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Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, Alexandrine-Emilie Brongniart

Key facts
Full title Alexandrine-Emilie Brongniart
Artist Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun
Artist dates 1755 - 1842
Date made 1788 or 1789
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 65.1 × 53.3 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Sir Bernard Eckstein, 1948
Inventory number NG5871
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Alexandrine-Emilie Brongniart
Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun

Alexandrine-Emilie Brongniart (1780–1847) was most likely eight years old when this engaging portrait of her was painted by the celebrated artist Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun. Wearing an informal knotted scarf on her head, matching white dress and a translucent shawl around her shoulders, Emilie looks directly at us as she searches inside a green silk bag containing balls of wool. Her dark curly hair, which is fashionably long and styled to look natural, frames her pale face, which shows a lively interest in our presence.

There was a close bond between the artist and the Brongniart family. Vigée Le Brun’s daughter Julie was seven months older than Emilie, and the two often played together. The portrait shows the influence of portraits of children by Greuze, but Le Brun avoids the overt sentimentalism that could be a feature of Greuze’s children and presents instead an image of an independent and inquiring young girl.

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