Artists at the Millennium, Cambridge, The Mit Press, 2004, p. 85-120.

17 A notable exception is to be found in Gretchen van Slyke’s refreshing account of the abiding importance of Rosa Bonheur’s mother in her life, “Reinventing Matrimony: Rosa Bonheur, Her Mother, and Her Friends,” Women’s Studies Quarterly, 19:3/4, 1991, p. 59-77. My thanks to Mary Sheriff for bringing this article to my attention.

18 http://www.artinstituteimages.org/formorderinfo.asp?image=00050629-01, accessed 16 may 2016.

19 Compare to The Allegory of Painting from this period by Jean-François de Troy (1733).

http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/lot/jean-francois-de-troy-an-allegory-of-painting-4230950-details.aspx?pos=40&intObjectID=4230950&sid=, accessed 16 may 2016.

20 See for example, Mme de Genlis, Les Veillées du château, ou Cours de moral à l’usage des enfants, vol. 2, Paris, Garnier frères, 1784, p. 431-438. http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k62607816.r=genlis veilles du château; accessed 17 may, 2016. See also Mme Beaumer referenced in footnote 20. More generally speaking, the Marquis de Condorcet was a committed believer in women’s capacity for genius. See, Joan Landes, “The History of Feminism: Marie-Jean-Antoine-Nicolas de Caritat, Marquis de Condorcet”, Edward N. Zalta ed., The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Spring 2016 Edition, http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2016/entries/histfem-condorcet, accessed 17 may, 2016.

21 “Paintress” is a term that Rousseau and Mme Marie Anne de La Tour used in their correspondence of 1763. Rousseau is often erroneously credited with coining the term. It appears fifty years earlier in Abel Boyer, The Royal Dictionary, French and English and English and French, London, D. Midwinter, 1711. However the term was still unusual enough in 1777 that when the Abbé Le Brun used it in his Almanach historique to describe Mme Vien, the author of a review of the Almanach commented that it was an “expression nouvellement forgée, et qui n’a pas été adoptée par les Amateurs”, L’Esprit de journaux, françois et étrangers n° 7, juillet, 1777, p. 129. An early usage of “femme artiste” is to be found in an essay by Mme Beaumer, who was for a time editor of the Nouveau journal des dames. See “Invitation de Madame de Baumer, aux femmes qui se distinguent dans les arts”, Nouveau journal des dames, n° 1, mars, 1762, p. 289, 290. On Rousseau’s use of the term paintress, see Mary MacAlpin, Gender, Authenticity and the Missive Letter in Eighteenth-Century France, Bucknell University Press, 2006, p. 67.

22 See Natalie Heinich, Du peintre à l’artiste: Artisans et académiciens à l’âge classique, Paris, Minuit, 1993. She notes in chapter VII that “artiste” only comes into usage in the modern sense of word around the middle of the eighteenth century.

23 A point playfully acknowledged by Griselda Pollock and Rozsika Parker, when they pointed out that in English there is no female equivalent of the term “old master”, Old Mistresses: Women, Art and Ideology, London and New York, I. B. Tauris, [1981] 2013, p. xix.

24 This is not surprising in view of the fact that there were so few portraits of male artists before 1654. See Hannah Williams, “Autoportrait ou portrait de l’artiste peint par lui-même? Se peindre soi-même à l’époque moderne”, Images Re-vues, 7, 2009, imagesrevues.revues.org/574, 2, accessed 1st May, 2014.

25 An inventory after Basseporte’s death in 1780 lists various portraits by Basseporte, including “le portrait de Mlle Basseporte et celui de Mme sa mère”, Paul Ratouis de Limay, Les Pastels du xviiie en France, Paris, Baudiniere, 1946, p. 159.

26 Anne Coypel, wife of the sculptor François Dumont has been proposed (and doubted) as the sitter. But there is a whole list of possible sitters, women artists who were in one way or another connected with the Coypel, Dumont, and Silvestre families including: Geneviève de Lance (Lens), wife of Louis-Charles Hérault (brother-in-law en premier noces of Anne Coypel’s father); Anne Hérault (wife of François Hutin) and Marie-Catherine Hérault, wife of Louis de Silvestre. For connections between the families see the Dumont marriage contract reproduced in “Documents nouveaux sur les Coypel, et les Boullogne, Peintres; et sur les Dumont, sculpteurs 1712-1788)”, Nouvelles Archives de l’Art Français, 1877, p. 240. On attribution and identity of the sitter, Susan Wise et al., French and British Paintings from 1600-1800 in the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, 1996, p. 68-70.

27 Neil Jeffares cites a letter of 1751 of Read’s mentioning “my old master La Tour”. See “Katherine Read”, in Dictionary of Pastellists Before 1800, http://www.pastellists.com/Articles/Read.pdf, Accessed 15 April 2014.

28 Mme Beaumer presents female emulation as a desirable thing. Nouveau Journal des Dames, 1 (1762): 291. Apparently inspired by the example of Carriera, whose works she copied, Basseporte had started out in the 1720s as a portraitist, until she abandoned the genre for scientific illustration. Ratouis de Limay, Le Pastel en France, Paris, Baudinière, 1946, p. 158-159.

29 Jeffares, “Katherine Read,” in Dictionary of Pastellists, online edition, 1, accessed 26 October, 2011.

30 Quoted in F. Steuart, “Miss Catherine Read, Court Paintress”, Scottish Historical Review, 1904, p. 41. Read’s self-portrait is reproduced in color in Margery Morgan, “British Connoisseurs in Rome. Was it Painted by Katherine Read?”, The British Art Journal 2, 2006, p. 43.

31 Nearly every woman artist for 50 years was called the Dutch, German, etc. Rosalba no matter whether there was any resemblance to her work. Vigée Lebrun was called “modern Rosalba.” Frances Borzello, Seeing Ourselves: Women’s Self-Portraits, New York, Harry N. Abrams, 1998, p. 70.

32 http://www.culture.gouv.fr/public/mistral/joconde_fr?ACTION=CHERCHER&FIELD_1=REF&VALUE_1=000PE001081, accessed 16 May, 2016.

33 http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie-Suzanne_Roslin. Accessed 12 June, 2015. Also reproduced and discussed in Marie Jo Bonnet, “Femmes peintres à leur travail: de l’autoportrait comme manifeste politique (xviiie-xixe siècles)” in Revue d'histoire moderne & contemporaine, n° 49-3, juillet-septembre 2002, p. 140-167 and Thea Burns and Philippe Saunier, The Art of the Pastel, New York, Abbeville Press In, 2015.

34 On the problems presented for women artists by the eighteenth-century ideal of emulation see Laura Auricchio, “The Laws of Bienséance and the Gendering of Emulation in Eighteenth-Century French Art Education,” Eighteenth-Century Studies 36, no° 2, January 2003, p. 231-140 and Mary Sheriff, Moved by Love: Inspired Artists and Deviant Women in Eighteenth-Century France, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2004, p. 61-63, 74-77, 168-69.

35 Jeffares, “Joseph Ducreux”, Dictionary of Pastellists, http://www.pastellists.com/Articles/Ducreux.pdf, accessed 15 May, 2015.

36 http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/436222, accessed 16 May, 2016.

37 His self-portraits have taken on new life as an internet meme. See Miles Klee, “Vanishing Point: (Your Memes Reviewed): the Joseph Ducreux Self-Portrait”, http://www.theawl.com/2010/04/vanishing-point-your-memes-reviewed-the-joseph-ducreux-self-portrait, accessed 15 February, 2015.

38 Anon. [P.-J-B Chaussard] [Salon de 1801], cited in Jeffares, “Joseph Ducreux”, 3. http://www.pastellists.com/Articles/Ducreux.pdf, accessed 15 February 2015.

39 E. Bellier de la Chavignerie, “Les artistes du français du xviiie”, Revue universelle des arts n° 20, octobre 1864-mars 1865, p. 125.

40 Quoted in Georgette Lyon, Joseph Ducreux, Paris, La Nef, 1958, p. 81.

41 Anon., “Exposition au Salon du Louvre...”, Affiches, annonces et avis divers...1791, cited in Jeffares, “Joseph Ducreux”, Dictionary of Pastellists, 2. http://www.pastellists.com/Articles/Ducreux.pdf Accessed 2/15/15

42 Livrets for subsequent Salons indicate she was his daughter, but she is only once listed as his student – in the Livret for the Salon of 1799.

43 Certainly this was the case for Anguissola. The importance of fathers was first raised by Linda Nochlin and Germaine Greer. Nochlin’s foundational essay, “Why Have There Been no Great Women Artists?” was first published in 1971, and is reprinted in Linda Nochlin, Women, Art, and Power, New York, Harper & Row, 1988, p. 145-78. Germaine Greer discusses the role of fathers in less positive terms in The Obstacle Race: The Fortunes of Women Painters and Their Work, New York, Tauris Parke Paperbacks, 1979.

44 I use the term “professional” training, because in 1786 Pahin de la Blancherie explicitly refers to Mlle Ducreux’s “profession”, Lyon, Ducreux, p. 81.

45 The attribution to David was asserted by Joseph Ducreux’s great granddaughter when she sold the family collection. See D.S. MacColl “Jacques Louis David and the Ducreux Family”, The Burlington Magazine 72, n° 2, June, 1938, p. 263-279. Joseph Baillio reatrributes the painting to Rose Ducreux and draws comparisons between it and the Vestier. Joseph Baillio, “Une artiste méconnu: Rose Adélaïde Ducreux”, L’œil, n° 399, 1988, p. 20-27. See Laura Auricchio, Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, Artist in the Age of Revolution, Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum, 2009, figure 37, p. 47, https://books.google.fr/books?id=XJkvjgxwby4C&lpg=PA47&dq=ANtoine%20Vestier%20Portrait%20of%20Marie-Nicole%20Vestier&hl=fr&pg=PA47#v=onepage&q=ANtoine%20Vestier%20Portrait%20of%20Marie-Nicole%20Vestier&f=false, Accessed 15 May 2016.

46 A stratagem also taken up by Ducreux’s slightly older contemporary, Vigée-Lebrun, in her pre-Revolutionary self-portraits ‒ a point made by Borzello, Seeing Ourselves, op. cit., p. 75.

47 Mme Vestier is figured in the sculpted bust behind Nicole, while Antoine Vestier’s portrait sits on the easel.

48 The painting includes a sculpted bust of the artist’s father. See Auricchio, “Self-Promotion”, op.cit., as in n° 6.

49 For discussion and an exhaustive list of women’s self-portraits at the Exposition de la Jeunesse and elsewhere, see Bonnet, “Femmes peintres à leur travail”; see also Eva Kernbauer, Der Platz des Publikums: Modelle für Kunstöffentlichkeit im 18. Jahrhundert, Köln, Böhlau, 2011, p. 113-121.

50 Paintings of women artists at the Salon were very rare: two notable exceptions were Gilles Allou’s portraits at the Salon of 1737 of his wife Anne Raguenet, “dessinant une figure optique” (engraving by Michel Dossier on Gallica http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b8530052v. Accessed 12 June, 2015); and another of Marie-Maximillienne de Silvestre (daughter of Louis de Silvestre) holding a palette at the Salon 1739 (untraced).

51 The “inescapable similarities between the Labille-Guiard and Vestier paintings encouraged one critic of the time to compare them to the disadvantage of Labille-Guiard: ‘Le tableau de Madame Guyard, quoiqu’inférieur à celui de M. Vestier, n’est pas sans quelque mérite.’”, Laura Auricchio, “Portraits of Impropriety: Adélaïde Labille-Guiard and the Careers of Professional Women Artists in Late Eighteenth -Century Paris”, PhD Dissertation, Columbia University, 2000, p. 153.

52 Anne-Marie Passez, Antoine Vestier, Paris, La Bibliotheque des Arts, 1989, p. 134.

53 Laura Auricchio, Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, op. cit., p. 47-49

54 For useful discussion of the amateur woman artist, see Lisa Heer “Amateur Artists” in Delia Gaze, ed. Dictionary of Women Artists, vol. 1, New York, Routledge, [1997] 2001, p. 50-67.

55 One wonders whether Vestier might have been inspired by the Erlanger self-portrait of Rose Ducreux, rather than the other way around; or perhaps also by Labille-Guiard – as Jean-Laurent Mosnier was for his own self-portrait at the next Salon. Auricchio and Labille-Guiard, Artist in the Age of Revolution, op. cit., p. 44.

56 Angela Rosenthal, “She’s got the look! Eighteenth-century female portrait painters and the psychology of a potentially ‘dangerous employment’” in Joanna Woodall, ed., Portraiture: Facing the Subject, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1997, p. 147-166.

57 Contrast this with the authoritarian Joseph Boze, who, out of jealousy, is said to have prevented his daughter, Ursule, from developing a public profile. Olivier Blanc, Portraits de Femmes, Paris, Carpentier 2006, p. 86.

58 Reproduced in Borzello, Seeing Ourselves, op. cit., p. 35

59 Examples include: Jean-Marc Nattier, Mme Marsollier et sa fille, 1749 (Met, NY), François-Hubert Drouais, Family Portrait, 1756 (National Gallery, Washington D.C.) Jean Valade, Portrait de Mme Théodore Lacroix et de Suzanne-Félicité, 1775, Louvre.

60 Katharine Ann Jensen, “Mirrors, Marriage, and Nostalgia: Mother-Daughter Relations in Writings by Isabelle de Charrière and Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun”, Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, n° 19-2, 2000, p. 286.

61 Dena Goodman, “Fillial Rebellion in the Salon: Madame Geoffrin and her Daughter”, French Historical Studies, n° 19-1, 1989, p. 29.

62 François de Grenaille, L’Honnête fille (1639-1640), quoted in Jensen, op. cit., p. 286.

63 Elisabeth Vigée Lebrun, Souvenirs, Paris, H. Fournier1986, tome II, p. 49.

64 Sheriff, The Exceptional Woman, op. cit.; Paula Rea Radisich, “Que peut définir les femmes? Vigée Lebrun’s Portraits of an Artist”, Eighteenth-Century Studies, n° 25, summer 1992, p. 441-467 and Lesley Walker, A Mother’s Love: Crafting Feminine Virtue in Enlightenment France, Cranbury, Bucknell University Press, 2008.

65 Jensen, op. cit., p. 287.

66 On Mme Geoffrin and her daughter, see, Goodman, as in n° 56.

67 Mieke Bal on Bryson’s Tradition and Desire in Reading Rembrandt: Beyond the Word-Image Opposition, Amsterdam, Amsterdam University Press, 2006, p. 26. For further discussion of Bryson’s use of the Oedipal model, see Sheriff, The Exceptional Woman, op. cit., p. 52-54, 57-59.

68 One thinks of the unequal relations between Constance Mayer and Pierre-Paul Prud’hon, or François Gérard and Marie-Eléonore Godefroid. Even Labille-Guiard, after she married François Vincent at the age of 50 and thirty years into her career, was listed in the Salon Livret of 1800 as “élève de son mari”. Marguerite Gérard is one of the few female artists to have emerged from the shadow of her teacher, but even then, the relationships between her work and that of Fragonard are complicated.

69 Reproduced in Blanc, op. cit., p. 89.

70 Tickner usefully suggests that Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of the “rhizome” which is “’an anti-genealogy’: multiple, diverse, heterogeneous, generative, resistant to hierarchies and productive in its channeling of desire,” might offer a useful alternative to the Bloomian focus on genealogies (strong precursors and the anxiety of influence). Tickner, op. cit., p. 91 (as in n. 14).

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Melissa Hyde, « « Peinte par elle-même? » », Arts et Savoirs [En ligne], 6 | 2016, mis en ligne le 12 juillet 2016, consulté le 17 août 2017. URL : http://aes.revues.org/794 ; DOI : 10.4000/aes.794

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Melissa Hyde

University of Florida

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