"Adélaïde Labille-Guiard was apprenticed to a miniaturist and later, in 1769, studied pastel with Maurice Quentin de La Tour. The rich palette and fine detail in the present picture, one of the earliest of her major works in oil, reflect her earlier training. In 1783, when Labille-Guiard and Vigée Le Brun were admitted to the French Royal Academy, the number of women artists eligible for membership was limited to four, and this canvas, which was exhibited to an admiring audience at the Salon of 1785, has been interpreted as a propaganda piece, arguing for the place of women in the Academy. The artist's fashionable dress asserts her femininity, the feminist mood is emphasized by the presence of her pupils and the statue of the Vestal Virgin in the background. Labille-Guiard achieved a certain success at court and, having painted a number of portraits of the aunts of Louis XVI, she came to be known as "Peintre des Mesdames". However, she sympathized with the Revolution and, unlike Vigée Le Brun, remained in France throughout her life."
I was especially taken with this portrait during my recent five hour visit with the classics. what a woman.